Two Faces of the EU.

First, the Ukrainian crisis seems only to be deepening:

Commandos have moved on the separatist stronghold of Sloviansk in eastern Ukraine days after a new “anti-terrorist” operation was announced.
A number of casualties were reported among the separatists as the commandos, backed by armour, cleared barricades near the town.
Separatists are occupying key buildings in at least a dozen eastern towns.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of “consequences” if Kiev used the army against its own people.
Speaking on Russian TV as news of the Sloviansk operation was coming in, Mr Putin said: “If the regime in Kiev has begun using the army against the population inside the country, then this is undoubtedly a very serious crime.”

Ukraine is torn between people who owe their allegiance to Russia, and those who have been lured by the EU’s expansion east. It’s a crisis that has been generated by the supranational EU’s expansionism. As Christopher Booker wrote earlier this week:

For 60 years, the “European Project” has been driven by its ideological belief that the evil of “nationalism” must give way to an undemocratic, unaccountable, “supra-nationalism”. But by pushing its “soft power” right up to Russia’s borders, the EU has finally gone a bridge too far. 

That’s one face of the EU. Here’s another:

Cornwall’s claims to a separate culture, language and identity are to be recognised by Europe, the UK government will announce later on Thursday.

The Cornish are to be granted the same status as the Welsh, Scots and Irish under the Council of Europe’s rules protecting national minorities from discrimination.

Danny Alexander, the Liberal Democrat chief secretary to the Treasury – and a Scot – will make the announcement on a visit to the county…

The announcement derives from the Council of Europe’s 1998 Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, originally drafted in the wake of the break up of Yugoslavia and other parts of eastern Europe.

Ever heard of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities? Because I certainly hadn’t.

I wonder if smokers are National Minorities which need Protection? We have our own culture and identity. And arguably our own language. e.g. “gottalite mate?”

But it struck me today that as the EU swallows entire nations as it expands eastwards , it simultaneously acts to fragment those nations, and break them down into smaller and more manageable localities or regions. It does this in order to centralise power in itself, by diminishing the power of its constituent states.

Because if the United Kingdom can be broken into Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland, the political clout of the United Kingdom will be accordingly reduced. And if England can then be further broken up into Cornwall and Devon and Somerset and all the other counties, then the political power of England will be reduced to near-zero. And if the same process is repeated in France (Bretons?), and Spain (Catalonians), and Italy (Venetians), the EU will come to consist of a patchwork quilt of tiny powerless statelets under the central super-government of Brussels or Strasbourg.

It’s the constant refrain of Euro-zealots like Manuel Barroso that Europe’s voice will only count on the world stage when it becomes a unitary state that can rival the USA, China, India, etc. He’s quite right of course. And in Ukraine we can now see where that leads: it has led to the collision of the EU and Russian superstates. Instead of wars between small nation states, we will get wars between superstates.

But the flip side of Barroso’s appeal is that the more power is concentrated in Brussels, the less power resides in the peripheral European member states. And the more these states become fragmented and divided, the less power they can individually exert.

So the larger and more centralised the EU becomes, the more able it becomes able to fight wars with the likes of Russia, and the less able its disempowered citizens are to prevent it from doing so.

And we may be finding exactly this happening very soon.

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Changes

Following on from yesterday’s post, since the 2007 smoking ban I’ve found my attitudes to all sorts of things changing.

For example, I used not to be bothered by people who were antismoking. Quite a few of my friends had gradually turned antismoking. And I felt that they were entitled to their point of view.

I no longer feel that way. I simply don’t want to know people who are frightened of tobacco smoke. Or frightened of carbon dioxide. I think they’re just dickheads. And I wonder why I ever tolerated them at all.

In fact I’m becoming generally a lot less tolerant than I used to be. I used to broadly approve of gay rights, women’s lib, positive discrimination, etc. I was an inclusive kind of guy. I was happy to see excluded and marginalised people included back into society.

