Archive for the 'Massachusetts politics' Category

07
Sep
08

Democracy? We don’t need no stinkin’ democracy!

Greetings from Loony Massachusetts, the second goofiest state in the country!

This one has me really riled up! It may seem at first like a local issue, but it is already happening in other parts of the country. The implications here are ominous, not just for smokers, but for the very concept of representative democracy.

According to an article in the Boston Globe yesterday, “cigarette sales at Boston drugstores and on college campuses would be banned under sweeping new tobacco control rules likely to win initial approval today from health regulators.” Furthermore, after a five-year grace period, the city would close cigar bars, which are the only remaining public establishment where people can smoke indoors. It would seem that the Public Health Commission finds the sale of tobacco products to be “incompatible with the mission of a drugstore.”

They did not offer any rationale for the closing of the few remaining cigar bars in the city. But then, they didn’t really have to, did they?. The Public Health Commission doesn’t like smoking. THAT’S the rationale. The sad truth is, in this city, they don’t need any other.

What I find more disturbing about this than anything is that a handful of non-elected bureaucrats believe that it is up to them to decide what the “mission” of a private business should be. What is genuinely troubling here is that the Boston Public Health Commission is answerable to NO ONE except the Mayor. They do NOT answer to the City Council, and therefore, by extension, they are not answerable to the people. They have complete autonomy to pass whatever laws they wish irrespective of the wishes of the people. Of course, they call them “regulations” rather than laws, but what’s the difference, really? The head of the Commission is for all practical purposes a dictator when it comes to any matter that she perceives to be a matter of public health. And yet these non-elected bureaucrats, who make no effort at all to hide their anti-tobacco agenda, are in a position to dictate that a private business cannot sell tobacco, even though tobacco is a completely legal product that is, by the way, still enjoyed by millions of people.

Their pitch that selling tobacco is incompatible with the “mission” of drugstores is nothing more than a red herring. Drug stores nowadays are, for all intents and purposes, glorified convenience stores. You can buy many, many things at a drug store that have nothing to do with medicine. In fact, you can buy a lot of things there that are quite bad for your health, such as candy, junk food, and tonic (what the rest of the world outside Boston calls soda pop). So is the Public Health Commission proposing banning the sale of those things in drug stores and college campuses? No, of course not.

This alone demonstrates the utter hypocrisy of the Commission regarding this issue. This is NOT about improving public health. That goal was achieved several years ago when Boston, and in fact the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts, passed laws making it illegal to smoke indoors, with only private homes and cigar bars as the exception. Massachusetts is 99.9% smoke free. The public is in no danger from second hand smoke (not that they ever were in the first place).

This brings me to my next point. What I find even more disturbing in this article is the Commission’s stated goal of closing cigar bars within five years. It is unthinkable that in a free society that non-elected officials can, on a whim, CLOSE DOWN NOT JUST A BUSINESS, BUT AN ENTIRE INDUSTRY THAT IS SELLING A LEGAL PRODUCT!!!!

Sorry, didn’t mean to shout there, but this one makes me truly angry! They claim to be concerned about the health of the employees, but this is ineffable rubbish. Employees who work in cigar bars are almost ALWAYS cigar smokers themselves who not only were aware that smoking was allowed in these places, but in fact sought employment there for that very reason! If the Public Health Commission is truly so concerned about the welfare of these employees, it should reconsider its decision to throw those employees out of work.

What this is about is no less than Prohibition through the back door. As things stand now, there is certainly no shortage of smoke free bars in Boston, for the simple reason that they’re ALL smoke free. So why can’t there be a few places where people who enjoy smoking (and there are many, many of us still out there) can do so? I can think of no rational reason to eliminate the city’s three or four remaining cigars bars except anti-smoking zealotry. A handful of anti-tobacco zealots, not satisfied with banning smoking in bars, restaurants, and workplaces throughout the city, want to stamp out smoking altogether–under the now disingenuous pretext of “public health”– by outlawing the last few places where people who like to smoke can do so in a welcoming environment, while not in any way inconveniencing non-smokers.

