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Mark Stroup

Thank you for being an alarmist, Sam.

I'm not a libertarian and believe we can all work toward a common good. I think, though, that those who advocate smoking bans smell the blood on the water. How much longer till the next regulation frenzy? How much do we really want to live in a padded, inoffensive, totally-insured, bubble world?

Won't someone please think . . .

Ed Heath

Well, OK. I will certainly concede that your view of both the Times and the PG has some merit. I mean, the PG is the biggest fish around in terms of having a soap box, and is inclined to preach to what it thinks is to it’s choir on topics. It is possible the PG’s editorials will influence Council’s or, if a smoking ban were put to a vote, the public’s view on such a smoiking ban. And yeah, I think we agree the science leans towards the harmfulness of smoking even for bystanders, *without* nearly being clear about it. And yeah, saying the science is absolutely clear is wrong. By the way, the only anti smoking advocate I know personally is really irritating and inflexible on the subject.

What’s funny to me is that the middle ground does seem to be disappearing. Did you catch "Meet The Press" on Sunday? I don’t know your view of William Safire; I tend to think his claim of being a Libertarian is pretty legitimate. I often disagree with him, but I respect his attempt at consistency (pretty rare among pundits these days). He was the most polite part of a whine-y argument between Bill Bennett on one side, and Safire, John Harwood of the WSJ, Dana Priest (sp) of the Washington Post and the supposed moderator Andrea Mitchell on the other side. The thing is, Bennett has real friends in influential places, and his point was that the press needs to be reined in and perhaps muzzled in places where it disagrees with the administration might be a real threat. Safire was apparently genuinely alarmed that reporting and lord knows even editorializing might become prosecutable offenses. Now, to be sure they were talking about national security, but if the Republican congress can ride a tide of anti media publicity, could they write a law broad enough to curb the press generally? And could the Supreme Court be tipped just far enough to let that one go? Alarmist, to be sure, but a few years ago I would have said that maybe the US would torture in the ticking bomb kind of case, but never as a long term, indiscriminate sort of policy. And yet…

I will say this: again I lament the disappearance of the middle (I guess it isn’t exciting enough for TV). I will also say I sort respect your desire to hold on to the right to smoke (to do harm to ones-self), as part of a general group of personal rights. But you know, outside of Pittsburgh and other, mostly coastal cites, it’s the other side that is making the decisions and redistricting and maneuvering to keep them selves in power. What is your take on the administration’s refusal to allow the morning after pill to go over the counter? Seems like the right’s view of personal freedoms break along religious lines, where some matters should not be left up to individuals. Am I wrong in saying that personal liberties are being squeezed from both sides? And maybe the republicans are in some ways more serious and less silly.


Oh, by the way, surely some sort of order to breast feed is unenforceable. I mean, I am assuming the ‘Times science is accurate, and so people should perhaps be urged. But our government pretends it can’t find illegal aliens, how would it monitor recalcitrant mothers?

Yes, pretends it can’t find illegal aliens, apparently you can just check Chinese restaurants, building cleaning crews and poultry plants and you will find a bunch.

Sam M


Enforcability is an interesting issue. Or at least it used to be. Today, it seems almost like a quaint concern.

See, the government doesn't worry about enforcing troublesome rules. The smoking ban, for instance, would be nearly impossible to enforce if it actually banned smoking in someone else's bar. But as I understand it, the health brigade is quite creative. See, what they actually criminalized is allowing someone else to smoke in YOUR bar.

See the difference? The government has basically forced bar owners--willing or not--to become deputies and enforce the rule. If not, the government takes away your liquor license or levies fines that are so heavy it drives you out of business. If they just made the smoking illegal, I am sure patrons would simply post a sentry at the door. Or take their chances. What are the odds that the police would actually bother enforcing a rule if no one at the bar complained? Practically nil.

This is a pattern repeated time and time again. Can't control drug money? Force banks to report "suspicious activity." Can't track communications? Hit up QWEST for it. The list goes on and on.

How would it work with breastfeeding? Who knows. Instead of restricting yourself to arresting people in the act of bottlefeeding, you could criminalize the possession of bottles. Or force doctors to report suspiciously unsuckled breasts to the proper authorities.

Ridiculous? You tell me. Regulations regarding breastfeeding would be to protect the children, after all. And maybe if all you baby killers would stop kissing the feet of the Big Formula we could...

Oh, you get the point.

I know. Sounds silly. Far fetched. But all of these things do at first. Then slowly but surely the tide changes and we go from banning cigarettes in elevators to banning them in private homes. Next come the Twinkies. Then the boobs.

I don't know what's scarier: That our self-appointed elite are so smug as to foist these regulation on us, or that the rank and file actually comply.

My only comfort in recent days has been the complete disregard the kids in this neighborhood show toward laws against fireworks. They have some big bombs, man. Someone might lose a finger one of these days. Or even an eye. But goddammit, it's the Fourth of July.

Fire 'em up, kids. Run quick when the wick starts hissing. And have some joy while it lasts.

Because it ain't gonna last long, at this rate.

Amos the Poker Cat

I am in favor of any entry with nipple in the title.

Ya, I saw MtP. Typical set up job. Three people with the standard left of center point of view, and a sympathetic "moderator", and one token conservative. Safire calls himself a "conservative libertarian", not a plain vanilla libertarian. Yet he admits to voting for Clinton. Does not seem like much of a conservative to me. Although, he now regrets that vote.

That segment muddy the water between prior restraint on publishing, i.e. the Pentagon papers, and taking responsability for the damage done after classified specifics are published. One of the many canards thrown out was NYT's story was already reported in "The One Percent Doctrine" book. I heard the author reply and debunk this lie. Suskind repeated vetted the book with intelligence officials to make sure nothing classified was released.

The other canard thrown out, was the "how dumb do you think terrorist are?". Remember when OBL used satelite phones? Remember when he stopped? Remember why?

Ohio County in WV is the only place I know of where a state wide ban on smoking in bars was actively being ignored. They are even starting a recall.

AH, the 4th. Nanny State-ism, and disregard for silly law.

'Tis the season.

Snap. Crackle. Pop.


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