But all that stopped when I got excluded and marginalised myself. It’s not possible to continue to be inclusive when you’ve just been excluded. It’s not possible to help drowning people climb into a lifeboat when you’ve just been thrown off it, and are drowning too. And anyone who is being helped aboard now is only there because I was thrown overboard to make room for them.

Immigration never used to be a problem for me. I spent the formative years of my life surrounded by black and brown people in places like Africa and Brazil. But now that I’ve been excluded, I resent the fact that such people are being included. Why should they be included when I’m being excluded?

I used to be fairly progressive and modernistic. But now I’m becoming more and more conservative. The past looks much better than the present or the future.

I used to admire outfits like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth. But now I loathe them.

I used to be quite interested in the occult and magic and astrology. But now it all looks like dangerously irrational nonsense.

I used to want to debate with my enemies. But now I just want to destroy them. Because there’s nothing left to discuss any more. It’s them or me: and I’m on my side.

I used to think it was a good thing that there were no guns in the UK. But now that I see civil war looming on the distant horizon, I want a gun. Because I’ve realised that the government isn’t going to protect me.

These and various other changes in outlook are part of a continuing process. They’re part of a steady slide that seems to only ever go in one direction. It’s a gradual hardening. And there seems to be a remorseless logic to it.

And it’s a journey on which I suspect that a lot of other people have embarked. Many of them may have got a lot further along that path than I have.

And I think that if Britain is changing, with political parties like UKIP on the ascendant, it’s maybe because lots of people have been gradually changing their minds too, much like I have.

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The Implosion of the Political Establishment

I’m rather looking forward to the European elections next month. In the Telegraph, Paul Sykes – UKIP’s principal source of funding – wrote:

In all but name, May 22 is a referendum on our membership of the EU, with a vote for Ukip being a vote for out. An overwhelming victory for the party will break the political mould in the UK, forcing Labour and the Lib Dems to back a full-scale referendum and intensifying the popular pressure for that to be staged much earlier than 2017. 

Well, certainly Europe is pretty central to it. But I think it’s much more than just that. Because when I cast my vote for UKIP next month, it won’t be because I want a referendum on EU membership (actually I don’t, because I think we’d lose), but because Nigel Farage is a smoker, and so One Of Us, and I’m not going to vote for any of the three anti-smoking mainstream parties.

For, as far as I’m concerned, politics is no longer normal. It stopped being normal on 1 July 2007. Before that date I used to routinely vote Liberal Democrat, because ‘liberal’ (in the traditional sense) and ‘democratic’ is pretty much what I am. But since 95% of Lib Dem MPs voted for the UK’s draconian, illiberal, undemocratic, and divisive smoking ban, and so voted to expel me from society, I will never, ever, ever vote for them again. Nor will I ever vote for the Labour party, 90% of whose MPs voted for the ban. And it’s extremely unlikely that I’ll ever vote for Cameron’s Conservatives, despite the fact that 60% of Conservative MPs voted against the ban.

At one blow, I became profoundly alienated from the entire UK political class. And also from the medical establishment in the BMA and the RCP that campaigned so vigorously for the ban. And from the mainstream media who also pushed the antismoking agenda (I no longer have a TV, or buy newspapers). And from the universities that publish junk science (and in which I spent many years).

About the only things that I don’t feel deeply estranged from are the Crown (because the Queen hasn’t joined in the smoker-bashing) and the Church (because the churches haven’t joined in either), and the ordinary people of England (who mostly haven’t either).

Of course, I’m now deeply alienated from the antismoking EU as well, but I have a far deeper sense of estrangement from a set of wholly British institutions than I do from the EU. It’s what’s going on in my own country that disturbs me more than anything that goes on elsewhere. And I retain my deepest animosity for British politicians and public figures rather than foreign ones.

For I didn’t see the smoking ban as a new public health initiative. I saw it as a personal attack on me. And it was a personal attack on me (and on every other smoker in Britain) which rendered ‘normal’ politics – which is about taxation, education, economic policy, etc. – entirely irrelevant. As irrelevant as they would be if someone was standing over me with a boot pressed on my throat (which is more or less what is happening).

