- Obama Couldn’t Wait: His New Christmas Tree Tax – President Obama’s Agriculture Department today announced that it will impose a new 15-cent charge on all fresh Christmas trees—the Christmas Tree Tax—to support a new Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board. The purpose of the Board is to run a “program of promotion, research, evaluation, and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace; maintain and expend existing markets for Christmas trees; and to carry out programs, plans, and projects designed to provide maximum benefits to the Christmas tree industry” (7 CFR 1214.46(n)). And the program of “information” is to include efforts to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States” (7 CFR 1214.10).
To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52). And, of course, the Christmas tree sellers are free to pass along the 15-cent Federal fee to consumers who buy their Christmas trees.
Acting Administrator Shipman had the temerity to say the 15-cent mandatory Christmas tree fee “is not a tax nor does it yield revenue for the Federal government” (76 CFR 69102). The Federal government mandates that the Christmas tree sellers pay the 15-cents per tree, whether they want to or not. The Federal government directs that the revenue generated by the 15-cent fee goes to the Board appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the Christmas tree program established by the Secretary of Agriculture. Mr. President, that’s a new 15-cent tax to pay for a Federal program to improve the image and marketing of Christmas trees.
Nobody is saying President Obama doesn’t have authority to impose his new Christmas Tree Tax — his Administration cites the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. Just because the Obama Administration has the legal power to impose its Christmas Tree Tax doesn’t mean it should do so.
- Mitt Romney as the Nominee: Conservatism Dies and Barack Obama Wins – Why Romney Will Be The Nominee
Mitt Romney will be the nominee because the other candidates, right now, are a pretty pathetic lot.
The base will not forgive Rick Perry his immigration sins. In fact, that has hurt him far more than his debate performances, but his debate performances have hurt him badly. Perry, who came out principled and fiery with a record others could only envy, has left others with the impression that he’s a poor man’s version of the village idiot, which in the SEC we call “Aggies”. Maybe he can turn it around.
Newt Gingrich will not be the nominee because, despite his daughter’s rebuttals to the horror stories of how Gingrich divorced his first of three wives, Jackie Gingrich told the Washington Post on January 3, 1985, “He walked out in the spring of 1980 and I returned to Georgia. By September, I went into the hospital for my third surgery. The two girls came to see me, and said Daddy is downstairs and could he come up? When he got there, he wanted to discuss the terms of the divorce while I was recovering from the surgery.”
Gingrich went on to cheat on the second wife with the third. Regardless of the actual facts or even the spin, he won’t win women.
Herman Cain won’t be the nominee because he can’t win women either. Regardless of what you think of the Politico story, Cain’s handling of the story has been an epic disaster. He’s down at least 10 points with women in Iowa. He’s falling even further and doesn’t even realize it. He’s largely been emboldened by a conservative media that is so used to standing by its men that too few are telling Herman that he is now at the point where he must actually sit and answer questions whether he wants to or not and whether he feels maligned or not and whether I think he should have to or not. If he loses women by as big as he is starting to lose the women, he cannot win.
So Mitt Romney will be the nominee. Conservatives will not rally together with the least of the bad alternatives and Romney, like John McCain before him, will run up the middle to the nomination. But, just like McCain, Romney will not beat Barack Obama.
- Issue 2 falls, Ohio collective bargaining law repealed – Ohioans voted Tuesday night to repeal a Republican-backed law that restricted collective bargaining for public workers, a victory for Democrats and labor organizers both nationally and in the state.
AP has declared Issue 2 (as the law was called on the ballot) dead. As of this writing, with about a quarter of precincts in, repeal led by a whopping 63 to 37 percent margin.
Gov. John Kasich (R) took office in January vowing to curb unions’ power. But he appears to have overstepped his hand in curtailing the rights of 350,000 public workers — including firefighters and police officers — to negotiate over benefits, equipment and other issues.
The backlash against the law began as soon as Kasich signed it, in March. By August, when the governor asked for a compromise with unions, it was too late.
As in other states, the law became a battleground for an ongoing fight between labor and conservative groups over collective bargaining. In Wisconsin, after Gov. Scott Walker (R) eliminated collective bargaining for many public employees, Democrats and labor failed to take back the state Senate in recall elections. Now, unions have their first bonafide win.
By including firefighters and police officers in the legislation, Republicans in Ohio set themselves up for a far more difficult fight. Wisconsin’s collective bargaining law made exceptions for both.
- Herman Cain: Harassment charge is ‘baseless, bogus and false’ – Republican Herman Cain directly confronted allegations on Tuesday that he had sexually harassed women, saying his latest accuser had lied and promising to continue his quest for the presidency.
