Archive for the 'the state of the world' Category



14
Sep
08

This is the future

The anti tobacco movement is reaching new heights of audacity in their desire to curb personal freedom and turn law abiding citizens into criminals. As this newspaper article from the future shows, I will not go quietly.

September 13, 2040

Residents of a quiet Boston neighborhood were stunned to learn of the arrest and imprisonment of Stephen Smith, an elderly neighbor, on charges of tobacco possession. Neighbors expressed shock and dismay at the news that this seemingly respectable senior citizen had, in fact, been a secret tobacco user for many years.

“He seemed like such a nice old man”, said one neighbor who did not wish to be identified. “We never suspected he was a tobacco user. We thought he just smoked marijuana like the rest of us. I’m totally outraged when I think that he was putting the entire neighborhood at risk from his second hand tobacco smoke. How could he be so irresponsible? Everyone knows second hand tobacco smoke kills on contact.”

Neighbors became suspicious when they noticed an odd smell eminating from his pipe one day. Apparently Smith had devised a clever scheme to hide his tobacco use, mixing judicious amounts of the illegal leaf with the high quality marijuana he was often seen smoking in his beloved briar pipes. According to sources, he had been stockpiling tobacco for several years prior to its outlawing in 2013, the same year marijuana was legalized by then president Nancy Pelosi as her first act in office.

“It was the Latakia that tipped us off”, said an unnamed police source. “Nothing smells that bad. He kept putting more and more of it in his marijuana.”

Police raided Smith’s home in the early morning, dragging the elderly man from his bed as he was still clutching his briar. As he was being stuffed into the back of the police cruiser, neighbors could hear him shouting, “You can have my tobacco when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers!”

If convicted, Smith, given his advanced age, would probably be able to avoid a lengthy prison sentence by voluntarily enrolling in a tobacco re-education program and remaining tobacco free thereafter. He would also have to register with the police as a Level 3 tobacco user, and avoid all contact with children.

He would still, of course, be permitted to smoke as much pure marijuana as he likes.

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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

04
Sep
08

Sorry, Sarah

I had a post all written and ready to go about Sarah Palin. But I knew she would be speaking at the RNC last night, so I thought it only fair to hear what she had to say before pulling the trigger.

Speaker after speaker took the podium. Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Linda Lingle, and Mike Huckabee all extolled her virtues. I began to wonder if anyone else was seeing the irony here: all four of these people are more qualified to hold the office of Vice President than the person they were praising.

Now don’t get me wrong, here. Sarah Palin gave a hell of a speech. I can see why people like her. Hers is a great American success story: Beauty Queen. Hockey/PTA mom. Mayor. Governor. VP candidate. Americans, and women in particular, have reason to feel proud of her and her accomplishments, even if one doesn’t agree with her politically. Most importantly, she and McCain have given Republicans a reason to feel good about themselves for the first time in a long time.

What I particularly admire about her is how she didn’t simply choose to ride her good looks to wherever they might take her. She was determined to use her obviously considerable brain power, and entered the dirty, male dominated world of politics, and has been wildly successful. In my mind, she gets full kudos for that.

But strangely, the feeling I got deep in my gut as I listened to her is the exact same one I get whenever I hear Barak Obama speak, in spite of their obvious differences. In both cases, I am aware that I am listening to a person of exceptional intelligence, gifted oratory, and vast personal charisma. It is obvious that both Palin and Obama have bright political futures. I will even go out on a limb here and say that either one might make a fine president….some day. But not on this day. Today both are still a little too wet behind the ears for my liking.

I find the argument that she will attract disenchanted Hillary supporters puzzling. No two people could be farther apart politically than Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. (Interestingly, they hold the same position on the death penalty–they are for it–but there’s not much overlap after that.) Unless voting for a female candidate is THAT important to someone, I can’t imagine a Hillary Clinton supporter voting for a pro-life, pro-NRA, pro-creationism candidate, regardless of her gender. In fact, if there are any former Hillary supporters out there who are considering voting for Palin, I would be genuinely interested in hearing from you.

