The Rise of Mr Beer and Cigarettes

I suppose that, after being in the news for the past 18 months, Donald Trump is going to remain in the news for the next four years or eight years. But he remains a bit of a riddle.

H/T Rhys for this insight:

Mr. Trump said he has never had a drink of alcohol and said he drummed a simple message into his children’s heads at an early age.

“I’d say, ‘No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes,’” he said. “‘No drugs, no alcohol, no cigarettes.’”

I can understand an aversion to alcohol from someone whose older brother died of alcoholism at age 42. I think if I had an older brother who died of alcoholism at age 42, I would have a powerful aversion myself. But I didn’t, and so I don’t.

The puzzle for me is that the alcohol and cigarette -averse Trump seems to have become big buddies with the personification of those things – Mr Beer and Cigarettes himself, Nigel Farage. After all, Nigel Farage has made a career of very publicly drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and being utterly shameless about both. It’s why people like me voted for him: he’s one of us.

For example:

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage is to be a “close but unofficial” advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, the Governor of Mississippi has said.

Speaking at a party thrown for Mr Farage on the top floor of the Hay Adams hotel, Phil Bryant said: “There is an opportunity for him to work directly with the president, we call it ‘close but unofficial’.

“I think you will see that type of relationship between Nigel Farage and the president where he will turn to Nigel for advice about Great Britain.”

The Telegraph quotes Mr Bryant as adding: “I don’t want to speak for the president but I know that the president has a great deal of trust in Nigel Farage, and I think he is going to turn to him as an adviser and there would be none better.”

In fact, Trump has even suggested that Nigel become Britain’s US ambassador – a suggestion flatly rejected by Theresa May.

This raises all sorts of questions about Nigel Farage, who now seems to be in process of re-inventing himself as Mr Brexit, international power broker extraordinaire. It has set me speculating that when Theresa May flies into Washington later this week, and sits down to talk to Donald Trump about Brexit and Europe, she may well find that, occupying a seat next to Trump, as ‘close but unofficial’ advisor, there will be none other than Nigel Farage.

In fact, Nigel Farage may well have already become Britain’s de facto ambassador to the USA, and any ambassador that Theresa May has appointed is now surplus to requirement.

Actually, on further reflection, Nigel Farage may actually be indispensable to Donald Trump, for a very long list of reasons. Firstly, they’re kindred spirits that come from a business culture rather than a political one, and outsiders who have both taken on and defeated an entrenched political class (most likely with Farage helping Trump a little). But secondly, Farage knows everything about UK politics, and he knows all the players inside it. He’s probably met Theresa May a dozen times or more, and can tell Trump what she’s like. But, more than that, Farage knows all about European politics as well, from his experience as an MEP in the European parliament. He knows (and likes) Jean-Claude Juncker, the current President of the European Commission. He probably knows Marine Le Pen and Beppe Grillo too. And Donald Trump has probably never met any of them. Having an insider and a kindred spirit like Farage is a tremendous help for Trump.

On even more reflection, I think Trump probably needs Farage so much that he’s most likely already made him an offer to become his highly-paid advisor with his own office and limo and Washington pied-a-terre. And in this capacity – a sort of Thomas Cromwell for Henry VIII? -, he may become the presidential gatekeeper in all matters of the UK and Europe for the next four years or more, and anyone who wants to see Donald will first have to see Nigel. And that will include Theresa May and Boris Johnson and all the rest of the denizens of the UK parliament. Nigel is set to exert enormous influence on UK politics, and far more than he ever did as leader of UKIP in the European parliament.

ivankaAnd what does it matter to Trump if Nigel smokes? Does it matter to him that Ivanka smokes? H/T Harley for the photo of her at right. She’s another one of his indispensable advisors. And she made the gracious speech that launched his presidential candidacy in June 2015.

…all of which somehow brings me back to Donald’s alcoholic elder brother, and the fact that I’ve never known anybody who was an alcoholic (although I met a recovering one a few years ago). I spent years surrounded by friends who smoked (and who smoked not just tobacco) and drank, and none of them became casualties of either smoking or drinking or any other substance they ingested. In my experience, none of these things ever kill anybody. But most people I knew did everything in moderation. My father smoked and drank, but always in moderation. And most of my friends were the same. They didn’t go on drug or drinking binges, and have to be collected from casualty the next morning, or bailed from police custody. That sort of thing simply didn’t happen.

