Waiting for Evidence, or Banning Now?

You may have noticed lately that there is suddenly a campaign against vaping. It’s stupid, unnecessary, and unwarranted. But that never stopped people who want to control you. Paul Mirengoff at PowerLine reminds us:

Consumption of cigarettes is the leading cause of preventable death in this country. David Abrams, a professor at New York University’s College of Global Public Health, estimates that 1,300 people die from smoking every day. The life expectancy of a cigarette smoker is said to be a decade less than someone who has never smoked.

Vaping is a method of taking in nicotine, via e-cigarettes, that unlike smoking cigarettes, does not involve the intake of tar. And it is tar that causes the cancer that produces death. If cigarette smokers switch to vaping, they are far less likely to die from the habit.

Already smokers’ lives are in the process of being saved, thanks to vaping. Its advent has led to a significant reduction in the consumption of cigarettes.

Recently, however, there have been half a dozen vaping-related deaths, and a significantly larger number of vaping-related hospitalizations. This development, coupled with concerns that teenagers are becoming addicted to vaping (a concern I discussed here), has led to serious attempts to curb, if not eliminate, the practice.

That is spot on. I know this, back in 2013, I switched from smoking to vaping, within weeks I quit coughing, and much of my endurance came back. The surprising thing is that I also find that I can go far longer without vaping than I could smoking. I perhaps vape a bit more heavily than I should, but I was smoking 2 and sometimes more packs of filtered cigars a day. A huge improvement, and everybody I know that has made the switch says much the same.

Adam Mill at The Federalist adds this:

Vaping, we are told, is not an overall benefit to public health because it draws its customers from non-smokers. This is a lie. The real outcry is a result of the fact that vaping poses an existential threat to the tobacco industry’s business model. Sales of cigarettes declined 11.2 percent in May 2019. This follows 18 consecutive months of decline in tobacco sales.

You might also note, as I do, that much more than half the price of a pack of cigarettes is tax, Federal, state and local. So who is hurt most by the reduction in cigarette sales? Why does New York worry more about cigarette smuggling than they do gun smuggling? Very good. I knew you could figure it out.

Steven Greenhut at The Spectator chimes in as well.

[Banning alcohol because:  kids] Lawmakers never propose that “solution” because it’s wrong to punish all adults for the actions of a small number of them who provide liquor to teens. Some products — alcohol, tobacco, and guns, to name a few — are meant for adults only. Our society can never completely keep such things out of the hands of underage people who want them, but the sensible approach is to enforce laws that ban their sale to and possession by youngsters.

When it comes to vaping products, however, such good sense often is ignored. Various cities, especially in liberal enclaves in the San Francisco Bay Area, have passed new laws that would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products such as menthol cigarettes and flavored e-cigarette liquids. Now Michigan and New York have banned the sale of flavored vaping products — and the Trump administration is using the Food and Drug Administration to ban flavored e-cigarettes. […]

“The role of flavored vape products in the current outbreak is unknown at this time,” reports National Public Radio. “Some lawmakers and public health advocates have been pushing for flavored vape products to be banned since flavors first entered the market, out of a concern that they appeal to children. The timing of the recent move to ban flavored vape products may be linked to the current public concern about overall e-cigarette safety.”

This is clearly a case of those who oppose vaping in general using the latest crisis as a means to create a banning frenzy. It’s reminiscent of the way that anti-gun legislators use gun-related violence to promote “emergency” policies to ban things they want to ban anyway. It’s disturbing to see President Trump, whose administration has been largely immune to hysteria-driven public-health campaigns, jump on the bandwagon.

Yep, and it’s also noteworthy that the people that died were all, according to reports, not vaping either tobacco flavored or other flavored vaping liquid. The were vaping a marijuana-derived substance called THC. Which is already illegal. Maybe instead of banning things, we should enforce the law. Just a thought.

Preferably before I have to go back to smoking and shortening my life even more.

Parliament Rebels

And so we are witness to an incredible scene in Britain as the Parliament rebels against the government and most especially the people. Not sure I’ve ever seen this before, a putatively elected representative assembly actively and openly seeking to undo what the people expressly said they wanted it to do, and the government is attempting to do.

