Regulating The Regulators

H/T Smokingscot, who yesterday drew attention to an interesting piece in Anti-THR Lies by astrophysicist Roberto A Sussman, written in response to a recent editorial – Blog Fog – in Tobacco Control magazine, in which the editors stated that they would not be responding to criticism voiced in external blogs. Any such criticism, they declared, would have to be confined to their Rapid Responses section, and “should be succinctly written without emotive language and be respectful to the authors of the original publication.”

I very much doubt that I am one of the disrespectful external bloggers that they have in mind, if only because I can’t remember any occasion when I have voiced criticism of any particular article in Tobacco Control magazine, for the very simple reason that I don’t read the filthy little magazine. I instead merely restrict myself to regularly calling for the complete destruction of Tobacco Control (by which I mean not only this particular magazine, but the entire global network of antismoking activism, all the way up to the Secretary General of the World Health Organisation), and the transportation of its practitioners to Desolation Island.

What interested me most about Sussman, the astrophysicist, was that his article seemed to maybe herald the arrival of real science – the science of physics – in the vexed debate about tobacco. For I often wonder why such people – real scientists – are almost entirely absent from that debate.

Moderated internet sites (such as the Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL arXiv site) have become a regular and very handy communication channel in physical and mathematical sciences and are fully as serious as journals; researchers can upload material not yet published in a journal (under review), or not intended to be published in a journal, to induce an open discussion of fresh (even controversial or unorthodox) ideas without the constraints of the formal review process. Blogs and Facebook pages exist in all disciplines that serve as useful complementary spaces where research issues can be discussed either informally, or with varying degrees of rigor, mostly involving scientists and graduate students, but also educated non-scientists that may be interested.

So, he was saying that blogs have a place in science, and that Tobacco Control’s exclusion of them was completely unwarranted. In fact, he was utterly scathing of Tobacco Control, which was

“a travesty of a science journal”

publishing

“methodologically deficient articles”

and populated with

“public health researchers involved in tobacco/nicotine research … acting with gross dishonesty”

But he was at pains to distinguish between “scholarly bloggers” and  “cranks and crackpots” in social media. The former were to be listened to, the latter excluded.

These bloggers, as well as most readers commenting on their posts, may be critical but are not on denial of the health risks from smoking, particularly cigarette smoking. As far as I can tell, very few of the bloggers and readers advocate the return to the old days when smoking was almost unregulated and allowed everywhere. Instead, all bloggers and readers express a generalised desire for a more humane regulation of tobacco smoking (and now of vaping), with the right of nonsmokers to smoke-free environments being respected, but also demanding that smokers (and vapers) must be able to enjoy public indoor spaces where they can smoke/vape without being shamed and vilified by “denormalization” policies.

This is the point where I part company with Carl Phillips’ THR, and most likely join the ranks of the “cranks and crackpots”. For I am one of those very few bloggers who does regard smoking as a completely harmless pastime, and who does indeed advocate a return to the good old days when smoking was more or less completely unregulated. I happen to also think, shocking as it may seem, that eating hamburgers and drinking beer are also completely harmless pastimes, which are no more in need of regulation than smoking is. I am sick to death of all these regulators who are forever discovering minuscule amounts of harm in one or other product or pastime, and imposing restrictions and regulations upon them. And THR – Tobacco Harm Reduction – implies that there is indeed harm in tobacco, and that it needs reduction. And so THR also implies regulation, if only “a more humane regulation.” The only real difference between THR and the antismoking extremists in Tobacco Control lies in the degree of regulation that they wish to impose on smoking. And who is to say what is and is not “humane”? Couldn’t Tobacco Control claim that they are already treating smokers perfectly humanely, and have always done so? After all, they don’t throw smokers out of the windows of tall buildings like the Islamic State throws homosexuals. They don’t even wish to completely prohibit the sale of tobacco. How much more humane can you get?

It won’t do. Away with all of them, I say: Carl Phillips must be transported to Desolation Island along with all the rest of the regulators – who will include Michael Siegel and Clive Bates -, aboard the leaking hulk of a rat-infested prison ship.  En route to the island on that slow boat, high status detainees like Margaret Chan and Stanton Glantz and Deborah Arnott and Simon Chapman will be allowed to periodically promenade on the open deck, and even play deck quoits. All the rest must be kept in irons below. The regulators must themselves be regulated. Humanely.