I suspect that alcoholism is the twin brother of prohibitionism, and both are the products of immoderation. Where prohibitionists rule, bottles and cigarettes get hidden away, so that when people find them they drink and smoke the whole lot in one go – because they have never learned to drink or smoke in moderation. And my guess is that Donald Trump’s mother, who came from the island of Lewis in Scotland, was probably a prohibitionist from one of the ‘dry’ areas of Scotland.  There was a powerful temperance movement in Scotland before WW1, around the time she was born, and which must have influenced her. And the result was that there was no culture or moderate drinking and smoking in the Trump’s New York household, on her strict orders. And that meant that when their eldest son first got hold of a bottle, he partook of it immediately and immoderately, because he didn’t know any better. Just as if, never having been shown how to swim, he drowned on the very first occasion he dived into the sea, killed by his own over-protective parents.

But that’s just a guess.

P.S. On the island of Lewis: There are almost no rural public houses (for the sale of alcohol); instead, local hotels or inns function as meeting, eating and drinking places, often with accommodation provided. Recently, Abhainn Dearg distillery at Carnish, UIg, on the Isle of Lewis is producing Scotch Whisky, the first legal whisky in over 200 years.

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30 Responses to The Rise of Mr Beer and Cigarettes

  1. Furtive Ferret says:

    The thing that you have to remember about Donald is that his opinion on smoking and drinking may be strongly influenced by his mother.

    We know that she was from the Isle of Lewis. What is less well known is that Lewis is a hotbed of Wee Free Presbyterianism who in my experience make the Puritans look like hedonists. I’ve no idea whether she was a Wee Free or not but the probability is high.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Thanks for that. Further investigation has produced Guardian 2002:

      In heathen Britain, where less than 9% of the population are regular churchgoers, the islands are perhaps the last place where the Christian church attempts to control how people run their day-to-day lives. Around 6,500 of the 22,000 people who live on the Presbyterian parts of the Western Isles – Lewis, Harris, and North Uist – actively follow some branch of Free Presbyterianism. For almost two centuries, the Free Churches of Scotland – in their various splintered forms – have held these islands in an unrelenting grip.

      Key to all this has been the Sabbath. Sunday falls on Stornoway like a fire blanket, extinguishing all enterprise and activity not connected to godliness. Drivers looking for petrol will find garages closed; a reader searching for a Sunday paper will have to wait until Monday; a sweet-toothed tourist will be hard pushed to find a chocolate bar. And anyone wanting to get on and off the island – for whatever reason, be it emergency or trivial – will find themselves frustrated: there is no way on or off Lewis on a Sunday.

      Telegraph 2006:

      The central tenet of their faith is the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20.8), which, last weekend, was displayed on posters at the pier in Leverburgh when the ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne risked divine intervention.

      The sternness of some Wee Frees can – in this day and age – be quite eyebrow-raising. When 226,000 people died in the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, the Rev John MacLeod, a 74-year-old hellfire and brimstone Wee Wee Free, compared it to Noah’s flood and said the wave was sent to punish “pleasure seekers from all over the world” who broke the Sabbath.

      He described the natural catastrophe as a “divine visitation that ought to make men tremble the world over”, adding that God was “no idle spectator of what is happening here and He treats men with sharpness and severity in order that they may know their vices.

      From the link in the post:

      Mr MacIver says Mary Anne MacLeod was well-known and much respected in the community and used to attend the church on her visits home.

    • Jay says:

      Ah, yes, the ‘wee Frees’ – they’d regard the dour Presbyterian church of my childhood* as a hotbed of sin; they’re seriously fun-free.

      However: “Abhainn Dearg distillery at Carnish, UIg, on the Isle of Lewis is producing Scotch Whisky, the first legal whisky in over 200 years” which implies, amusingly, a brisk trade in illegal whisky!

      *our church regarded Roman Catholic priests as louche because they got stuck into the booze at weddings – and they smoked (!); our Minister would partake of a small glass of sherry to toast the happy couple, eat the meal (a glass of water) and go.

      • they’re seriously fun-free.
        Faith in which the Bestes Frau In The World was raised, even laughter was a sin….and smoking was a gateway for demonic possession….burning offerings to Satan.

        Jesus wept, pass me the Kool-Aid.

  2. garyk30 says:

    Trump does not accept the silly science about man caused global warming; hopefully, he sees the nonsense about smoking harm for the garbage that it is.

  3. natepickering says:

    I suppose it’s possible that Trump is that rarest of creatures: a committed non-smoker who is not a militant anti-smoker. He certainly doesn’t impress me as someone who would be, generally speaking, inclined to use the organs of government to intimidate and harass people into changing their leisure habits. But I guess we’ll find out in due course.

