Trump a Comedian, Labour a Joke

Is it true that there are 16 Republican presidential candidates, and only one Democratic candidate: Hillary Clinton? Camille Paglia in Salon:

“…when we look at the abundance of candidates who have put themselves forward on the GOP side, compared to the complete paralysis of the Democratic party by the Clinton machine, I think you have to be worried about the future of the Democratic party…

Hillary has accomplished nothing substantial in her life. She’s been pushed along, coasting on her husband’s coattails, and every job she’s been given fizzled out into time-serving or overt disaster.  Hillary constantly strikes attitudes and claims she’s “passionate” about this or that, but there’s never any sustained follow-through.  She’s just a classic, corporate exec or bureaucrat type who would prefer to be at her desk behind closed doors, imposing her power schemes on the proletariat.  She has no discernible political skills of any kind, which is why she needs a big, shifting army of consultants, advisors, and toadies to whisper in her ear and write her policy statements.  There’s this ridiculous new theme in the media about people needing to learn who the “real” Hillary Clinton is.  What? Everything they’re saying about what a wonderful person Hillary is in private tells us that she’s not competent or credible as a public figure! A politician, particularly a president, must have a distinct skill or expertise in communicating with the masses.  It’s the absolutely basic requirement for any career in politics.

If you don’t have an effective public persona, if you’re not a good speaker, if you don’t like to press the flesh, if you’re not nimble enough to deal with anything that comes along, then you are not a natural politician!  And you sure aren’t going to learn it in your late 60s!  Get off the stage, and let someone else truly electable on!…

I don’t see Hillary as even getting as far as the debates!  If things continue to trend downward for her, in terms of her favorability and the increasing scandals, then the Democratic establishment will have to take action to avoid a sure GOP win.  Hillary has way too much baggage for a general election–that should have been obvious from the start.  If Vice-President Biden jumps in, that would change everything.  I don’t think Hillary wants to be defeated, so what I’ve been predicting all along is that there will be a “health crisis,” and she will withdraw.  Right now, her campaign is trying to change the headlines by releasing some new policy statement every day, but it’s not going to change the looming investigations into her conduct as Secretary of State.  And of course the GOP is holding back its real anti-Hillary ammunition until she’s the nominee.  Then we’ll all be plunged backward into the endless nightmare of the Clinton years–it will be pure hell!”

And Trump is a comedian:

“So far this year, I’m happy with what Trump has done, because he’s totally blown up the media! All of a sudden, “BOOM!” That lack of caution and shooting from the hip. He’s not a president, of course. He’s not remotely a president. He has no political skills of any kind. He’s simply an American citizen who is creating his own bully pulpit. He speaks in the great populist way, in the slangy vernacular. He takes hits like a comedian–and to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is! Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured–that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said! It’s so startling and entertaining…

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it!  He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way.  But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night.  They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long.  So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls.  He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean.  I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!”

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Dan Hodges:

The Labour party is a joke. We should stop taking it seriously

Blairites for Corbyn are having a big week. Yesterday it was announced that Unison, one of the more moderate unions, was backing the great white bearded hope. Then the bookmaker Paddy Power officially installed him as favourite to win the contest.

“STORMIN’ CORBYN NOW FAVOURITE FOR NEXT LABOUR LEADER”, exclaimed the press release.

Though not everyone was as excited as me. My announcement that I had rejoined Labour enraged some of my new comrades on the Left. Apparently, you can only join up and vote for Jeremy Corbyn if your really, really are Left wing. You have to be pure of mind and spirit to vote for their man. Sorry, our man. Which to me seems a touch factional. But then factionalism is what the Left does. So I forgive you, brothers and sisters.

Some people on the Right were a bit enraged as well. “This isn’t a game,” I was informed haughtily.

No. That’s precisely the point. It is a game….

Labour is preparing to elect Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. And in the entire history of the Labour party, no one has ever played a bigger, or more stupid, or more self-destructive game than that.

As both Labour and Lib Dems implode, David Cameron is, not unreasonably, predicting many more Conservative governments to come. If so, isn’t that a golden opportunity for the party to return to its conservative principles, and dispense with environmentalism and nanny statism and all the other trendy causes to which it has felt necessary to pay lip service over the past decade and more? Or have I asked that question before?