That’s how I’ve felt for the past seven years. And I’ve only been getting progressively more estranged as time has gone by.

But how does everyone else feel?

Well, my guess is that all smokers are feeling pretty estranged from a political class that has booted them out of their pubs and cafes and clubs, made pariahs of them, and imposed punitive taxation on them. The ISIS survey provided a glimpse into their world.

But it’s not just smokers. Anyone who is ever so slightly on the tubby side (which I’m not) is also being made a pariah. And also anyone who drinks more than a thimbleful of alcohol a day. And so is anyone who is a Christian. And so is anyone who used to go foxhunting. And in fact so is anyone who is ‘conservative’ with the smallest possible ‘c’. Or patriotic with the smallest possible ‘p’. Or anything else that is in the least bit ‘traditional’ in any way whatsoever.

As I see it, more or less everyone is under attack. And they’re all being told to shape up, shut up, and get with the programme. And increasingly, they don’t want to.

And so I think that while most people may not be quite as terminally alienated as I am, they’re all heading that way. And it’s this deepening mass alienation that is translating into votes for UKIP. The EU may be the headline issue that the pundits latch onto, but it’s much, much deeper than just that. It’s a deepening estrangement between ordinary people and the entire antismoking, healthist, environmentalist, europhile, ‘progressive’ political establishment.

And the most likely outcome, as the alienation grows deeper, is that the entire political establishment will be de-legitimised. It will simply cease to command popular support. The LibLabCon political order of the past 60 years looks set to be swept away.

Now, of course, it might be suggested that all that the mainstream parties need to do is change their tune, tone down the antismoking, environmentalist, europhile rhetoric a bit, and they’ll win back the votes they’ve been losing. But in my case at least, that isn’t going to work. My alienation is terminal. There’s no way that I’m ever going to vote for these people, after what they’ve done. They’ve shown themselves to be totally untrustworthy, and once such trust is lost, it is never regained.

And it’s not just the entire political establishment that has the skids under it, but also the entire media establishment, and the entire medical establishment, and the entire educational establishment, and quite a few other establishments as well. It’s all coming apart. Which is perhaps why, in Britain, attacks on UKIP are becoming more and more ferocious as the establishment grows increasingly desperate.

I’ve been writing tonight about my British experience. But the odd thing is that, if I’d been American or French or German (or more or less any other nationality you care to mention), I’d probably have written more or less exactly the same thing, with appropriate adjustments for each nationality. For more or less the same thing is happening everywhere else.

And so it’s not just the demise of the British political establishment that may be foreseen on the horizon, but the demise of more or less every political establishment everywhere, in a sort of global implosion in which all political establishments sink out of sight as their support evaporates.

What they will be replaced by, I do not know. We look like we’re in for a bumpy ride.

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Identity Politics

Various things that caught my eye. Via EUreferendum, Christopher Booker:

But, as ever more people seem to recognise, the most damaging price we pay for the BBC’s near-monopoly of the airwaves is the way it imposes on our national culture its own, only too recognisable view of the world: its own narrow, one-sided, left-of-centre form of groupthink.

On pretty well every issue of the day, the BBC has its “party line”, dictating what can and cannot be said, who it invites on and who it excludes: from the EU and global warming to gay marriage; from wind farms to government “cuts”; from Israel to fracking.

This is to the point where too many of its programmes are little more than propaganda, put over by self-regarding presenters who frequently cannot hide their impatience with anyone who doesn’t agree with the groupthink.

I entirely agree. I was watching it last week. And I also agree with what Booker had to say about Ukraine.

As some of us have long been trying to point out, the trigger to this crisis was not President Putin’s attempts to further Russia’s imperial ambitions, but that of the EU to extend its own empire, right into the heart of a region which Russians see, ethnically and politically, as very much their national concern…

For 60 years, the “European Project” has been driven by its ideological belief that the evil of “nationalism” must give way to an undemocratic, unaccountable, “supra-nationalism”. But by pushing its “soft power” right up to Russia’s borders, the EU has finally gone a bridge too far. The lesson it shows no sign of learning is that there is still a real world outside its own little bubble of make-believe, where the sense of national identity and national interest cannot just be steamrollered into oblivion.