Addressing the controversy before a throng of reporters in suburban Phoenix, Cain said he had no recollection of ever meeting Sharon Bialek, the woman who went public Monday and accused him of groping her in a car after the two dined together in Washington 14 years ago. Cain called her account “baseless, bogus and false” and said Bialek and three other women who have accused him of sexual harassment are part of a coordinated effort to attack his character and derail his campaign.
“We are not going to allow Washington or politics to deny me the opportunity to represent this great nation,” Cain said, adding that he would be willing to take a lie-detector test. “As far as these accusations causing me to back off and maybe withdraw from this presidential primary race — ain’t gonna happen.”
The controversy over the charges escalated just minutes before Cain’s news conference, when one of the previously anonymous women accusing him of inappropriate behavior decided to reveal her name after it appeared on news sites. She urged the other accusers to hold a news conference with her.
Karen Kraushaar, 55, now a communications official for the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, filed a claim of sexual harassment against Cain when he headed the National Restaurant Association and she was an employee there in the 1990s. She received a payment when she left the organization, but Cain, who disputed the allegations at the time, was not a party to the agreement.
“The reason sexual harassment is so difficult to prove is that workplace sexual predators try to make sure the victim is alone when the harassment takes place,” she wrote in an e-mail after Cain’s news conference.
- Herman Cain sex harassment questions not barred at Michigan debate tomorrow night – When Herman Cain debated Newt Gingrich solo in Texas over the weekend, questions about the sex harassment allegations from his NRA tenure were off-limits.
But a CNBC spokesman tells me that the cable network has reserved the right to ask such questions at tomorrow’s debate in Michigan, which is supposed to be focused on the economy.
“The debate will focus on jobs, taxes, the deficit and the health of our national economy, but there are no restrictions on questions,” spokesman Brian Steel wrote me in an email. “As for Herman Cain, he is scheduled to attend.”
Asked whether the Cain campaign had requested any question restrictions, Steel said all conversations with the various campaigns are off the record and declined to say one way or the other.
- DeMint endorses Stenberg, sponsors fund-raising drive – Republican Senate candidate Don Stenberg on Tuesday got the endorsement he wanted.
South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, sometimes described as a kingmaker for candidates seeking conservative support, said Stenberg is “a lifelong conservative with the principles, integrity and courage needed to stand up to the big spenders in both political parties in Washington.”
Stenberg is “not only the strongest conservative in the race, but we also believe he’s the most electable,” DeMint said in a statement issued through his Senate Conservatives Fund website.
The five-candidate 2012 GOP Senate field includes Attorney General Jon Bruning, state Sen. Deb Fischer of Valentine, Pat Flynn of Schuyler and Spencer Zimmerman of Omaha.
Stenberg, Nebraska’s state treasurer, is a candidate with strong name recognition numbers, but scarce financial support.
A Senate candidate for the fourth time — he was the Republican nominee in 2000 — Stenberg entered October with $18,000 in campaign cash on hand compared to $1.6 million available to Bruning, the presumed Republican frontrunner.
- Ron Paul and the GOP’s third-party nightmare scenario – Ron Paul is a powerful man.
The Texas Republican Congressman says he has no intention of launching an independent run for president if he loses the GOP presidential primary next year. But, if he happens to change his mind, polling suggests he could have a major impact on the identity of the next president.
A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that an independent bid from Paul would garner 18 percent of the national vote. Perhaps more important, it would swing the popular vote toward President Obama by a large margin — 44 percent to 32 percent in a hypothetical three-way matchup that also includes former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
In a head-to-head race with Romney, Obama leads by a far more narrow 49 percent to 43 percent.
“Dr. Paul has strong crossover appeal, and could do very well as an independent,” Paul campaign manager Jesse Benton told The Fix. “He has, however, decided to remain in the GOP, as he has for over 20 years in Congress, and use that appeal to beat President Obama as the Republican nominee.”
But, what if Paul doesn’t wind up as the GOP nominee? It’s not hard to see how a Paul third-party candidacy could create a nightmare scenario — albeit an unlikely one — for Republicans.
As we’ve discussed previously on this blog, a third-party bid is a very difficult undertaking, and there are relatively few politicians — we’re thinking Paul, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and self-promoter Donald Trump here — who could actually pull it off. A politician essentially needs vast personal wealth, name recognition or an extremely devoted following — and ideally all three. And, even then, they have precious little chance of winning.