And I wonder whether the attempt by Tobacco Control to simply ignore critical blogs and bloggers is likely to be successful anyway. Would an announcement by the New York Times that it was henceforth going to ignore Twitter, and the “cranks and crackpots” who tweet there, succeed in insulating them effectively from, say, Donald Trump? I doubt it. I’m sure that Tobacco Control ignores me and my blog as much as it possibly can. But will that prevent me exerting any influence? I doubt it.

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About Frank Davis

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30 Responses to Regulating The Regulators

  1. Rose says:

    Roberto S. if it is indeed he, has been posting on blogs for a while now, he posted at Dick’s the other day.
    http://dickpuddlecote.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/the-debate-will-never-be-over.html#disqus_thread

    I had absolutely no idea he was an astrophysicist until I read that post, he’s very easy to talk to and easy to understand. I think you are right, real science has arrived and with it’s sleeves rolled up.

    Dr Siegel is not to be kept in irons in a rat infested ship!
    He has been good enough to allow me a voice on his blog for the best part of 10 years, even though he is the opposition, very different to the Tobacco Control echo chamber.

    • Frank Davis says:

      Oh, OK. He can be allowed up on deck with Debs and Stan.

      And there has been a Roberto posting comments under my blog too. Here, here, and here, for example. And good, solid, thoughtful comments too. In fact, judging by his email address, it is indeed Roberto S. He started posting back in last August.

      How interesting! I didn’t make the connection. Of course it could be a completely different Roberto S, but since he makes some of the same points on Dick Puddlecote’s blog as the Roberto S in the Anti-THR piece, it would seem very likely that they’re one and the same person.

      • Roberto says:

        Hi Frank, indeed, the poster “Roberto S” and Roberto Sussman are the same person. I have posted on various blogs including yours. I am thankful for the opportunity you have afforded me to express my views without censorship and also regard comments you made to my posts as useful and valuable.

        While I respect you stance and we do have agreements on various issues, I think we will have to “agree to disagree” on some points. In particular, it is my opinion that the THR proponents that you mention are not some sort of “light versions” of prohibitionist controllers.

        Yes, some proponents of THR promote e-cigs and snus AND at the same time keep supporting authoritarian abusive regulation on smoking. I strongly disagree with them on this issue, even if supporting their THR efforts. In fact, THR cannot be humane and ethical if it comes with attaching shame and stigma to smokers.

        As somebody who has smoked for over 40 years (vaping for the last year and a half) I still have fond memories on the “good old days” before the 1990’s when smoking was allowed almost everywhere. However, and this is my opinion, I do not believe it is desirable (in the sense of the best possible win-win situation) to go back to those unregulated days. This has nothing to do with the discussion on how harmful smoking may be, it is simply a matter of understanding that we should also acknowledge that indoor smoking can be intrusive and irritant for a lot (not all) of non-smoking folks. As I wrote in one of the posts you mention and link to, most non-smokers are not tobacco controllers or neurotic puritan freaks, and thus their desire for “smoke-free” spaces is legitimate and can be accommodated with our right (as smokers) to enjoy comfortable indoor spaces where we can smoke without being shamed and bullied by the “denormalization” policies.

        Perhaps I should expand on what I meant by a “humane” regulation of tobacco/nicotine usage. It is not endorsing a mild form of the existing “denormalization” (ie smokers treated “humanely” by TC because they are not killed, as is done by ISIS). A humanist regulation does not imply toning down the blind enforcement of prohibitionist “abstinence only” FTCT policies: it implies completely doing away with the part of the regulation that involves “denormalization” and abuse of smokers, replacing it with a set of rules that facilitate civil compromise arrangements to accommodate the needs of non-smokers and smokers. I view this as a win-win situation that is also not utopian, but quite practical. It is a rejection of “denormalization” not a light version of it.

        Finally, we should probably have to agree to disagree on the harms from primary cigarette smoking, but perhaps we should leave this for a future discussion.

        • Rose says:

          Roberto, smoke free rooms were tried back in Clive Bates’ day, but the non-smokers refused to be segregated.
          In both the pubs I used to visit we ended up with one completely empty non-smoking room and everyone crowded into the smoking room. It looked quite ridiculous and was very uncomfortable.