Whenever I have objected to Palin’s lack of experience, it always seems as though someone’s immediate response is, “Well, what about Obama’s lack of experience?”. My answer to that, as I have stated above, is simply to point out that had I any intention of voting for Obama, that argument might have some relevance. But since I don’t, and for exactly the same reasons, that argument is a non starter, at least with me.

So it’s not that I don’t like Sarah Palin. I do, up to a point. I don’t agree with her on issues like sex education and teaching creationism in schools, but that’s a subject for another post. It’s not that I think she’s a bad choice, simply that there are better, more experienced ones.

Even if you support McCain (as I do) you have to ask yourself: if Sarah Palin had been running in the Republican primary, would you have even considered voting for her? Even for a second? The answer is surely no. Why not? Again, NOT because she’s a bad candidate, but because there were better ones available to vote for.

With this in mind, I would feel much more comfortable with someone like Joe Leiberman, Rudy Giuliani, or Linda Lingle as second in command. The phrase “a heartbeat away from the presidency” is a bit melodramatic in some cases. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush were likely to die in office. But John McCain is 72, and not a very healthy 72 at that. If he is elected, I have little doubt he will be re-elected. If he doesn’t live to 80, then Sarah Palin, with little executive experience and no experience at all at the federal level, will be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth at a time when we need the most experienced leaders possible at the helm.

McCain’s experience vs. Obama’s lack of it is what McCain had going for him. With another, equally experienced running mate, he might have buried Obama with this issue. But not now. While from a political point of view the move has merit. I am concerned that his choice could leave his ticket vulnerable to the very criticism that has been quite rightly aimed at Obama.

Is this really what American politics has come to? Barack Obama names as his running mate a man who is the very embodiment of the old boy Washington scene he claims to deplore. Can there be any doubt that Biden’s skin color played a role in the decision? Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr labeled Biden “the first white male affirmative action hire in history”. Can their be any doubt that Palin’s gender played a major role in McCain’s decision? But at least Biden brings some experience in federal government to the table, the kind of experience that Obama sorely lacks. Obama can learn from Biden. I’m not sure what McCain can learn from Palin.

I’m still voting for McCain, but I’ll be praying nightly he lives another eight years.

-Smith

12
Aug
08

Finding Maria

If you happen to be walking in Park Square, that area of Boston famous for its parks, expensive restaurants and even more expensive boutiques, you may notice a man who seems very much out of place there, but then, he looks out of place almost anywhere. He is small man, perhaps sixty years of age. His clothes look like he pulled them out of a dumpster. He himself looks like he spent the night in the same dumpster. His hair is dirty and disheveled; he probably has not shaved in days. Behind old, horn rim glasses with badly scratched lenses, his eyes seem to be as out of focus as the glasses probably are. If he notices you, he will sidle up to you, and with a face as expressionless as a cement block, and a voice almost devoid of inflection, ask you for a dollar so he can buy a cup of coffee or some rolling tobacco. His name is Joe, and he visits me at my store every day, after he has scrounged up the necessary two dollars to buy a pack of Bugler tobacco.

Joe’s visits are never uninteresting. He suffers from mental illness, schizophrenia perhaps, although I’m hardly qualified to make that diagnosis. Over the years, he has told me he’s an operative in the CIA, or a General in the Army, or an Admiral in the Navy. He once told me he was suing Lennon and McCartney for plagiarism.

His visits always follow the same pattern. He shuffles in, totally unselfconscious. He greets me with a deadpan expression that would have made Johnny Carson envious. “Hello. How are you today. I’d like a packet of Bugler.” Just like that. Always the same. I sell him his tobacco. Sometimes he tells me about his latest career, sometimes not. But he always gives me a knuckle knock, and shuffles out into the street.

But Joe is no ordinary beggar. Somewhere beneath the scattered rubble of his intellect, there is an educated man. Ask him a question about anthropology, or classical music, and he will astonish you with his knowledge of these subjects. The first time he lectured me about the relative merits of Brahms and Beethoven, I suddenly understood what it might feel like if my cat started speaking to me in Old English, and then maybe rattled off the lacrimosa dies illa for good measure, just to see if I was paying attention. Joe doesn’t know what day of the week, or even what year it is most of the time, but he knows when the pyramids were built, and by whom, and who is buried in each one, and why that’s important.