- Karen Kraushaar, second Cain accuser wants ‘joint press conference’ – A second woman — Karen Kraushaar, a communications official at the Treasury Department – has come forward to identify herself as a woman who says she was sexually harassed by Herman Cain.
Kraushaar was one of the two women originally mentioned in a POLITICO story that appeared Oct. 30. Kraushaar and another employee of the National Restaurant Association had complained about Cain’s behavior to colleagues and senior officials at the NRA, and both women left the trade group with a cash settlement. Kraushaar received about $45,000.
POLITICO initially had shielded Kraushaar’s identity to protect her privacy, but on Tuesday, Kraushaar agreed that her identity could be revealed.
Kraushaar, 55, said in an interview with POLITICO that she would like to band together with the other three women accusing Cain of harassment.
“That would be my preference, that we all go together in a joint press conference,” she said, noting that she’s turned down interview requests from a number of TV news shows.
Kraushaar said she had not talked to the other women about such an idea and that such a plan would be executed by their attorneys.
Now the spokesperson for IRS’s Inspector General, Kraushaar has worked as a career federal government official for different agencies in Washington. A Brown graduate, Kraushaar received a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and began her career as a print journalist.
On the details of Cain’s allegedly inappropriate behavior with the two women, POLITICO had a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.
- Poll: Cain favorability slips with Republicans as allegations mount – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room – Poll: Cain favorability slips with Republicans as allegations mount
- Poll: Cain favorability slips with Republicans as allegations mount – Forty percent of Republicans have a less favorable view of Herman Cain after watching the press conference in which Sheila Bialek accused the GOP presidential candidate of groping her in a car, according to a Reuters-Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.
39 percent of Republicans polled said they believe the allegations against the candidate are true. On Tuesday Cain accused Bialeck of lying, and said he doesn’t “remember knowing her.”
While recent polls show that Cain continues to match up well against his GOP rivals, a Gallup poll released on Tuesday showed Cain’s “positive intensity score” has plummeted in the week’s since the sexual harassment allegations were first made public.
Bialek is the fourth woman to accuse Cain of sexual harassment but the first to do so publicly. Cain has strongly denied the accusations, and his campaign responded by attacking Bialeck’s credibility on Tuesday, saying she has a “long and troubled” history.
- Herman Cain holds news conference on sexual harassment accusations (Live video, tweets) – Election 2012 – The Washington Post – RT @washingtonpost: Herman Cain now: “I tried to remember if I recognized her. And I didn’t.” #video
- Need To Know Videos – NationalJournal.com – RT @nationaljournal: Cain: The charges, and accusations, I absolutely reject. They simply didn’t happen.
- (403) http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/11/08/nbc-to-air-the-biggest-loser-where-are-they-now-special-on-wed – (403) …
- President 2012: Let’s Get this Done | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – President 2012: Let’s Get this Done #tcot #catcot
- (403) http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2011/11/08/nbc-to-air-the-biggest-loser-where-are-they-now-special-on-wednesday-november-23/110032/?&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter – NBC to Air ‘The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now” Special on Wednesday, November 23
- NBC to Air ‘The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now” Special on Wednesday, November 23 – November 8, 2011 – It’s an inspiring Thanksgiving special unlike any before on “The Biggest Loser,” when the holiday treat “The Biggest Loser: Where Are They Now?” premieres on Wednesday, November 23 (9-11 p.m. ET). Viewers can catch up with some of their favorite contestants from past seasons of the series, but they’ll also be treated for the first time ever to hilarious bloopers featuring the trainers, host Alison Sweeney and the contestants.
Alison Sweeney hosts the special, filmed before a live audience, and trainers Bob Harper, Anna Kournikova and Dolvett Quince will all be on hand to share their thoughts about the current season of the show. Cameras will also follow trainer Bob Harper through “a day in the life.” And a blooper reel adds to the fun, giving viewers a backstage pass to some of the funniest behind-the-scenes moments with the host, trainers and season 12 contestants.
One contestant makes a big surprise announcement, and another shares her emotional story of competing in one of the most difficult competitions in the world. And “The Biggest Loser” family comes together to help one of their own – season nine contestant Sam Poueu – and give an update on his condition following his terrible accident. Plus, cooking expert Aida Mollenkamp will prepare a healthy Thanksgiving feast for the trainers and past season contestants, and share great cooking tips as well.
Fan favorites like Abby Rike (season eight), Tara Costa (season seven), O’Neal Hampton (season nine) and season five winner Ali Vincent will reveal what they are up to now, along with season eight champ Danny Cahill and season 11 winner Olivia Ward. Viewers can also catch up with Hannah Curlee (season 11) and Jesse Atkins (season 10) as well as other popular players like season seven’s Sione Fa and Jerry and Estella Hayes, who give their updates via personal videos.