And while, in the run-up to the EU elections in May, the mainstream media (and EUreferendum’s Richard North) are trying to bury UKIP and Nigel Farage under a storm of allegations of impropriety of one sort or other, it doesn’t seem to be working:

When other parties become mired in claims of sleaze and financial chicanery it tends to do them harm in opinion polls and elections. That is not, yet, the case when it comes to Ukip. Claims of scandal simply bounce off Nigel Farage. Despite him facing allegations last week that he abused the allowances he receives as a member of the European Parliament, Mr Farage’s party is still riding high, with 27 per cent of those polled by ICM saying they will back Ukip in May. That puts the party ahead of the Conservatives, who are on 22 per cent, and just behind Labour on 30 per cent. The claims about Mr Farage’s office costs were in the news while the latest ICM poll for The Sunday Telegraph was being conducted, but they seem to have had no impact on the party’s popularity.

I think that what we’re seeing is the emergence of a new identity politics. Nigel Farage is One Of Us. He’s a smoker and a drinker, and I’m sure a meat-eater too. And he’s a conservative and a libertarian. And he’s anti-EU, and a climate sceptic. And he wants to restrict immigration. And he lives in a little village in Kent, rather than some metropolis. And he speaks for a lot of excluded and marginalised people who’ll never get a say on the BBC.

Nigel Farage is much more One Of Us than any other politician I can remember. Because they’re invariably One Of Them, and talking down to us. And once he became One Of Us, they could throw all the mud they liked at him, and it would make no difference.

And he’s also a Christian.

“We need a much more muscular defence of our Judaeo-Christian heritage,” he states, adding he only goes to church about four times a year.

“Yes, we’re open to different cultures but we have to defend our values,” he argued.

Perhaps David Cameron is beginning to realise that Farage is tapping into a whole set of traditional values that have been almost completely buried in recent years. And that’s why this Easter he’s also, rather controversially, started to speak up for Christianity:

David Cameron said last week that Britain is a Christian country. In yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, 55 mainly atheist public figures said in a letter that it is not.

Not everyone is persuaded.

Mr Cameron has previously played down his religious faith, saying it fades and reappears “like Magic FM in the Chilterns”.

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Prediction Replaces Reality

In February last year I was a bit shaken that, on the same day that asteroid 2012 DA14 passed about 30,000 km from the Earth, another rock slammed into Russia over Chelyabinsk. It got me wondering whether the two rocks were companions, and there were clouds of rocks through which the Earth periodically passed. I’ve spent much of the last year trying to connect DA14 with the Chelyabinsk meteor, and I’ve very nearly (but not actually) succeeded. And I’ve been wondering if there’s actually a considerable threat to the Earth from clouds of large rocks, with some landing on metropolitan regions.

But nobody is predicting any such event, so nobody is much bothered about it.

H/T MJM, it seems that a few other people are getting a bit concerned.

A press release from some former NASA astronauts on the current asteroid impact threat to earth, based on data on in-atmosphere detonations since 2001, gleaned from a nuclear weapon detonation detection system has yielded some startling numbers.

The threat is 3 to 10 times higher than previously predicted. The data will be presented at the Seattle Flight Museum, Tuesday April 22, at 6:00pm PDT.

Just last night, another fireball was seen over Russia, caught on a dashcamera

Now it becomes apparent why this press release is important.

This Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22, three former NASA astronauts will present new evidence that our planet has experienced many more large-scale asteroid impacts over the past decade than previously thought… three to ten times more, in fact. A new visualization of data from a nuclear weapons warning network, to be unveiled by B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu during the evening event at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, shows that “the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck.”

Since 2001, 26 atomic-bomb-scale explosions have occurred in remote locations around the world, far from populated areas, made evident by a nuclear weapons test warning network. In a recent press release B612 Foundation CEO Ed Lu states:

“This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare—but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. The goal of the B612 Sentinel mission is to find and track asteroids decades before they hit Earth, allowing us to easily deflect them.”