Theodore Dalrymple explains more on City Journal:

You would have thought, from the howls of outrage that greeted Boris Johnson’s temporary suspension of Parliament, that he had appointed himself prime minister for life. Our democracy was in danger, said the demonstrators against it, when what they really meant was that Johnson’s maneuver had made it harder for Parliament to obstruct the wishes of the people as expressed in the Brexit referendum. Jacob Rees-Mogg was right when he said that the outrage was bogus: it was that of a spoiled child who doesn’t want to go to bed.

Whether the referendum was a good idea in the first place is another question entirely. I think that it was not. Plebiscitary democracy, in which a government puts questions to the population in the expectation of getting the answer it wants, is dangerous. The modern European tradition is to hold a plebiscite and then take no notice of the result if it is “wrong.” This, of course, is the worst of both worlds, but it is what the demonstrating “defenders” of democracy want.

If they had objected beforehand to the whole procedure of the referendum, for example—to the absurdity of deciding so complex a question on the basis of a single vote decided by 50 percent of the votes plus one—those who now decry what Johnson has done might have had a point, but they did not. They expected to win the referendum and only turned against it because of the unexpected result.

It is obvious to all—except perhaps the demonstrators—that Parliament has conducted a long rearguard action against putting into effect the vote that it, led by former prime minister David Cameron, called. The majority of Members of Parliament were opposed to Brexit: but instead of coming straight out with it, they prevaricated so long and so efficiently that they almost scuppered the whole process.

In normal circumstances, Members of Parliament are not obliged to vote according to what the population wants. They are representatives, not delegates with a clearly laid-down mandate to fulfill, and governments have to make hundreds of decisions without reference to the electorate’s wishes, except in a general way. But, having canvassed public opinion in a supposedly binding referendum on a vital subject, to ignore the result can only strengthen the impression that the political class is a law unto itself.

Do read the rest, as usual, it is outstanding.

Which is exactly my thinking. I’m not much of a fan of referenda, but when the legislature calls one, telling the electorate that it will be binding, it is very bad for the legislature to recant just because the people disagree with them. The Parliament is sovereign only to the point that the people expressly allow, and when you ask the boss what he thinks, you pretty much have to go with his thinking.

What this is, of course, is the members of Parliament rebelling at being required to do their jobs and take responsibility, just like a bunch of snowflake students. Well most probably were a few years ago.

The Remainers and rebels against constitutional government won a measure in the Commons yesterday to usurp the government’s control of the legislative calendar, to put it in terms that are, I hope, reasonably accurate and understandable to Americans.

21 Tory (I refuse to call them Conservative since it is an apparent lie) voted to pass this bill, and have had the whip withdrawn (I don’t really understand what this means either, but they seem to think it important). The government has tabled (which in British usage means introduced) a measure to call an early election, and it is quite likely that those 21 members would be deselected as a candidate by the party, leading to their falling off the gravy train. One hopes.

Today the rebels intend to introduce a bill to forbid a WTO exit from the EU. It could well pass, even though it would directly (I think) contradict another law, having the Queen’s assent, that stipulates that very thing if an agreement cannot be reached with the EU.

And there is apparently a plan, if that measure passes in the Commons, to talk it to death in the Lords.

And yes, I may be completely wrong here, so anybody that knows better, please correct me. This nonsense is about as transparent as a concrete wall.

In large measure, the safety of a free people is safeguarded by the sheer messiness and inefficiency of representative government, but the British Parliament is simply making itself a laughingstock, and a watchword of how not to do things. It is close to the point that in the US, would lead to an armed rebellion by the people, but like all governments with authoritarian leanings, the British government, just like Lenin, Hitler, and Mao, long since disarmed their people.

Of course, a lot of this is merely “Run in circles, scream, and shout.” Not a good look though, for the so-called Mother of Parliaments, whether one thinks it useless or senile.

What next? I haven’t a clue, but I think we’ll need more popcorn.

 

Is a Trade Deal a Panacea?

About this Anglo-American trade deal, which John Bolton says will be a reality. Actually, he says we can do a lot of mini ones, sector by sector, sounds good to me, as it does to a lot of Brits. A bit of a dark cloud over it comes from Stumbling and Mumbling via our friends at Notes on Liberty.  They say this:

Brute facts tell us this. As part of the EU, the UK and Germany have the same trading rules. Last year, however, Germany exported $134bn of goods to the US whereas the UK exported only $65.3bn. Per head of population, Germany’s exports to the US were therefore 60% higher than the UK’s. Much the same is true for other non-EU nations. Last year Germany exported $11.8bn to Australia whilst the UK exported just $5.9bn, a per capita difference of over 50%. German exports to Canada were $12bn whilst the UK’s were $7.3bn, a 28% per capita difference. German exports to Japan, at $24.1bn were 2.2 times as great per head as the UK’s. And German exports to China, at $109.9bn were three times as great per capita as the UK’s $27.7bn.

