Banquo’s Ghost

With a US Presidential election just days away, I ought to be interested in it. In the past, I’ve almost always been more interested in US elections than UK or EU elections. I guess that was probably because I regarded US elections as more important than anything that happens in a little backwater like Britain.

After all, British politics is pretty much defined by its EU membership, and the EU is all about Europe trying to become a major player in global politics – like the USA already is. The EU is trying to catch up with the USA, and become a European version of the USA, with a White House in Brussels, etc, etc.

But this time around I’m just not at all interested in the US Presidential election. Why?

It’s quite simple, really. Barack Obama gave up smoking because his wife demanded it as a price for her continuing political support. In my book, that’s blackmail. And I don’t think much of blackmailers, or people who give in to blackmail. So I’ve thought less of her, and less of him. And he was something of a phenomenon when he first got elected. But now he seems to be a shadow of what he was back then. I don’t know why. But with an antismoking wife, and an antismoking Secretary of State in the form of Hillary Clinton, he’s surrounded by antismokers. Maybe they’ve been slowly killing him.

And Mitt Romney isn’t much different. As governor of some state (Connecticut?), it seems he signed a smoking ban into law.

Even Ron Paul was no friend of smokers, it seems.

The only candidate that I liked was Herman Cain.

But the loss of interest isn’t just in US politics, but in pretty much all politics. David Cameron and Nick Clegg in Britain were both smokers, but both seem to have gone and done an Obama, perhaps under pressure from their wives. And although I don’t know for sure where Ed Miliband is on smoking and smoking bans, I’m prepared to bet that he doesn’t smoke, and that he supports smoking bans.

The only shining example of a smoking politician who’s openly against smoking bans is Nigel Farage. He even went to Stony Stratford to sit on a bench and smoke a cigarette. And he came to the meeting there we had a week or so later, and spoke to us. I saw him standing on the pavement outside the pub afterwards, yards away from me talking to someone, and I felt like going over and shaking his hand. But I didn’t.

And of course all the EU politicians are antismoking (although I’m sure that there are Farages in every country in the EU). And the EU parliament voted a few years back for a Europe-wide smoking ban, with show trials for prominent dissidents – something that killed any enthusiasm I might have had for the EU.

These days, I measure everybody according to whether they’re pro or anti smoking. It’s the only thing that matters any more.

And none of these antismoking politicians represents me. And none of them ever can or ever will. There’s (almost) nobody worth voting for in the UK, or the EU, or the USA. And I’ve ceased to be interested in what any of them say, or what any of them do. I detest them all.

And it’s why I’m glad I don’t have a TV, so I don’t have to see or hear any of the bastards.

I don’t know whether this response of mine is at all representative of smokers. There wasn’t a political question in the ISIS survey. But there was one about “experts”, and at least in my personal survey, there was a remarkable collapse in confidence in them. So I’d expect that there’s also been a collapse in confidence in politicians.

Smokers have been air-brushed out of political life more or less everywhere in the world. They’ve become non-persons whose interests don’t matter. They exist only to be castigated and demonised, and punitively taxed. They have become ghosts.

But as I was writing last night, there are one heck of a lot of them on this planet. Over a billion. That’s one hell of a lot of people to completely write off.

I think it’s all going to come back one day to haunt the global political class. Perhaps a bit like the murdered Banquo’s ghost in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Particularly if all those millions of exiled people come back one day as a global political movement of the kind that I was talking about last night.

Because I think they will come back. Or, like Banquo, their descendants will.

Anyway, next week somebody or other will win the US presidential election, and I don’t really care who it is, because it’s not going to make any difference to me. As far as I can see, it will business as usual, whoever wins.

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37 Responses to Banquo’s Ghost

  1. XX I’ve almost always been more interested in US elections than UK or EU elections.XX

    “EU elections”????????

    Sorry pal, but you had better give up the booze…

    ONLY in Britain do you even know, without TOO much research who your bloody MEP IS.

    And “vote”?

    In nearly 20 years here, I have NEVER had a “polling card” for the E.U “Parliament”, nor for their Politbüro (Council). Neither has my misses, nor ANYONE I know. (And AYE, I DO have to take my shoes off to count them! :-)) )

    And, as I say, the situation on mainland Europe is the same all over. From Sweden to Cyprus, and France to Estonia/Lettland.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Why do you think people like Nigel Farage are in the EU parliament?