But it is the mention of chess that really gets Joe to poke his head up from the underbrush of his illusions and suddenly step back into the real world. The man’s knowledge of chess is nothing short of astounding. King’s Gambit, Petrov’s Defense, Queen’s Pawn Game: you name it, Joe knows how to play it. There is not a doubt in my mind that he was once a first rate chess player. The only problem is that after a few minutes, Joe gets tangled up in his hallucinations again and will inform the listener that he plays chess regularly with Bobby Fischer. The rather inconvenient fact that Bobby Fischer is dead doesn’t trip him up at all. Joe plays him every night. Telepathically. And apparently Bobby Fisher isn’t the only one.

And there is one other recurring theme in Joe’s narrative: there is Maria. “I’m going to meet Maria at the Ritz today” he will tell me in all seriousness. “I hope she’ll be there today. I haven’t seen her in a long time.”

He tells me she is his wife, but he hasn’t seen her in many years. Another figment of his already overworked imagination? Something tells me no. On some level, I think this has some basis in reality. A change comes over him when he speaks of her. For a moment his face becomes a little less expressionless. His voice becomes a little more animated. There is a hint, just a hint, of a deep sense of loss when he talks about her. When he comes in the next day, to tell me that Maria wasn’t there, the disappointment in his voice is palpable.

I sometimes find myself wondering who Maria is, or was. I strongly suspect she was a real person in his past. A wife or girlfriend, perhaps. Joe was clearly not always as I see him now. Once he was young, and educated, maybe even handsome. Perhaps Maria left him when his mental illness began to manifest itself.

There’s no point in asking Joe. In his mind, he is always just one day away from being reunited with this woman he clearly loves deeply, be she real or imaginary. Each day brings with it the same series of events: he eagerly anticipates seeing her again; his hopes are inevitably crushed. He buys tobacco and coffee.

She is his personal Godot. In this, Joe is no different, no different at all, from the rest of us, we who in our conceit call ourselves sane. His hope is no less real and his disappointment no less painful because they seemingly have no basis in what we call the real world. What is different is that he goes through this cycle of hope and loss each and every day of his life.

The endless maze of streets that is Boston presents less of a challenge to him than the ever shifting corridors of his mind. Sometimes he finds his way out, only to wander back in and get lost again. That he was once highly educated seems plain. I can only conjecture about when and how he started down the dark deceptive path that led him to a life on the streets.

I’m told Joe has been living on the street for over twenty years. Somehow, he survives. And some day, in one of the dim, shadowy side streets that traverse the fog strewn labyrinth that his mind has become, Joe may find his Maria waiting for him there.

-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

24
Apr
08

be afraid. be very afraid

I don’t normally write a post strictly about something that someone else has written, but once in a while someone says what I’ve been thinking better than I could say it myself.

In today’s Boston Globe Perry Glasser, who coordinates the professional writing program at Salem State College, writes an op/ed piece entitled “The Dance of the Bees”, which really hit home with me.

Those who have read this blog for awhile are familiar with my dismay with the teen and twenty-something generation. One emailer accused me of “hating” teenagers.

Not true. My job brings me in constant contact with older teens and younger twenty-somethings, and I sometimes find their brash way of looking at the world refreshing. But I do feel that this generation, as a group, has been duped into thinking that they will be regarded by their peers as a lower form of life if they don’t have:

  1. A cell phone
  2. An iPod
  3. A Facebook or MySpace page.

Glasser’s piece reflects my own anxieties about this generation. Simply put, these are the people who will be running the joint when I’m ready for the nursing home. Read Glasser’s piece, and be afraid.

Be very, very afraid.

-Smith

11
Apr
08

sometimes, you just want a cigar

One of the advantages of working at a smokeshop is that I get to smoke on the job.

I don’t often show my ugly mug on this blog, but a friend recently snapped this pic of your humble scribe doing one of the things he loves most, so here you go.

I love smoking, I love tobacco, and I personally don’t give a rat’s ass who knows it. Personally I’m getting a little fed up with being vilified by society for indulging in one of life’s great pleasures, a pleasure, I would add, that is, at least for the moment, still completely legal.