          Letter to The Publican re. protecting employees from passive smoking
          7th June 1999

          Dear Editor

          Re: smoking in pubs

          It is true that the Health and Safety Executive is developing a new Approved Code of Practice to deal with passive smoking in the workplace (Pubs face new smoking bans, Code is a blow, 7th June 1999). All the ACOP will do is provide meaningful guidance on how the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) should be applied to tobacco smoke in the workplace. This law already exists and has no exemptions for the hospitality industry. The ACOP will clarify the law and help publicans comply with it.

          A new ACOP would not mean that all smoking must be banned in pubs. The heart of the law is that employers have an obligation to do what is reasonably practicableto reduce their employees’ exposure. That could include segregation,ventilation, banning smoking at the bar or other measures. It also means the ‘do nothing and ignore it’ approach is not an option. The best approach for any pub is to wholeheartedly embrace the Charter agreed by the Government and trade bodies such as ALMR and BII and to do what is reasonable and practical to protect their employees. That is good professional business, and it should not be a cause for alarm, despair or resistence.

          Yours sincerely,
          Clive Bates
          https://web.archive.org/web/20131228114052/http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/letter-to-the-publican-re-protecting-employees-from-passive-smoking

        • Frank Davis says:

          A humanist regulation does not imply toning down the blind enforcement of prohibitionist “abstinence only” FTCT policies: it implies completely doing away with the part of the regulation that involves “denormalization” and abuse of smokers, replacing it with a set of rules that facilitate civil compromise arrangements to accommodate the needs of non-smokers and smokers. I view this as a win-win situation that is also not utopian, but quite practical. It is a rejection of “denormalization” not a light version of it.

          Well, that may be what you would like to see, but I do not think it is what Tobacco Control would like to see. I don’t think they want any compromise at all. And I don’t think they’re looking for win-win situations either. They’re looking for win-lose situations where non-smokers win everything, and smokers lose everything. For them it’s my way or the highway.

          And it’s Tobacco Control that’s in charge here. Not you. Not me either. I don’t really understand how they came to be in charge, but they are. They asked for complete and comprehensive smoking bans, and they’ve got them, almost everywhere in the world. They asked for plain packaging of tobacco, and they got it. They asked for a tax escalator on tobacco, and they got it. They always get everything they want.

          For, as I see it, TC has no interest whatsoever in either “humanist regulation” or “civil compromise arrangements”, simply because they are neither humanists nor are they compromisers. Nor, for that matter, are they civil. They have set out to make the whole world not only smoke-free, but smoker-free: this is the goal of their global social engineering programme.

          You have encountered this yourself in the Tobacco Control magazine’s editorial in which they make it plain that the “control” bit of their mission is not up for discussion. How they gain control, and when they get control, and by what exact means they gain control, may all be open to debate, but the core mission of “control” is not.

          I don’t think that their global social engineering programme is going to succeed. But that’s another matter.

          indoor smoking can be intrusive and irritant for a lot (not all) of non-smoking folks.

          Such people used not to exist. Where have they suddenly all come from? The answer , I suspect, is that they have been re-programmed by decades of antismoking propaganda into believing that tobacco smoke, even in minute does, is highly toxic. And it’s as a consequence of this that they respond to it now as if it was a poison gas like VX or something. They are behaving as they have been trained to behave. They could equally well have been trained to respond to the odour of, say, frying bacon or newly baked bread in the exact same way. So are we to have “bacon-free” zones? Are we going to have to look for “civil compromises”, and concede that “indoor bacon fumes can be intrusive and irritant for a lot (not all) of non-bacon folks”?

    • Roberto says:

      Hi Rose, thanks for your compliments. I agree with you, Dr Siegel is not part of the TC echo chamber. In fact, in spite of his contradictions and his unfortunate declarations of loyalty to TC (which ostracizes him), his blog provides good value information and is one of the “external” sources that annoys the controllers by pointing out their technical sloppiness and dishonesty.

      • Rose says:

        Hi Roberto, I like posting on the Doctor’s blog because I have to have evidence rather than just say what I think. Not being a scientist it keeps me from flights of fancy.
        Apart from being a keen gardener, I used to be designer many years ago, I think in patterns and those patterns have to repeat perfectly and in all directions.