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Smuggling, Youth, Brighton, and Trump

Grandad in Ireland:

Authorities fume: 25% of cigarettes smuggled into Republic

Now I can’t understand why the “authorities” are fuming over this.  Dame Enda is constantly telling us that the backbone of the country’s economy is the indigenous small business so surely he must be delighted?  Here we have an example of entrepreneurs seeing a huge demand for a product and they are merely supplying that product at a price that people can afford.  I say fair play to those entrepreneurs, they’re doing a brilliant job.

The gubmint, far from congratulating them are calling them “organised criminals”.  I find that rich in the extreme.

Let’s look at this so called “crime”.  Is there anyone being harmed by this smuggling?  No.  Obviously it’s an enterprise that people condone, else it wouldn’t exist, so where is the “crime”?  Well, the only thing the gubmint loses is their excise duty, so basically they are just furious that they can’t rip us off because they have been sidelined.

The gubmint considers it is justified in stealing from the customer an exorbitant and disproportionate tax on a product simply because that gubmint disapproves of that product.  They add a massive tax onto that product with no apology and have bragged that they are going to further increase that tax disproportionately.  Furthermore that same gubmint adds more and more taxes to their little revenue stream and if we disapprove and refuse to pay, they have given themselves the ability to dip into our pay packets and pensions and take whatever they feel like.  They take from me whatever they like and I have no chance to protest?  Is that not theft?  Is this not mugging under another name?  Is this not organised crime on a gargantuan scale?

Well, exactly. And as the taxes keep rising, and the incentives for smugglers get bigger and bigger, maybe soon smuggling will account for 50% of Irish consumption. I just wonder how the smuggling is done. Do they bring in container trucks full of cigarettes and hope to not get caught? Or do they land them in dead of night in one of Ireland’s many hidden coves? Or do they fly them in by plane, and drop them by parachute in remote areas? Or, better still, do they load them onto Google drones, and deliver them to the exact address designated? Who knows, it might soon be possible to order online from Bulgaria, and have it air freighted to your doorstep (or your roof) the next morning.

Junican reports from Mallorca on modern youth:

My chief interest, of course, is smoking habits. I saw little change. As many, if not more of them were smoking. They did so blatantly, with no obvious feelings of shame.

I just have a feeling…..

I have a feeling that, unlike us old-timers, they do not give a toss about smoking indoors. I don’t mean that ‘they have come to terms’ with the indoor bans. I mean that they just do not care. In England, the indoor ban has been in operation since 2007, eight years ago. Many of these youths will have been just young teens at that time. They just don’t care about indoor bans. They just don’t go indoors. That particular disco used to be be packed. Now it is half empty, and, as far as I can see, they go inside to dance around for a while and then exit again. They don’t seem to bother drinking inside. They dance around, get a drink and leave to place to sit outside, drinking and smoking. Body-language says a lot – for example, sitting down, getting out a pack of fags and chucking them on the table. That’s what I mean about’no shame’….

Chris Snowdon draws attention to a public consultation on an outdoor smoking ban by Brighton and Hove. Anyone can do it. It doesn’t ask for any address, email or otherwise. Although it does ask whether you think you were assigned the correct sex. I classified myself as male (correctly, I believe), and as a Brighton visitor. And actually, I did once visit the place back in about 1988.

In the USA, Donald Trump seems have thrown a spanner in the works:

The first GOP debate, televised on August 6 on Fox News, is already a total backfire for the establishment. Based on the latest polls, it will likely include every single one of the candidates the Republican elite despises: Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson and Ted Cruz—and banish to the losers’ consolation round exactly the types of candidates the establishment presumably wants to showcase: a female business leader, an Indian-American son of immigrants and the consensus-building governor of the crucial electoral state of Ohio.

The controlled, somber and oh-so-civilized process that the GOP promised its donors is now the biggest free-for-all in American political history. The blame for this, of course, is all being thrown in one direction.

Channeling their best William Shatner, GOP leaders everywhere are clenching their fists, looking skyward, and bellowing, “Trummmmmmp!”

And last but not least Greenpeace co-founder Dr Patrick Moore gives a short talk about the benefits of carbon dioxide:

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Nothing’s Going To Change My World

H/T Chris Snowdon, Clive Bates explaining how Tobacco Control ‘endgame’ strategies won’t work:

Only trouble is that it’s from the Tobacco Harm Reduction folks, and I’ve ceased to believe in Tobacco Harm.