But the real danger in all of this is not the further harassment of smokers here in Boston, although that certainly is an issue here. What is happening here is nothing less than the erosion of representative government. As I stated before, the Public Health Commission does not answer to the City Council. What this means is that I can get on the phone and talk to my city councilor until I’m blue in the face, and even if he or she happens to agree with me, the councilor cannot do anything. This is not how representative democracy is supposed to work. When a handful of appointed bureaucrats can trump the power of the people’s elected representatives, then democracy begins to die a slow death.

This may not generate a lot of ire in the populace, simply because, once again, it’s only the smokers who are getting shafted, and no one really cares about what smokers want, right? But just remember, if a handful of non-elected bureaucrats can take away my rights today, they can take away your rights tomorrow.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I’m off to smoke a cigar in the privacy of my own home. While I am still allowed to by the Public Health Commission, that is.

-Smith

22
Jul
08

Yet Another Rant

More things that puzzle, perplex, and just plain piss me off.

In yet another sad and infuriating case of political correctness trumping over literacy, Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield was ordered by a judge to apologize for calling the central collections office that is used to process traffic ticket payments a “black hole”. It seems the judge doesn’t realize “black hole” is a scientific term for a well documented natural phenomenon. My question is: how did this moron ever get to be a judge?

As if I needed another reason not to vote for Barrack Obama, there’s this little beauty: “I don’t understand when people say ‘We want English only’. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English–they’ll learn English–you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish!” I have some news for the good Senator. First of all, most public school curricula require taking at least a few years of a foreign language. If you go to any government buildings, and most shopping malls, all the signs are printed in English and Spanish anyway. But more importantly, last time I checked, this is an English speaking nation. English is our lingua franca. Anyone who doesn’t understand that a language is an important part of a country’s national identity simply isn’t qualified to be the leader of that country.

On a similar note, here in loony Massachusetts, the MIRA (Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy) recently was on Beacon Hill, advocating full “civil and human rights of all illegal immigrants”, according to a column Michael Graham wrote in the Jewish World Review. Evidently these people either have poor grasp of the English language, or the law, or both. Let me help by giving the definition of illegal: “forbidden by law or statute.” Hard to understand? Too ambiguous? I don’t think so. Furthermore, here in Massachusetts, illegal immigrants can recieve free medical care, access to our public schools, subsidized housing, and, by the way, jobs that pay a lot more than they’d earn back home. More than one Massachusetts town, Cambridge to name just one, has declared itself a “safe haven” for illegal immigrants, vowing to not cooperate with federal authorities. Do you know what this is called in most countries? Treason. And what’s truly bizarre about this is that if I light up my cigar in a Cambridge restaurant, I become a criminal, and rest assured, that law is vigorously enforced. I guess some criminals are better than others.

In two separate article today, I read how the Catholic church is threatening to excommunicate a splinter group that has ordained three women priests. Also, the Anglican church has forbidden an openly gay bishop from attending the Lambert conference. Now, certainly people can disagree as to the various merits of each position, but it seems to me that, in an age when these churches are losing members in droves (at least in this country) things like this demonstrate that organized religion seems more committed to its own destruction than all the Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers in the world combined.

Speaking of religious lunacy, in another dismaying example of Europe allowing itself to be bullied by religious fanatics, Great Britain’s Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, said he was willing to see Sharia law operate in the country, so long as it did not conflict with the laws of England and Wales, or lead to the imposition of severe physical punishments. My question is: how are they going to do this? Sharia law is particularly harsh, including such punishments as flogging, stoning, the cutting off of hands or death. This is a steep, slippery slope that the UK finds itself on. If Muslims are allowed to be a law unto themselves, why not Jews, Christians, and Buddhists? All these groups have their own religious laws. But I have this quaint belief that those laws should be subordinate to the laws of the nation. To have it any other way is to invite sure and certain chaos. Now I realize that Great Britain has never codified separation of church and state in the way the United States has, but isn’t this going a little too far?