  2. Vlad says:

    If it is indeed ‘our’ Roberto S, I can recommend him to read Nightlight’s (who’s a theoretical physicist) posts on Longecity forum regarding smoking. The only valid harm reduction measure as I see it is to switch from the prefabricated cigarettes, made nowadays mostly from junk (why that is so is another story) to smoking real tobacco in form of RYO, cigars or pipe.

    • Roberto says:

      Hi Vlad, indeed, I smoked my last cigarettes 25 years ago, switching completely to pipes and cigars. I’ll have a look at the forum you mention.

    • Rose says:

      I fully agree, let’s not forget that in 1975 the National Cancer Advisory Board demanded the reduction of the available niacin and solanesol in cigarettes and even perforated filters in “light” cigarettes to reduce them further (page 4)

      Release Statement on Nicotine and Tar Reduction 1975
      https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/docs/#id=slxm0005

      Cigars, pipes and RYO were not affected.

  3. Lollylulubes says:

    I think the attempt to keep criticism within the bounds of the Tobacco Control “journal” is to stop the editor, Ruth Malone, from tweeting as she’s a bit of a loose cannon and to keep a lid on the bloggers’ criticisms. The latter won’t work, of course. People will use the rapid responses and blog about it.

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with you that smoking is harmless, it does cause harm in my opinion, I just don’t know the truth of to what degree. My friend died a horrible death from emphysema 4 years ago and she just couldn’t quit until her final year when she was permanently on oxygen. Who knows, if we’d known about vaping when it first came on the market here, it might have given her a few more years. There are ethical studies showing that asthmatic smokers who now vape are seeing a reversal in symptoms and cases of COPD are finding improvements. However, I do believe the amount of harms from smoking are exaggerated and I don’t believe that passive smoking is harmful, as per The Air According To OSHA, etc.

    Carl Phillips and Clive Bates and others have always supported THR and they’ve been invaluable in the fight to keep vaping; we need to change misinformed, puritanical, closed, ignorant and funded minds in public health and government and for that we need the help of people with influence. THR has existed for a long time and many smokers and now vapers believe smoking is very harmful and that vaping is orders of magnitude safer. However some believe it’s just as harmful because of misinformation. From what we know of the science, it seems to pose very little risk, which makes it very attractive for those wishing to switch because cessation drugs don’t work or cause suicidal tendencies. There are many of us who see vaping as a safer, pleasurable, recreational consumer alternative, rather than a cessation aid, which were not allowed to claim anyway and we also firmly believe in freedom of choice and truthfully informed choice. When I switched and started intensive researching, I had my eyes opened. Trouble is, not many bother to research and just believe whatever they read in the press. After all who doesn’t trust public health? Me and more and more lately.

    Millions have switched worldwide, so there is a huge market and without all the propaganda, it could well be even bigger. I tried to quit numerous times for years but, the moment I started vaping 4.5 years ago, I switched completely simply because I preferred it with, thankfully, none of the angst or withdrawal symptoms; something that can never be said about NRT. But those who are funded by cigarette taxes, MSA payments, pharma and have pension plans and investments in tobacco shares, want to see complete prohibition of vaping, so we are having to fight the intense propaganda, junk studies and we’re also fighting to keep vaping alive for those who choose or need to switch in the future and potential future smokers who might choose to vape as an alternative instead.

    Public Health have to be seen to be doing something, in order to earn their place at the funding trough, and I think that’s why we’re seeing more and more regulation in all sorts of areas as they scrabble about for ideas. Tobacco Control must be running out of ideas, hence plain packaging, which doesn’t work as people don’t smoke for the packaging and in my opinion their efforts are designed to have as little impact on smoking prevalence as possible. It was stagnant for a decade before vaping really took off. However, everything they do, apart from education, causes harm. If everyone switched to vaping, the massive empire would fall, so they have to protect the money and the scam that is the smoke/quit/smoke cycle. It seems many who genuinely want to see the ‘endgame’ for health reasons, don’t realise that by lobbying for overly strict, burdensome and ridiculously expensive regulations against vaping, they are handing the monopoly to the tobacco companies, who they, supposedly, hate.