My reasons for ceasing to believe? No reason at all. I never really believed in the first place.

Also today, on Breitbart UK, I came across a new plan to advance climate change awareness:

A new paper on climate change has urged advocates and activists to “develop tailored climate communication strategies for individual nations” – reflecting on the fact that is mainly the world’s wealthier nations who are ‘aware’ of their propaganda, even though they see global warming as less of a threat.

But I think I know what my response to a the “tailored climate communication strategy” for Britain is going to be: I won’t believe it.

My reasons for not believing? No reason at all.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten old and set in my ways, but I find myself more and more disinclined to change my mind about anything. And not just climate and tobacco-related matters.

For example, do you remember when, in 2006, Pluto stopped being the outermost planet in the solar system? Well, I carried on thinking that Pluto was a planet anyway. And it turns out that quite a few other people did too.

Poor old Pluto … isn’t (currently) a planet. But some Harvard scientists say it SHOULD be:

“For one thing, it (the IAU ruling) only applied to planets in our solar system. What about all those exoplanets orbiting other stars? Are they planets?

“And Pluto was booted from the planet club and called a dwarf planet. Is a dwarf planet a small planet? Not according to the IAU. Even though a dwarf fruit tree is still a small fruit tree, and a dwarf hamster is still a small hamster.”

As you can probably tell from the above quote, the HSCFA are not, ahem, over the moon about the fact that Pluto is not a planet.

Just because somebody, some authority, tells me something – anything -, there’s no reason why I have to believe it. And I don’t need to give any reasons why I don’t believe it.

I grew up in a time when Pluto was one of the planets, and I don’t see why I should change my mind. I also grew up in a time when people smoked everywhere, and nobody worried about it at all, and I still don’t worry about it at all. I also grew up in a time when nobody worried about the Earth’s climate, and – guess what – I still don’t worry about the climate. And I grew up in a time when we ate meat and fat and potatoes and salt and sugar and sponge cakes and cream, and nobody worried about any of those things, and I still don’t worry about any of them. And nobody is going to get me to worry.

I was also raised as a Christian – a Roman Catholic -, and in recent years I’ve begun to think that I’ve actually remained a Christian all my life. After all, it wasn’t as if I ever took up a new faith, and started to believe something completely different. And when I set out to think about ethics with Idle Theory, I was very consciously trying to reconstruct a Christian cosmos. Because I’ve really always been a Christian who didn’t understand Christianity.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve changed my mind about anything at all, ever. By the age of 15, maybe even 10, I was set in stone.

The only thing I’ve done is add new things which I had no opinions about beforehand. Idle Theory was a new idea that didn’t contradict any of my old, received, fixed ideas. And if I could use it to think about ethics and economics and biology, it was because nobody had ever taught me any ethics or economics or biology, and there was nothing to contradict. And if I can build orbital simulation models and explore how asteroids behave, that was because I’d never done that before either. In fact, if I could start using computers, it was because they were new once, and I had no fixed ideas about them.

I grew up in a time when smoking was harmless, and the climate wasn’t warming, and the EU hadn’t been invented, and Pluto was a planet, and I still belong to that time, and I always will. And I don’t need to give any reasons for that. It’s just how it is.

And nothing’s going to change my world.

 

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A Donald Trump Primer

These days, the first thing I want to know about anybody is whether they’re antismoking or not. And if they’re antismoking, my opinion of them will start falling, and it’ll carry on falling indefinitely thereafter.

So the first thing I set out to find out about US presidential candidate Donald Trump, currently leading the Republican field, was whether he was an antismoker or not. This is where Hillary Clinton falls down in my estimation (and never gets back up).

First the bad news:

In his book “The America We Deserve,” Trump claims that he’s never tried marijuana. “I’ve never taken drugs of any kind, never had a glass of alcohol. Never had a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee,” he wrote.

Not looking good: he’s a man who doesn’t even drink coffee. Yet it seems that, even though he doesn’t partake himself, he’s not a prohibitionist.

The Donald says if he is elected President he would legalize drugs and use tax revenue to fund drug education.