      Because people like me vote for people like him. It’s our way of protesting..

      • Well good for YOU! But you appear to ignore the main point, which is; Britain is probably the ONLY country “in” Europe that has a bloody CLUE who their MEP even IS!

        As I say, I know NO one that has even recieved a polling card, in nearly 20 years! More importantly THEY do not know anyone either! (And YES I have asked!)

        And NONE of them could even tell you the DECADE that they last heard of an E.U “election”!

        E.U “elections” here are a TOTAL non-event.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Perhaps that’s why there are so many left wing / green MEPs in the EU parliament? Because they’re the only ones who get polling cards in Germany? After all, somebody must be voting for them.

          I’ve been getting EU election polling cards just like I get them for UK parliamentary or local government elections. They seem to be done in exactly the same way, using the same forms, and the same polling stations. It’s just another election.

          And I always vote. And these days I always vote UKIP.

        • I agree! But who, I don’t know.

          I am beginning to wonder if we (read “Government”) are just sending them on a “rota” system, Because none of the people I know can, or will admit to, ever having voted for them.

          And, like I say, to find out WHO your local MEP is, is like trying to fight your way through a maze.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I am beginning to wonder if we (read “Government”) are just sending them on a “rota” system

          It sounds like there might be a bit of a problem with German democracy, the way you talk about it.

          But it might not be very different in the UK. Because to be able to vote in the UK, you have to get yourself on the electoral register, and this entails a tiny bit of work, filling in forms, etc. If you’re not registered, you can’t vote. So I can well imagine that there a lot of people in the UK who’ve never registered and never voted, and who might say exactly what you have been saying about yourself and your friends: they never voted for any of these people, and have never heard of them.

          My own situation is one that encourages such apathy, because I’m now effectively disenfranchised, because nobody in the main parties is standing up for smokers. So I only ever cast a protest vote these days. I vote for Anybody Else but the main parties. It used not to be like that.

          But it means that the only people who vote are those who are in some sense politically aware or active. And they are of course the Left and the Greens (but also dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives). So the parliaments fill up with Lefties and Greens and Ultraconservatives.

        • So. Here is “mine; “Karl-Georg Wellmann (CDU) “.

          NEVER in my whole life ever fucking HEARD of him!

        • XX It sounds like there might be a bit of a problem with German democracy, the way you talk about it. XX

          Ther is a distinct tendency NOT to discuss politics here.

          Probably in-bred. Excepting East Germany, the DDR, we have only had “free” politics since 1949. DDR since 1990.

          Things like the Gestapo or MfS, and the Kaisers “political police” before them, have a tendency to stick in the mind, and stifle any “political discussion.”

  2. cherie79 says:

    I sort of agree with you, since studying US politics to Honours level at Uni I have followed them closely, still do. I was a lifelong political junkie but now? I hardly bother, programmes I would never miss Q Time etc. I rarely watch now. I guess I just feel since they don’t seem to care what I think why bother even listening to them. I have always voted even in the hated EU parliamentary elections but next time, I doubt it. My only concern now is to try, as far as I can, to make sure my family are ok and sod the lot of them.

  3. Frank Davis says:

    since they don’t seem to care what I think why bother even listening to them.


  4. smokervoter says:

    I’ll never forget the quote I read from Nigel Farage when he spoke at Stony Stratford. It went something like we need to tell “these awful people to get off our backs”. I just searched out the exact phrase and all that turned up was the words I’ve got in quotations. It was from a Tea and Cigarettes blog comment put there by — yours truly.

    I wish I could find the full on quote. It says a lot about your nation and your culture that such a noted political figure could say that and “get away with it”. In the USA it would be political suicide. And that is one sad commentary on my country indeed.

    Yes, I’m one helluva political junkie. I probably carry on too much about voting and elections and such. But you’ve got to forgive me, the title bar to my crummy website reads “The politics of smoking. Forging a bloc of voters who love tobacco.”

    It’s kind of my thang.

  5. Walt says:

    Report from NYC: The areas that were supposed to be evacuated were indeed flooded tho it wouldn’t have affected anyone living above, say, the 3rd floor. However, all electric power was cut from the tip of the island (Battery Park City, where one of my cousins lives) to 34th Street. That’s about 3.5 sq miles. The entire facade was blown off a brownstone building and a crane, hanging 70 stories above 57th Street (a main drag) seems to have snapped in two and is dangling dangerously over the street. Shots of at least one subway station show a wet platform overlooking what seems to be a river that once was tracks and it’s said the entire subway and rail system is shot down for an indefinite period and several tunnels (Manhattan is an island) have been flooded and (they say) could take days to pump. Up here, in the East 60s and 4 blocks from the river, we were just fine, tho I hope some of the trees on the block and in the garden made it through the (reportedly) 70 mph winds.