Now, these numbers refer only to goods where Germany has a comparative advantage over the UK. But they tell us something important. Whatever else is holding back UK exports, it is not trade rules. Germany exports far more than the UK under the same rules.

As for what it is that is holding back exports, there are countless candidates – the same ones that help explain the UK’s relative industrial weakness: poor management; a lack of vocational training; lack of finance or entrepreneurship; the diversion of talent from manufacturing to a bloated financial sector; the legacy of an overvalued exchange rate. And so on.

There is truth in that, but I don’t think it’s the whole truth. One, Germany is something of an outlier, it has designed itself to be dependent on exports, in a sense it is like China that way. And also like China, that makes it vulnerable to events elsewhere.

But there is something else that bothers me with the UK, yes, but even more with all of Europe. They appear to have no confidence in themselves, the EU is essentially an economic Maginot line, not designed to make the members more profitable but to prevent them from going broke.

I pay more attention to the UK, so I see it more there, but I think it pervasive. I see few innovations coming out of any of these countries. The British, like us, used to idolize their inventors and entrepreneurs, now they seem to envy them and attempt to destroy them. And above all, they appear to have become welfare babies, completely unwilling to take a risk, no matter how well-considered. This is especially prevalent in the political realm where absolutely no one will call out the politically correct nonsense that Westminster insists on. This is the primary reason for the Brexit debacle, and perhaps including a fair amount of corruption, as well. Even to the point where the British are losing essential freedoms, like speech, as the government tries to protect the useless mouths. And then there is the seditious BBC (and Channel 4), if you think CNN is fake news, you should try these!

Now mind, this is probably not a majority of Britons (or quite a few other nationalities in Europe) but it does appear to be a majority in the City of London/Westminster, in other words in the political/government/big business sphere. For Britain to truly prosper as it once did, it will somehow have to overcome the blob that is holding it back.

That is something a trade deal cannot do for the British. In truth, we’re fighting the same battle.

Above the Law?

So, DOJ Inspector General is going to refer former FBI Director James Comey for prosecution for leaking classified documents. That’s about time, it’s been evident for years. Here’s what Madeline Osburn days in The Federalist.

The report shows that Comey transmitted classified information via an insecure email account and gave memos, some of which were classified up to the “secret” level, to his private lawyers.

One memo in question includes classified information Comey leaked to a friend, with the intention that it would be leaked to the media. Indeed, the New York Times reported information from the “confidential” memo, which said President Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation into then-national security adviser Michael Flynn.

OK, no surprise there, anybody cogent enough to not drink Kool-Aid knew this at least a year ago. It is said that the Attorney General and the Prosecutors find the evidence compelling.

However:

Attorney General William Barr and DOJ prosecutors have reportedly found the IG report compelling but declined to follow through with charges because of a lack certainty surrounding Comey’s intent to break the law.

Investigative journalist John Solomon reported that the DOJ did not want to “make its first case against the Russia investigators with such thin margins and look petty and vindictive.”

Since when is intent to break the law a factor. This is bullshit. I’m quite sure that Lt General Flynn had no intent whatsoever to break the law when he spoke with Mueller. So why was he prosecuted? This strikes me, and many others as being above the law. It angers us deeply.

Maybe it is thin, I’m nobody’s idea of a lawyer, but I’ll say this: There is some more crud coming down from what I hear on Comey, and a lot of other people involved. They had best be prosecuted, win or lose. Why?

Because after the last decade of ruling with a pen and a phone no matter what the law says, confidence in the government is very low. To me and to many others this stinks of “Comey is above the law”. Just like Hillary, just like so many others, and we are out of patience. It’s time for Barr to man up and take his chances in court.

If he loses we’ll be unhappy, but we’re grown-ups, we’ll deal with it. What we’re no longer willing to deal with is a government out of control, enforcing not the law as written, but a bastardized, political law, that does not conform with the old and tried common law.

That strikes many of our countrymen as somewhere between sedition and treason, and very few are willing to tolerate it. If the government won’t fix it, well, Jefferson did say:

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The ball is in your court, Mr. Attorney General.