I attended the taping!
- Cain surrogate warns “elites in conservative media” – Niger Innis, the national spokesman for the Congress of Racial Equality and a “volunteer adviser” for Herman Cain’s campaign, goes on Fox News to attack a group that hasn’t been terribly sympathetic to Cain’s woes — the “elites in the conservative media.”
“I would caution Karl [Rove], I would caution members of the conservative elite that sexual harassment today is being used as a powerful, political weapon the same way that the race card today is used as a powerful, political weapon.
And I would caution these elites in the conservative media, as well as in the liberal media: do you really think it’s just going to end — this political tool — with Herman Cain? I caution them to be careful about what they say.”
A little risky. Cain needs all the friends he can get right now, and this won’t make an already leery portion of the media think more hospitably of him.
By the way, here’s some more small evidence of the Cain campaign’s notoriously inept handling of all this.
At the beginning of the interview, Innis takes care to say he’s not speaking for the Cain campaign, but Fox News host Jon Scott later objected, saying that Fox News was told he was speaking for the campaign. By the end of the chat, it was unclear whom Innis was actually speaking for.
- Herman Cain accuser has history of financial troubles, legal squabbles – The emerging portrait of Herman Cain’s most recent accuser shows a suburban homemaker with a history of financial and legal troubles, but one who supporters say has the guts to do the right thing.
Sharon Bialek, 50, is the fourth woman — and the first publicly — to accuse the Republican presidential hopeful of sexual harassment. In a dramatic news conference Monday in New York, Bialek, a former employee of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation, said she had sought Cain’s help in finding a new job in July 1997 shortly after the organization had fired her.
Instead, Bialek said, Cain, who was then head of the restaurant association, reached under her skirt while the two were seated in a parked car and attempted to move her head toward his crotch. Cain’s campaign quickly issued a denial, calling her allegations “completely false.”
Bialek said she shared her allegations with her then-boyfriend and another male friend shortly after her meeting with Cain. However, the man she is now engaged to said she did not tell him about her history with the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO until Friday night, when she told him she was going to New York for the news conference.
Her fiance, Mark Harwood, said he was in “a bit of shock” but admired her decision to come forward.
“It’s not an anti-political thing. It’s not a money thing,” said Harwood, who shares a large, five-bedroom home with Bialek in north suburban Mundelein. “She’s just trying to do the right thing, and that takes guts.”
- Cain attacks accuser, cites woman’s ‘long and troubled history’ – Herman Cain’s campaign on Tuesday challenged the credibility of Sharon Bialek, who has publicly accused the GOP presidential candidate of making an unwanted sexual advance.
The campaign released a memo to the press detailing what it characterized as Bialek’s “long and troubled” history, including a 1999 paternity dispute, to argue the public should trust Cain over his latest accuser.
“In stark contrast to Mr. Cain’s four decades spent climbing the corporate ladder rising to the level of CEO at multiple successful business enterprises, Ms. Bialek has taken a far different path,” the Cain release said.
“The fact is that Ms. Bialek has had a long and troubled history, from the courts to personal finances – which may help explain why she has come forward 14 years after an alleged incident with Mr. Cain, powered by celebrity attorney and long term Democrat donor Gloria Allred.”
The Cain campaign goes after Bialek’s employment history and legal record in making its case against her. It lists six civil lawsuits against Bialek, and suggests she has had a troubled worklife.
“Ms. Bialek has worked for nine employers over the last seventeen years,” the campaign writes.
Bialek on Monday held a New York press conference to highlight an incident in 1997 in which she said Cain sexually harassed and attempted to grope her. Cain has denied the charges.
At the time, Cain headed the National Restaurant Association, where Bialek worked for a short time in 1996 and 1997.
Bialek said she approached Cain for help in finding another job after she left the National Restaurant Association.
With Allred at her side, Bialek said Cain, after a dinner in Washington, had put his hand under her skirt and reached for her genitals. She also said Cain had taken her head and moved it toward his crotch.
When Bialek asked Cain to top, she said Cain said, “You want a job, right?”
- Herman Cain campaign launches attack on accuser Sharon Bialek – Alexander Burns – POLITICO.com – RT @politico: From @aburnspolitico: The Cain camp launches a lengthy attack via email on Sharon Bialek —
- The Morning Flap: November 8, 2011 | Flap’s Blog – FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog – The Morning Flap: November 8, 2011 #tcot #catcot