  6. Walt says:

    The election. Okay, I’m a political junkie but even if I weren’t I’d think this particular election is vital. The choice is pretty stark. Collectivism Vs Individualism (in whatever truncated form it can still exist in the Modern World–initial caps for irony). Romney won’t exactly be a libertarian hero, but Obama is a a total out-and-out statist and it seems that on a purely personal level, like many reluctantly-ex smokers, he wants to. or needs to, distance himself from (those classless clueless unhealthy) fiends in as many ways as he can.. And he’s already proven it with legislative moves–taxes, bans, higher mandatory insurance premiums, and gobs of money perpetually granted to TC forces for unbridled propaganda and general interference.. And that doesn’t touch on the rest of his f’d up domestic and foreign policy.

    Completely OT. Apparently New Yorkers did once rebel against anti-smoking dictat, and actually won. In the 17th C:

  7. John Gray says:

    As a doctor by profession, Ron Paul would naturally say that good behaviour in terms of health should be rewarded. However, for reasons of personal liberty, he thinks heroin and other such drugs should be legalised and that he strongly doubts that, as a result of such liberty, lots of people will instantly decide to start using heroin. Hence on the issue of personal freedom his views are consistent.

    Quizzed about the freedom to smoke issue (in one of the video records of his speeches and debates), Paul simply replied in his Texan drawl and with a note of disappointment: “Aww, well, that’s another freedom we’ve given up.”

    Therefore, Paul may not think that smoking is a good idea, as he plainly does not think that using heroin is a good idea, but, nevertheless, his indication was clear – that choosing to smoke is a matter of personal liberty.

    • zobbitbrat says:

      Is this the Ron Paul video?
      Considering he’s a doctor, 56% support from the public health people seems a bit low really.
      Can any of your American readers shed light on what happened to the Ron Paul movement? His speeches were attracting massive crowds, even in Democratic strongholds like California and even when arranged at late notice, and with virtually no MSM exposure. I thought he was on a roll, but then, sometime round June, he just seemed to fade away. I can’t believe that he was bought off. Was he frightened off? There was a lot of speculation at the time about traitors within the Paul camp. It seems so odd that, just as the movement mushroomed, he suddenly found retirement more compelling than the Republican nomination.
      Apologies to Frank for using his comment thread in this slightly OT way. But, if the good doctor had won through I’m absolutely certain it would have marked the end of public health tyranny.

      • smokervoter says:

        The frustrated, badgered smoker in me is what’s behind my criticism of Ron Paul. I voted for him in 1988. I voted for him in the primary in 2008 and this year as well. I respect the hell out of the guy. I was torn between him and Fred Thompson in 2008. When Thompson dropped out, it was full throttle ahead for Ron Paul

        I don’t see how you can run on a libertarian platform and not stress the unmistakable violation of private property rights of business owners, apartment owners and smokers brought about by the war on tobacco. I kept waiting to hear Ron Paul speak out on issue and it just never came.

        The idea of running for office should include a strategy for winning. There’s a huge untapped reservoir of exiled citizenry (smokers) out there who are looking for some representation. If he had dared to reach out to 440,000 of Iowa’s smokers, even dog whistle style, he’d have won. He ended up just 3,769 votes shy of taking Iowa. I’m convinced that with a follow up strong showing in New Hampshire, he’d have been on a roll. Either it never occurred to him or his campaign organization or his personal occupational biases got in the way, but the bottom line was failure.

        Now to take a stab at zobbitbrat’s question as to what caused Dr. Paul’s rapid fade. His peace platform is a non-starter in America, it cost him the South where lots of smokers and freedom-lovers live. His strongest showings in the South were Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina, where he averaged about 13.3%. And of course the megaphone media completely blacked-out his very existence.

        And thanks MJM, you da’ man my friend. I hope you’re all battened down out there in Philly.

        • smokervoter says:

          Not to gloat but it’s 86 degrees (30 C) and sunny out here in SoCal. It was 70 degrees (21 C) last week and I thought I was going to shiver to death.