That’s what I’d do too. But I want to know what his attitude to tobacco is. There are lots of people who’d legalise marijuana, and criminalise tobacco, all in the same breath. Here’s the answer, maybe:

The anti-smoking movement has garnered a religious-like adherence to the belief that government should dictate to businesses whether they can allow smoking, partial-smoking, or no smoking in their establishment.  The anti-smoking movement has sparked a fanaticism in people as anti-smokers harness and abuse the power of government to smokers the ability to patronize pro-smoking establishments.  In this anti-smoking climate, there can be no choice, no freedom, and no civil liberties in public for both smokers and business owners.

The sad part is that a good thing – namely, the promotion of health – is being distorted to create an evil outcome.  In other words, UAW casino labor union, American Cancer Society, and many do-gooders are trampling to the rights of casino owners and patrons in the name of health.  There is more to the health component in this circumstance of government-imposed smoking bans.  There is the question, “will America continue to be a free society, comprised of a free people taking responsibility for their choices?”  in Atlantic City, the answer is most certainly and unfortunately “no.”

Those who seek to impede on the freedom and liberty of all fight tirelessly to achieve their ignoble desire.  Where are the smokers fighting for their right to smoke while they gamble?  Where are the casino owners to defend the right to set their business affairs?  Besides Donald Trump, the casino owners have deserted the cause of fighting for their rights.  They are resigned to the fact that smoking will be banned in their casinos.

So Donald Trump is a casino owner who fights for the right of gamblers to smoke.

Maybe Trump has passed my principal test? But what’s his attraction otherwise?

Enough with politicians
Many Americans have realized that politics has become an ugly game in this country where those who are supposed to represent us aren’t fiduciaries working on our best interests. With that landscape, people are looking for any candidate who can’t be bought off or isn’t beholden to some group or groups because they need the campaign financing. This is part of what Trump symbolizes to them.

Enough with political correctness
Many Americans are also done with political correctness. Virtually anything that you can say or do these days will end up offending someone or some group. The P.C. police seem to think that being offended is some type of civil-right violation, which leads to too many not being willing to say anything at all…
Trump, despite the language in which he often communicates, gets points for not being worried about offending anyone. He says what he thinks — and, apparently, what is on the mind of many — even if it’s done in an inelegant or downright gruff manner. It is the willingness to say things the way that he sees them and not having to caveat, water down or dance around his take that is appealing to many.

Stop being a wussy
People want the type of leader who won’t swap Taliban terrorists for a believed deserter, who will enforce laws already on the books and who will hold the philosophy of “go all in or don’t go in at all.”

Well, I’ve had it with the British and European political class too. They don’t represent me either. And I’ve had it up to here with political correctness as well. And interestingly, although he says he would come down hard on the so-called Islamic State, Trump actually opposed the Iraq war.

On immigration, Trump has been compared with Nigel Farage.  Ann Coulter backs him:  “I love Trump. I love him, and I think he can win.”

Since entering the race, he’d been pummelling lots of people, including George W Bush, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and more. ZeroHedge has the list.

Donald Trump is a multi-billionaire who made most of his money in real estate. He announced his candidature in the middle of June. He’s always been a rather flamboyant self-promoter, and as one of the judges on the Apprentice TV show he became a household name in the USA (if he wan’t one already). The result is that a lot of people don’t take him seriously. Ralph Nader:

This is a teachable moment for the mass media. Failing to take Trump seriously could set a dangerous precedent for future candidates with fresh ideas, looking to shake up the controlling status quo.

The Huffington Post, which carries my column, announced that it is excluding Trump from its political coverage and instead filing all stories about the man leading the Republican field, according to the most recent polls, under entertainment.

If they existed in the 1980s, would they have done this to that B-list actor, Ronald Reagan?

As far as I can see, nobody is taking Trump seriously. Almost everybody assumes that it’s just a stunt he’s pulling to boost his name recognition, and say that he won’t last the race.

And maybe they’re right.

But what if they’re wrong?

I haven’t taken any interest in US politics for 10 years or more. That may start to change. If nothing else, Trump is different. He’s breaking all the rules. And naturally he’s being called a racist and xenophobe.