Suppressing Votes, Google Style

So, you think Google is harmless? I don’t care if you are conservative, liberal, or don’t know up from down, this is frightening stuff.

Now, remember, if Google was simply reminding people to vote, it would be mo big deal, it might even be a public service. But this is not what this is. This is a partisan get out the vote effort. That is bad enough, but that is not all.

 

Google (and most likely all the rest of these lowlifes) is also suppressing speech, but only that of right of center people as part of an intentional scheme to change votes.

We don’t usually get too excited about companies telling us what they think about the candidates, how an election can affect businesses is a valid consideration. But this is more like the phone company arbitrarily deciding that conservatives cannot dial out. See the difference? It’s a major one, and it is corrupting the process.

Here’s the whole hearing, even if you don’t watch the whole for almost two hours (which you should) at least watch Senator Cruz’s opening statement.

And do notice as the Google executive is sworn in, how the revolving door works, it’s a pretty neat treadmill if you can get on it.

 

Herman Wouk

Author Herman Wouk at his home in Palm Springs in 2000. (Los Angeles Times)

It’s strange how things happen. As some of you’ll be aware, I found out a few short weeks ago, while I was on break, that Herman Wouk, one of my favorite authors, was still alive at 103. That was from a post at Warsclerotic that reminded us that Winds of War/War and Remembrance are available on YouTube. I’ve been watching them (binge-watching, really).  Between them, especially the books, they form perhaps the best overall history of World War II.

That was from an article there by the site’s editor, Joseph Wouk, and I commented how much his dad’s writing, going back to The Caine Mutiny when I was perhaps eight years old, had taught me some lessons that had stood the test of time. Joseph kindly informed that his father was still alive and nearing his 104th birthday.

Sadly, he didn’t make it, dying last Friday, writing till the end. That remarkable since his first novel was published shortly after World War II, in which he served as an officer in a destroyer minesweeper, which will sound familiar to anyone who has ever read about the Caine or seen the play or movie adapted from it.

As I told Joseph, The Caine taught me much about organizations and how they work and has stuck with me. In fact, I wrote about it back in 2013, in a post titled Of Mutiny and Education.  What is interesting about what is probably a somewhat inaccurate book review in it, is that I hadn’t read the book in probably 30 years, and a fair amount of it stuck with me. And allowed me to draw lessons from it. And, you know, that article still has lessons for us, as well.

Not surprisingly he’s been eulogized all over the world. You can find quite a few at Warsclerotic. I rather like the one in the LA Times.

Herman Wouk, the prolific and immensely popular writer who explored the moral fallout of World War II in the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Caine Mutiny” and other widely read books that gave Americans a raw look at the horrors and consequences of war, has died at his Palm Springs home, where he wrote many of his acclaimed novels.

Wouk, who was honored by the Library of Congress in September 2008 with its first lifetime achievement award for fiction writing, died in his sleep Friday at the age of 103, his literary agent Amy Rennert told the Associated Press. Wouk was working on a book at the time of his death, Rennert said.

As a writer, Wouk considered his most “vaultingly ambitious” work the twin novels “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance,” about “the great catastrophe of our time,” World War II. Critics, however, considered “The Caine Mutiny” to be his finest work.

Taut and focused, the book is a riveting exploration of power, personal freedom and responsibility. “Caine” won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for literature and was on the New York Times’ bestseller list for more than two years, selling more than 5 million copies in the U.S. and Britain in the first few years after its publication.

In the novel, Wouk creates one of American literature’s most fascinating characters, Philip Francis Queeg, the captain of the U.S. destroyer-minesweeper Caine, who is removed from his command by a lower-ranking officer in the middle of a typhoon.

In one of the book’s most famous scenes, concerning the theft of the captain’s strawberries, Queeg lapses into paranoid incoherence as he is questioned during his court-martial. He pulls a pair of ball bearings from his pocket and obsessively shuffles them in his hand:

“Ah, but the strawberries! That’s, that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with, with geometric logic, that, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. And I would have produced that key if they hadn’t pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. (He pauses, realizing that he has been ranting.)

“Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory.”

Keep reading, nor would it hurt any of us to revisit these works, to learn again how we won the war, but more how we treat people to accomplish our mission, and even more, perhaps, to simply enjoy ourselves. Like a good storytelling father, Herman Wouk brings us a lesson while entertaining us with a ripping yarn.

Rest in peace sir, knowing you are missed, and your memory honored.

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