        • zobbitbrat says:

          Thanks for that, smokervoter. Funny thing about his peace platform, though, is the support he got from the military vets. Frankly, Romney’s war-hawk rhetoric is bloody scary. You’d have thought the American people are sick of war.

  8. harleyrider1978 says:

    In 2008 the only 2 candidates against a nationwide smoking ban was Ron Paul and Sen. Fred Thompson R-Tenn. Their combined efforts led to an end for a federal government nationwide ban!

  9. prog says:

    Politicians are on a sticky wicket regards smoking, particularly if they want to attain real powers in government. There are a number of considerations….e.g most people, including smokers, believe most of the propaganda and (in theory) might welcome legislation that reduces presumed harm. This is what TC and government would have us believe and in their arrogance assume they can apply similar ‘nudge’ tactics to virtually all citizens. The problem is that the smoker vote has never really been tested. That is, few politicians have been brave enough to go for the smoker vote in national elections. And even Nigel Farage, one of the best we’ve got, couldn’t win a seat in Westminster. Nevertheless, the nanny state must be reined in. Unfortunately, we need more attempts at controlling peoples lives before the electorate say ‘enough is enough’. The drinkers and foodies MUST become real victims of tyranny before people actually begin to demand and vote for common sense. Only then will the monster that has hijacked public health be slain.

  10. harleyrider1978 says:

    Total Insanity

    Smoking can causes asthma in third generation

    Washington, Oct 30 (IANS)
    The dangers of smoking on users and their children are known but new research demonstrates that it also can causes asthma in their grandchildren.

    Asthma is a major public health problem. It is the most common chronic disease of childhood. While there are many factors which contribute to asthma – maternal smoking during pregnancy is a well known, and avoidable, risk.

    During pregnancy nicotine can affect a developing foetus’ lungs, predisposing the infant to childhood asthma.

    Researchers from Harbor-UCLA Medical Centre, California, tested the effect of nicotine exposure during pregnancy on rats, looking not only at their pups but also at second generation pups.

    Exposure inside the uterus resulted in both male and female offspring having reduced lung function consistent with asthma.

    It also impaired lung function of their own offspring, even though the first generation rats were not themselves exposed to nicotine once they were born, according to an UCLA statement.

    Levels of proteins increased by maternal smoking in the lungs of their offspring such as fibronectin, collagen and nicotinic aceylcholine receptors, were also found to be raised in the grandchildren.

  11. Jonathan Bagley says:

    Never forget the smoking room built for the G20, or was it G7, meeting at Canary wharf. The Daily Mail mysteriously removed its account from the website, but I’ve used the WayBack machine to save it for posterity. Also half marks to Nick Clegg, who has recently been reported as smoking a lot more “in private”. I’m guessing his private includes more than residential buildings. Clegg asked for cigarettes as his luxury on his Desert Island Discs appearance. He chose to do that and was obviously making some kind of point.

  12. John Gray says:

    “In 2008 the only 2 candidates against a nationwide smoking ban was Ron Paul and Sen. Fred Thompson R-Tenn. Their combined efforts led to an end for a federal government nationwide ban!”

    I seem to recall something of that Harley.

    Consider too, Paul’s position on property rights. He remarks frequently about violations of property rights and basically his view is that the owner should decide what happens on his own property consistent with the principal of personal liberty (just in case someone thinks that Paul would condone murder if someone decided to kill a person in their own home). Relate that to bar owners deciding to allow people to smoke.

    It was such a momentous shame that the Republican Party heirarchy is so deeply steeped in the ways of the current establishment and so profoundly corrupt as they forwent the opportunity to select Paul as their presidential candidate by rigging so many polls, failing to count precincts and many other dishonest manoeuvres such as the complete farce that was the Convention in Tampa – as those who took the trouble to watch it can testify.

    With regard to Herman Cain, he seems like a nice man, but by comparison with Paul he’s a political pygmy. Ron Paul was the only candidate with the power, determination and experience who would have really striven to put personal liberty at the heart of the political agenda and his views have been consistent for 30 years. Sadly, America blew it and that leaves the rest of us worse off too.

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

    Rand Paul who is my senator and whom Ive met at his eye clinic in bowling green ky is everything his dad is and more. He has more than once stated smoking is up to the individual and the business owner not the government. Thats been printed in many ky news papers over the last 2 years.

    My impression is Rand needs to run for president!