  4. Frank Davis says:

    Nigel Farage hosting LBC radio show last week:

  5. “Alcohol is your emergency paramedic
    Alcohol is your parachute and your life boat,
    Alcohol is the high wire upon which you stand on,
    Alcohol is the ship you’re going down with,
    Alcohol is the salad dressing of your mind”
    -Herbert Arthur Wiglev Clamor Grönemeyer

    I am an alcoholic (recovering almost 10 years now, thank you for asking) …and trust me, you wouldn’t have been able to bail me out in the morning, they don’t set bail for those sort of crimes, under the influence or not.
    Was it parental prohibition that led me to start drinking aged 8ish? Nope, I just took a sip of Mother’s Ruin out of the drinks cabinet and the rest , as they say…a ‘fixation with a liquid sensation’.

    • Yvonne says:

      My father was an alcoholic and I married someone destined to be an alcoholic. It is often said that being brought up with a alcoholic parent there is a fair chance of being an alcoholic or marrying one; but the statistic in my biological family are against that.
      Fortunately my father became tee-total around 20 years before his death. He often said that because of the distress and destruction that alcohol caused it would be harder for him to take a drink than it was to abstain. My husband has been tee-total for 20 years. Both battled for a long time before sobriety.
      My experience is that not all heavy drinkers become alcoholics, there seems to be a switch or metabolic dysfunction, genes or whatever. I have seen a fair few that could not stop drinking with every help available and died alcoholics.
      I only smoked for a few years and never a heavy smoker but I am a staunch anti-anti-smokers. I hope I am not proved wrong about Pres Trump; I feel that in his business dealings he has had to have manners and put his guests at ease. Yes, he does have an abrupt manner and there are photo’s on the the web making out that Obama has better manners than Trump. I personally think that it is bad manners to make people smoke outside unless there is a good medical reason and same goes to not offer your guests a drink even if you don’t drink yourself.

  6. waltc says:

    Farage has been signed to be a US Fox News correspondent or talking head or something like that which might or not present a perceived conflict of interest in his acting as an advisor. Dunno. Then, too, I wonder if, knowing Trump’s attitude, he “refrains” or “just steps outside” during their meetings or if Trump, knowing Farage’s attitude, offers an ashtray.

    The post yesterday about the White House ban reminded me of the classic photo of Rabin and King Hussein smoking (was it outdoors ?) at the Clinton WH after some arduous negotiations. I think I may have it someplace on my computer and if so, I’ll post it somewhere.

    Not knowing if Trump Pere either smoked or drank or if mom was a Disapprover makes it, among other things, hard to psychologize what the brothers did or why. People who grow up in families with taboos can internalize those taboos or make it a point to violate them. But I also think the reason people smoke and/or drink and either moderately or excessively (or not at all) has to do mainly with individual biochemistry as well as –or even more so–than personality. When society disapproves of your biochemistry, they call it a disease, but it’s not a disease, it’s just…your biochemistry, of which, it seems very little is understood. A friend with a humane GP once told me that instrad of lecturing him to stop smoking, the doctor said to him ” you’re lucky you’ve found your drug.”

    • Frank Davis says:

      it’s just…your biochemistry, of which, it seems very little is understood.

      I’m increasingly of the opinion that, particularly in medicine, we know very little about anything, and that’s probably the main reason for the distinctly medieval or even dark age tint of much of contemporary medicine. It’s the sort of medicine you get when nobody knows much about anything, but everyone’s got their own brand of snake oil, or their own favourite protective amulets.

  7. junican says:

    An interesting question is: “Will Trump bring the tobacco industry back indoors out of the cold?” Having said that, I’m not sure that Tobcoms were every really outside in the USA since it did not ratify the FCTC.
    There is something about TobCon (tobacco control) which has rendered it somewhat weak, despite its apparent power. I am talking about building separate departments all over the place. For example, I have little doubt that Tobcon has its own department in the Health Department, and in CRUK, and the Heart Foundation. It could also have its own dept in the World Bank, IMF, etc.
    The interesting consequence is that those departments have isolated themselves. Given the right frame of mind in people as powerful as Trump, I should imagine that it would be quite easy to sideline them. Let them have their meetings and come up with new tortures for smokers and new laws, but quietly defund them and ignore them.

  8. Pingback: I, Sheeple… – Library of Libraries

  9. James Higham says:

    The Donald understands the people, I think that’s all it comes down to.

    • legiron says:

      I think you’re right. His business background will have involved compromise in negotiations. Politicians just go for control and expect their orders to be obeyed.

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