Proving yet again that brainpower is not exactly a hallmark of the dysfunctional Spears family, 17 year old Jamie Lynn Spears tells “OK!” magazine that being an unwed teenage mother is “the best feeling in the world”. Nice going, Jamie. That’s JUST the message teenage girls need to hear. I’m sure those girls in Gloucester who all got pregnant, allegedly as the result of a pact, will be thrilled to hear you’re having “so much fun.” Naturally, feminists and leftists breathlessly huff about the need for more sex education and teen accessible birth control, and perhaps they have a point (teenagers are having sex, whether we like it or not) but in addition to those things, how about instilling in teenagers more discipline, and a stronger sense of (gasp!) responsibility?

Sure, she may have the money to live in a fantasy world, but most teenage girls don’t, and their lives are irretrievably ruined when they get pregnant. They don’t realize the high cost of getting themselves out of the trouble that emulating your–and your sister’s–behavior will land them in. Babies cost money. So does detox. So does a divorce. If Jamie Lynn Spears wants to throw away her teenage years and have a baby, that’s her business. I just wish she’d keep her big mouth shut about it.

Speaking of which, you all have no doubt heard about Alex Rodriguez’s dalliance with Massachusetts hair dresser and former stripper Candice Houlihan. Now I’m not a prude. I realize people cheat on their spouses all the time. But what I find disturbing is Houlihan’s callous way of completely disassociating herself from any responsibility for her actions. “I know how it feels to be cheated on, it sucks,” she grouses. “But a couple of drinks later, I didn’t notice all that much.” Of course, it was the bartender’s fault! Now she’s all bent out of shape at the negative publicity she’s getting. “He’s the one who had the pregnant wife at home”, she huffed to the Boston Herald. You’re right, honey, A-Rod is an asshole, too. But you’re just as guilty here. You’re the one who screwed a married guy, remember? And you’re the one who went public about it. So shut your mouth and enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame. It’s sure to be the last you’ll ever have.

And so the insanity just keeps piling higher and higher. Until next time….

-smith

03
Jul
08

The shakedown begins today

Normally, I don’t like to let other people speak for me, but today I read this column by Howie Carr of the Boston Herald, and it’s as if he had read my mind. This is one of those rare times when I can honestly say that I absolutely, positively agree with everything he says here.

But before I hand it off to Howie, I want to make a few points of my own. First, I am not trying to defend cigarettes. Anyone who hasn’t lived under a rock for the last forty years knows that cigarettes are bad for you. But it’s unfair and just plain wrong to keep picking the pockets of smokers simply because they have become a politically impotent minority. Funny how you never see anyone suggest an increase in the tax on booze.

It simply amazes me how proponents of this tax manage to say–with a straight face–that this increase will simultaneously decrease smoking and increase revenue. Those who think they can tax tobacco out of existence are sadly deluded on two counts. First, there are three things that humans have always done: drink, smoke, and gamble. They have always been willing to spend money to do these things, and they have always been willing to break the law to do these things. Laws prohibiting these things have never actually stopped them, merely driven them underground and into the hands of criminals.

Secondly, they are truly deluded if they think the government really wants to eliminate smoking. Tobacco taxes are an integral part of any state’s budget. Without tobacco taxes, there would be a serious shortfall that would have to be made up with–guess what?–more taxes.

But there is such a thing as killing the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. You can push people too far, and, judging from conversations I’ve had with people, we in Taxachusetts may very well be at that point. Governor Tailpipe tells us that it will raise $1.74 million in new tax revenue. Yeah, for New Hampshire. Live Free or Die? Well, New Hampshire may not be free, but they’re a hell of a lot cheaper than Massachusetts.

Howie mentions that the vote was 93-52, with 33 Democrats joining the 19 lonely Republicans in our state House. Had there been a Republican governor in the Corner Office instead of Governor Tailpipe, a veto could have been sustained.

Where have you gone, William Weld? Our Commonwealth turns it’s lonely eyes to you.

-Smith




taking up a glowing cinder with the tongs and lighting with it the long cherry-wood pipe which was wont to replace his clay when he was in a disputatious rather than a meditative mood" ~ Dr. John H. Watson ************************
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