And here, H/T Roobeedoo, is a video of the Russian fireball a few days back:

So bright a fireball that the night sky turned blue.

I think that there’s a much greater threat from these big rocks than there is from global warming or environmental tobacco smoke. Because at the present rate, sooner or later one of these things will come down over some city, and do enormous damage, and kill a lot of people.

And the science is all quite simple and straightforward. It’s simply the laws of motion and gravitation. And it requires the accurate measurement of the position and velocity of rocks in space.

Climate science isn’t simple and straightforward. There are all kinds of climatic processes – like clouds – which aren’t very well understood. And so the science is as much speculative in parts as it is solidly founded in other parts.

And tobacco ‘science’ isn’t science at all, because nothing is measured accurately, and the resulting fuzzy data is then tortured to reach predetermined conclusions.

Celestial mechanics is clean science. This other stuff is all dirty.

Which is also maybe why I like watching snooker (the Snooker World Championships started yesterday), and golf (The US Open Masters was played at Augusta a week back) and even playing online golf (WGT golf is really very realistic, and also free). There’s a purity about both games. They’re both just spherical bodies in motion. They’re celestial mechanics brought down to earth. Golf is just a ball bouncing on the surface of the earth. And snooker is a ball rolling on the flat surface of a table. And the ball either drops into the hole, or it doesn’t, and there isn’t a Statistically Significant Relative Risk of the ball dropping in the hole that gets treated like it’s more important than the guy actually knocking the ball in the hole.

If the US Open golf tournament was run on epidemiological lines, there would masses of data collected on every golfer and all the courses, and it would all be run through a statistical mangle to show that most likely Tiger Woods or somebody would win it. And these predictions would then usurp the place of the actual tournament. Because now that – thanks to statistical science and computer models written by accredited golf scientists – Everybody Knew who was going to win, there was no longer any need for any real golfers to knock balls round an actual golf course. The prediction replaces the reality. People decide whether or not to go to the beach next Tuesday based on the weather forecast for that day, not the actual weather on that day. And once actual reality ceases to matter, and the models are the only things that count, there’s going to be a lot of money riding on those models, and a powerful incentive to ensure that they produce the ‘right’ answers (i.e. Tiger Woods to win, 9 under par).

In fact, Tiger Woods wasn’t playing at Augusta, so he didn’t win. And it was instead won by a guy who’d never had any golf lessons from accredited expert golf scientists, and with a distinctly unorthodox (and therefore incorrect) swing, but who could nevertheless drive the ball 100 yards further than anybody else. And drop it in the actual hole.

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Pushing At An Open Door

H/T Roobeedoo for this piece on Guido Fawkes:

Grassroots Tories Back Farage Over Plain Packs Plan

As polling of Conservative Grassroots tells their party to ditch plain packaging for cigarettes and Farage is making this an issue to smoke out Tories for UKIP:
“We are now on the verge of a Conservative-led government going for plain packaging on cigarettes. I can scarcely believable how stupid these people are. It’s been tried in Australia and it’s been manna from heaven for organised crime and for counterfeiters. It is a daft and stupid thing to do. Frankly, if you’re going to have plain packaging for cigarettes, why not on a bottle of Pernod, or a bottle of beer, or on a Krispy Kreme doughnut? Where does this end? I think the state is really far, far outreaching itself.”

I found this interesting in several ways.

In the first place, although UKIP wants a relaxation of the smoking ban, and Nigel Farage projects a beer-and-cigarette  image, he actually seldom says anything about the smoking ban. So it’s a bit unusual to find him actually addressing the issue, although I’m sure he’s aware that it’s UKIP’s main attraction for some people (like me).

But he seems to be doing so in order to attract Tory grassroots. Are grassroot Tories really up in arms about plain packaging? And if they’re up in arms about that, might they not feel the same about the smoking ban? I’m puzzled.

In fact, I’m always puzzled at how the smoking ban is a non-issue in UK politics. Particularly when I think that it’s about the only issue that really matters.