Here’s Trump’s presidential announcement speech. The bit where he makes supposedly ‘racist’ remarks about Mexicans is at the 8:00 minute mark. I didn’t think they were racist. You judge for yourselves:

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When The Music’s Over

From Jeremy Clarkson:

SheGetsTheBlokes

I was watching Forever Young on BBC iplayer, which was about how many Sixties’ bands and artists were still going strong, and staging comeback tours, even though a lot of them are now aged over 70, when it occurred to me that the simple explanation might be that the period around the 1960s was the very last time that any good music ever got made, and there won’t be any new music at all in the smoke-free, alcohol-free, music-free, vegan, killjoy future. People will carry on secretly listening to ever-more-lo-fi reproductions of the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac, or at least those which the music police will have not yet confiscated and destroyed as ‘unhealthy anti-state influences’. What’s left of the music will become like a bit like the Dead Sea Scrolls, with precious new bits of broken vinyl or CDs occasionally emerging from archaeological digs to reveal fragments from hitherto unknown artists like Martha and the Vandellas, Perry Como, and Spinal Tap. It will become increasingly difficult to distinguish between authentic original music and subsequent inferior forgeries, and it will be the subject of considerable controversy. The canonical list of authentic artists will eventually include the Beatles, Bjorn Again, and Johnny Music, but rigorously exclude Freddie and the Dreamers, the Kinks, and Kate Bush. The last extant example of any 1960s music still in existence – a vinyl 45 of Jim Reeves’ Distant Drums  – will be lost in a Djibouti museum fire in 2377.

And trending on Pointman, ‘It’s probably not a good idea to invest your hard-earned pennies in any company with “solar” in its name.’

The business case for the whole industry was supported by numerous studies by scientists, academia, so-called industry experts and advocates of renewable energy, all of whom said it was the clean and profitable future of energy production. Obviously, all those studies were seriously wrong and ended up costing governments billions. Has anyone got back to these “experts” and asked why the studies and their financial models were all so bad? Given how shoddy their expert advice has proven to be, is anyone asking for the money back, which we paid for this supposed expertise? In the light of how bad expert advice in this area has been, is anyone reviewing advice for similar green sectors, such as wind power? Anyone? Anywhere?

Never in the history of the world, has such an amount of money been wasted, without any trace of financial oversight or accountability. Not only has the money been squandered, but at a time of high unemployment, the fashionable rush to create illusory green jobs, has actually destroyed jobs in the real economy. A study in Spain concluded that for every green job created by their massive renewables investment, the real economy lost 2.2 real jobs and only one in ten of those green jobs created, will be permanent. The much touted transfer of jobs from the real economy to the green economy simply never occurred either. Similar studies in Britain, Canada and Scotland have come back with equally appalling numbers. Spain was one of the early ones to dive head first into the green clean energy dream and now has an unemployment rate of 21%.

Is anyone reviewing advice on Public Health, such as by Tobacco Control? Anyone? Anywhere?

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Not Cultural Change but Cultural Division

H/T Rose, Deborah Arnott a few days ago in New Scientist:

A letter from a non-smoking prisoner with lung cancer, distraught because he was forced to share his cell with smokers, convinced me that smoking in prisons is an issue of human rights. If anything, more so than in public places such as pubs and bars because prisoners have no choice about whether to be there or not.

Rights, I always thought, were what everyone had. But in this case, it seems that only one prisoner has any rights, and the rest can all go hang. Only his grievances matter, and theirs not at all.

If (or as is all too likely, when) smoking is banned in prisons, smoking prisoners will quite simply be forced to give up smoking, because there’ll be nowhere else they can go. And since by Arnott’s own admission, some 80% of prisoners are smokers. that’s going to mean cold turkey for more or less the entire prison population at exactly the same time. I can’t think of a more certain recipe for riots than the imposition of what is in effect a further punishment upon them, over and above that handed down by the courts.

She ends by saying:

The cultural change that has taken place everywhere else in society needs to be extended to prisons so that inmates and staff no longer have to put up with the harm caused by second-hand smoke. After it happens, just as with pubs and bars going smoke-free, we’ll all wonder what the fuss was about.

Genuine cultural change is something that happens gradually over time, as individual people choose to change their beliefs and habits. The imposition of draconian smoking bans, whether in prison or in wider society,  entails overriding individual choice, thus precluding further genuine cultural change. And that will almost certainly mean that people’s beliefs and habits won’t change at all, except to the extent that they have been coerced.

Is it likely that a prison smoking ban will convert prisoners en masse into ex-smokers? I suspect that, most likely, among the first things prisoners will want after their release will be cigarettes, as well as any number of other creature comforts, however long they have been imprisoned. There will be no enduring cultural change at all. The prisoners will remain unreformed.