The cigar, for the curious, is a “Rocky Patel”, a Honduran cigar with a Sumatra seed, Ecuadorian sun grown wrapper. To put it simply, it is an exquisite cigar

A few random thoughts on smoking here:

Many people (non-smokers, naturally) paint the pipe, cigars, and cigarettes with the same black brush. This is utter rubbish. Comparing cigars to cigarettes is like comparing McEwan’s Scotch Ale or Sam Smith’s Taddy Porter or Old Peculiar Yorkshire Ale to Bud Light.

One drinks a good stout or ale for the flavor. The idea is to taste and enjoy the subtleties and complexities of the brew. The alcohol content, while significant, is of secondary import. But let’s be honest here: no one drinks Bud Light because it tastes good. The only reason to drink this misbegotten beverage is because you want to get drunk and it does the job, quickly and efficiently.

By the same token, no one smokes cigarettes because they taste good. The only reason to smoke a cigarette is to get that six-second-lung-to-brain nicotine hit that a cigarette provides. And just as one might drink Old Peculiar or Sam Smith’s because one appreciates the exquisite flavor of these brews, so one smokes a fine cigar (or pipe tobacco, for that matter) for the flavor. The idea is to taste the tobacco, as the leaves from various subtropical countries combine to form a complex panoply of flavors which intrigue and delight the palate.

I find it astounding that the anti-smoking zealots claim to be doing this “for the children”. Ah, yes, it’s always for the children, isn’t it? Has anyone bothered to take a gander at what the “children” are getting up to these days? Teenagers are binge drinking (usually Bud Light, not Old Peculiar), driving cars after binge drinking, using hard core drugs like cocaine and heroin, indulging in unprotected sex, and posting naked pictures of themselves on the internet. I guess this is okay, because-thank God-THEY’RE SMOKE FREE KIDS!!!! Where the hell are all the public service announcements aimed at discouraging this sort of behavior that can irretrievably alter-or end-their lives in an instant?

Actually, this isn’t even true. The smokeshop where I work is within walking distance of several colleges. Out of curiosity, I recently asked one of them why he had started smoking. I pointed out to him that he was too young to have ever seen a cigarette add on TV. In fact, the only information concerning cigarettes available to him from the electronic media (which is where teens get 99% of their information) was all NEGATIVE. Since this kid was old enough to understand the English language, he has been bombarded with nothing but adds telling him not smoke. So why does he? His answer was simple and to the point: “Everyone was telling me not to do it, so that just made me more determined to try it.” Ah, from the mouths of babes….

Here in Massachusetts, our feckless governor, Deval Patrick, recently held a press conference to announce that there would be no broad-based taxes. The people of Massachusetts, he said, were already paying enough, between soaring gas prices and an already hefty tax burden (they don’t call it “Taxachusetts” for nothing, kids.) Okay, I thought to myself, I can get behind this. For once I thought I found myself agreeing with a Liberal, until I got to the last paragraph of the newspaper story. There it was revealed that Patrick intends to raise the cigarette tax by a dollar a pack. Evidently the cigarette tax does not fall into the category of “broad based tax”.

The truth, of course, is that tobacco taxes are the favorite method of politicians who are too cowardly to implement an increase in the gas tax, or alcohol tax, or any sort of tax that might actually get them booted out of office by an incensed and already overburdened electorate. Tobacco taxes are safe because they only affect a now politically impotent minority, and besides, it’s “for the children.” I find it supremely ironic that Liberal Democrats, who are supposed to be the party of compassion and the common man have no problem resorting to this most regressive of taxes when it suits their purposes.

Unlike cigarettes, cigars are not physically addictive. You don’t “Jones” for a cigar the way you do for a cigarette. This is because you don’t inhale cigars. As mentioned before, the idea is to taste the tobacco, and to this end one simply “sips” the tobacco into the mouth, lets it linger there for a moment or two, and then exhales it. While a small amount of nicotine does enter the bloodstream through the lining of the mouth, it is not in sufficient quantities to create a physical addiction. Rather, it is a gradual and relaxing process, which is why smoking a pipe or cigar is such an effective way to relax.

Which, now that I think about it, is what I need to do right now.

-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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A Boston University Physician exposes the fallacies of the anti-smoking movement.

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