But then that’s perhaps because all three of the main UK  political parties are agreed that the smoking ban has been a Great Success. And so are the media. And only their voices get heard, of course. Perhaps in large part because Britain’s 10+ million smokers are non-persons who are automatically ignored.

But I think there’s simmering anger over the smoking ban (and all its associated bans, of which plain packaging is just one), and that there’s a lot of political mileage to be made by articulating that anger. I think any political party that does this will attract votes from smokers like me. So why doesn’t UKIP push harder at this open door, and present themselves more aggressively as the party of the old, traditional, friendly, convivial pubs with their tight-knit local communities?

Particularly since (H/T Harley) there’s no real justification for smoking bans anyway.

In a stunning admission, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed to House Science, Space and Technology Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) that the agency neither possesses, nor can produce, all of the scientific data used to justify the rules and regulations they have imposed on Americans via the Clean Air Act. In short, science has been trumped by the radical environmentalist agenda.

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Bastards Fall Out With Bastards

I must say that I was rather pleased that the WHO plans to class e-cigarettes as tobacco products. Because clearly they’re no more tobacco products than pharma companies’ nicotine-containing NRT products (which presumably aren’t going to be also classed as tobacco products). E-cigarettes simply look like cigarettes. And with that, it becomes crystal clear (if it wasn’t crystal clear already) that this has nothing to do with health. They claim to want to get people to quit smoking, but when a product comes along that seems to be very successful at doing that, by providing a cigarette without any smoke, they promptly restrict that too.

But it gets worse better. Over on Dick Puddlecote:

Further to my piece on Monday about the World Health Organisation’s plan to class e-cigs as tobacco products – and consequently subject to crippling taxes, display bans, graphic warnings etc – former ASH supremo Clive Bates has obtained a leaked copy of the minutes which reveal it, and written a comprehensive article on how criminally misguided this approach is.

It emerges that not only tobacco growers are being shut out of the WHO’s consultations, but so also are journalists, and even Interpol. 

And this is even better news, in my view. They’re making enemies of not only smokers and the tobacco industry, but now also the media and the police. I’m hoping that they’ll soon exclude everyone else as well. The more enemies they make for themselves, the better.

Dick Puddlecote also highly recommends Clive Bates’ take-down of the WHO. And there’s even more good news there, because Clive Bates is a former ASH director, and so this is a prominent antismoker doing battle with other prominent antismokers, along the lines of Dr Michael Siegel. What better sight is there to see than the artillery of the enemy bombarding their own trenches?

Might it be worth considering whether Tobacco Control is beginning to disintegrate, as various inherent centrifugal forces pull it apart? For I suppose that, for some of these people, it really was all about health, and they’re appalled that e-cigarettes are are being suppressed. But for other people, it was always about appearances, and anything that looked like a cigarette was as bad as a cigarette. And for other people it was really all about money, and preserving the pharma companies’ NRT monopoly. And for other people it was all about control – the operational word in Tobacco Control. And for other people – the Nazis – it was a piece of eugenic social engineering. They all seem to have managed to bury their differences for the past 50 years, but it seems that is no longer possible. And they’re very capable of doing serious damage to each other, because they know where all the bodies are buried, or – to continue with the analogy of enemy artillery bombarding their own front lines – where the bodies very soon will be buried.

I’m not going to be cheering for any of them. Because I think they’re all bastards, every single one of them. They are, after all, antismokers of one complexion or other, and functionally indistinguishable. And so I’ll be as equally delighted if Michael Siegel manages to land a nuclear bomb on Stanton Glantz as I’ll be glad to see Stanton Glantz land a cruise missile on Michael Siegel. Ideally, they’ll do both of them at the same time, and we’ll be rid of two bastards with one missile.

And I suppose that it’s inevitable that bastards fall out with bastards, because, well,…  that’s what bastards do. Vile people are going to be equally vile to each other as they are vile to everyone else. Just like mafia gangs slaughtering each other, as they fight bloody turf wars in a prohibition era.

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