And the same is true of the wider society. As soon as smoking bans are relaxed (for example, by introducing the smoking rooms proposed by UKIP) the released smokers will head back inside, and light up, just like the released prisoners.

The introduction of smoking rooms (as well as accompanying non-smoking rooms) will also highlight the cultural division between smokers and antismokers that has emerged since the public smoking ban of 2007. Smokers will stick with other smokers, and antismokers will stick with antismokers. For what had once been a unified culture has broken into two separate (and warring) cultures.

For it is not so much that we have witnessed cultural change over the past 8 years, but rather cultural division. If there has been the appearance of cultural change, it is really only because an illusion of universal consent has been contrived – by completely ignoring smokers.

And as the faint voices of ignored and excluded smokers gradually get heard, it will come to seem both unfair and unnecessary to everybody (bar the worst antismoking zealots) that while non-smokers have an abundance of places where they can meet and be made welcome, smokers have none. This inequity has yet to be recognised only because people like Deborah Arnott have been very successful in maintaining the illusion of a cultural solidarity that no longer exists. It will become impossible to paper over the cracks in the culture.

There will then be a dawning realisation that, instead a smooth cultural change having taken place, there has instead been a cultural catastrophe.

 

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Decay

I woke this morning with the thought that Tobacco Control (and Public Health in general) now focuses its attention on trivia. Tobacco and alcohol, sugar and salt, are really utterly trivial concerns. These people are all so very, very small-minded. Last year, the WHO ignored the Ebola epidemic while it had a week-long conference on smoking in Moscow.

It seems to be the outcome of a slow process of decay. Fifty or one hundred years ago, medicine looked set to become a genuine science. But since then it has gradually decayed into superstition and credulity, with tobacco and alcohol being demonised by a new priesthood of witch doctors. The science has gone, and all that’s left is irrational belief in hobgoblins of one sort or other.

Next we’ll probably be told to wear amulets to ward off secondhand tobacco smoke. They’ll be strings of coloured mothballs, manufactured by Big Pharma, and effective for 30 days before needing replacement.

Unfortunately the process of decay seems to be ubiquitous. I read today:

In a 45-minute speech, Obama called for reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum sentences, reviewing the use of the solitary confinement and banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property, among other things.

I’m not an American, but banning of Confederate and Tea Party Flags on public property struck me as being exactly like the exorcism of a smoking ban, and another example of petty, blinkered, spiteful small-mindedness. Banning the Flag of St George would be the English equivalent. What is it supposed to achieve?

Here in Britain, the Labour party seems to be imploding. Their last disastrous leader walked away from the job, and hasn’t been seen since, and they’re now trying to find a new disastrous leader. The current front-runner is a leftie called Jeremy Corbyn, whom all concerned believe will be a truly monumental disaster. So I suppose they’ll elect him.

The Lib-Dems face the same problem. But I’m not even sure if the party still exists.

Not that the Conservatives are any better. The largest idea that David Cameron ever managed to dream up was something called the Big Society, which sounded like it had all of ten minutes of thought devoted to it, and seems to be a variant of Lyndon Johnson’s inclusive-big-tent Great Society. But they obviously couldn’t use that name, so they came up with the Big Society instead. However, since smokers clearly aren’t included in the Big Society, it might better have been called the Fairly Big Society or the Biggish Society. 

The EU also demonstrates the same symptoms of advanced decay. It seemed once to have produced a few statesmen – Jacques Delors, Romano Prodi? – who had real hopes and dreams for Europe. But now the dream has become a nightmare.

Nobody thinks big. Nobody has grand, sweeping visions.

A century ago, Britain had a few philosophers (e.g. Bertrand Russell). I don’t think we’ve got any now. I’m not even sure that we even have any intellectuals either.

But we’ve got hordes of tiny-minded people intent on banning smoking everywhere. And Russell Brand.

The philosophers thought about grand themes like Truth and Reason and Justice. Our modern midgets think about tobacco and alcohol and sugar instead. And carbon dioxide. And in fact, they don’t actually ‘think’ about them at all, but merely peddle scaremongering lies.

The same is true in art. That also exhibits the same symptoms of terminal decline. Nobody knows how to paint or draw. Last I heard, our greatest artists’ best-known works consisted of an unmade bed and a pickled shark.

Next up, economic collapse and social disintegration?

But then, maybe out of the decay there will eventually spring new growth.

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