    • smokervoter says:

      You got that right Harley. Rand Paul has a bright political future.

      The Paulites over at that one site who claim he’s a turncoat for endorsing Romney are the same tinfoilers who obsess over GM foods and chemtrails. If they’re hypochondriacal about those two issues, it’s no wonder they line up with anti-smokers. And some of them definitely do.

      • I saw T.V for the first time in months today….yesterday. And Romney wason.

        The first impression I got, even without hearing what he said, was; “This bastard is one dangerous c**t!”

        I dunno, but that was just my first impression. If HE gets to be President, then I thing the whole world is DEEP in the shit.

  14. smokervoter says:

    With one critical week left, I’d like to see Dr. Paul get out to the battleground states of Virginia (40%), New Hampshire (28%), Iowa (26%) and Nevada (19%) where he ran well and at least speak out against Obama’s collectivist, staunchly Healthist regime. He needn’t outright endorse Romney, but simply un-endorse the President.

    That’s it, enough politics out of me for the day. Frank’s right, most of them they don’t listen to us at all.

  15. John Gray says:

    Going back to Ron Paul’s rapid fade, not only was the press rigged against him super big time –
    continually pushing the message that “Ron Paul can’t win”, but as I have already stated, the Republican heirarchy used every trick in the book to screw him. He wasn’t even permitted to address the convention at Tampa and every floor vote was manipulated according to the pre-written script as was made very clear by those news outlets who covered the event honestly (there was plenty on this on YouTube). It was quite clear that on at least two votes the Paulites seemed to have won on the ballot, but the conference controller just read what was on the autocue which, as I have said, was prewritten.

    Coming back to Iowa, smokervoter, did Paul loose it? Do we really know? If I recall correctly, it was stated that after a recount of previously uncounted precincts that Paul had won.

    Maybe you’re right about the peace vote though, although I do recall that was a factor which attracted a number of Democrats to his cause.

    Lastly, I wonder if Paul had had fair media coverage which did not continually try to diminish him, then many more people would have appreciated him positively.

    zobbitbrat, no I hadn’t seen that video, the one I was referring to was on many of the debates Paul had with a large audience. However, I saw so many that I can’t remember which one it was.
    But the video you link is a useful one.

    Ah well, think I’ll probably drop it there, but as you can gather, I am a big Ron Paul fan and as a libertarian I think justifiably so.

  16. harleyrider1978 says:

    The Republican higher elites are almost all RINOS………

  17. jaxthefirst says:

    “These days, I measure everybody according to whether they’re pro or anti smoking. It’s the only thing that matters any more.”

    You and me both. But it isn’t as superficial as it seems as a way of measuring the worth of people. In this day and age a person’s stance on the smoking issue tells you a lot more about them than just their views on tobacco. It’s become a very useful means of sussing out in any social situation who is going to be worth talking to and who is not (and not just about smoking, either). If you want to exchange opinions with another person who will in turn share their own views with you and debate them fully and openly, then choose a pro-smoker every time. If you want to be talked at by someone who’s got all their opinions straight out of the papers, the TV or from “the experts,” and who regards them as gospel facts which cannot – must not – be challenged, and who isn’t the slightest bit interested in what you have to say (even in the unlikely event that you might be agreeing with them), then an anti-smoker should be your choice. I’ve yet to meet an anti-smoker whose opinions on anything struck me as even remotely interesting, different or well thought-out. It isn’t just restricted to whether or not people smoke – there are anti-smoking smokers and pro-smoking non-smokers – it’s all about attitude. And of course, as with anything, there are shades of grey in between – but exactly what shade that will be can be uncannily accurately measured using the pro/anti-smoking “test.” You should give it a try, Frank. It’s actually quite spooky!

  18. Walt says:

    Paul lost because he said things implying — or more than implying– that America brought 9/11 on itself and that Iran should have nuclear weapons if they want them. That kinda goes too far for me. In 08, Fred Thompson was my choice too. He talked a good game but then he didn’t follow through. I also recall he said something (someone here will remember what) about smoking and the MSM pretended to not-get it and simultaneously pretended to be aghast. If we’re ever going to reestablish libertarian values in America, we’ll need a candidate who, like Reagan, believes in “peace through strength” (not peace through indifference), and then is additionally fiscally and constitutionally conservative . Rand Paul could well be it. But I have to hope he doesn’t get the chance to run for President till 2020, meaning I have to hope Romney wins now.

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