    • Vlad says:

      Regarding ##There are ethical studies showing that asthmatic smokers who now vape are seeing a reversal in symptoms and cases of COPD are finding improvements. ##
      Are these randomized studies?

      From what I have read, my impression is that if indeed there’s improvement in switching from smoking to vaping (which is not a 100% irreversible process, many smokers have tried vaping and are either dual users or reverted to smoking) this is due to either one or a combination of these 2 factors: 1. commercial cigarettes that the majority smoke may indeed be a problem
      2. the nocebo effect that the vast majority of smokers are under. Once they switch to vaping, this is gone. Furthermore, the feeling of ‘doing the right thing’, money savings and all that has to have some influence on general well being.

      • Vlad says:

        A test for what I said above is a visit to RYO forums. Many there say they’ve seen improvements in their health after ditching commercial cigs and started to roll their own. It’s a discourse similar to how vapers describe their experience of going from smoking to vaping. The difference is that while RYO users generally believe what they do to be less harmful than commercial cigs (ie they partially shook off the nocebo effect) vapers generally believe vaping to be totally harmless so no nocebo effect.

        • nisakiman says:

          That’s interesting, I never knew that RYO forums even existed! I’ve smoked predominantly RYO most of my life. When I was driving interstate trucks in Aus I smoked Camel plain (five packs a day) just because rolling while driving a high speed behemoth was inconvenient. And for a while when I was living in southern Greece about 20 or more years ago I couldn’t get rolling tobacco, so I smoked a local brand. But apart from that, I’ve been rolling since I was sixteen, more than fifty years ago. I’ve always been of the opinion that RYO is much purer than ready made cigarettes. They’ve been putting garbage in manufactured cigs for years.

          I used to more or less accept the stuff we were told about smoking, but since I’ve actually started to study the subject, I’ve come to the conclusion that 99% of the stuff that TC and their hangers-on disseminate is utter garbage. And the remaining 1% is exaggeration. I don’t believe that vaping is ‘order of magnitudes’ safer. My feeling is that it’s probably just as harmless as smoking, but time will tell on that one. I think your ‘nocebo’ theory is probably correct, Vlad, and is the reason vapers tend to be so evangelical. The guilt has been lifted, and life looks good again.

    • Frank Davis says:

      I’m afraid I can’t agree with you that smoking is harmless,

      And you are perfectly entitled to disagree.

      My own position is always hardening against the antismokers. As I said last week, to Emily Wieja, I think there are some “sciences” – such as Nazi Racial Science – which should be wholly rejected when they are being used for the purpose of justifying the persecution of one social group or other. I’ve never thought it necessary to study Nazi Racial Science in depth before condemning it. And I increasingly feel the same way about Tobacco Control, in which a similar sort of “science” is being used to justify the exclusion and robbery of hundreds of millions of smokers all over the world. Throw it all away! Start all over again! Don’t believe a word of it!

      • Smoking Lamp says:

        I’m with you Frank. There is so much evidence of corruption, manipulating data, and fabricating risk that all of tobacco control’s pronouncements are suspect.

      • Tony says:

        I’m afraid I can’t agree that smoking is harmless. I have looked at the evidence and it seems pretty clear to me that smoking is beneficial. At least for many and probably for most people. Common sense should prevail of course and if someone found it unpleasant then I’d advise them to desist.

        I think it is a great shame that people tend to realise that the anti-smokers have been lying in recent decades but continue to believe what they were saying prior to that. As though they were hugely able and honest researchers who suddenly went wrong. Unfortunately most people’s inclination, at least when younger, is to trust those who claim to be in authority. And smokers made their peace with the issue by accepting that there was a ‘health risk’.

        I did too until the ludicrous exaggeration forced me to examine the evidence more carefully. I eventually concluded that they had always been motivated by ideology and prejudice rather than objective inquiry. It makes perfect sense in hindsight because if they’d been genuine then why would they destroy their own reputations by embracing such obvious nonsense? Whereas if their empire was built on sand to start with they’d have had little option but to keep pressing on.

        One of the oddest phenomenon is the way so many apparently intelligent people talk about education rather than coercion being some kind of good thing.

        The only form of education I could support would be one that clearly laid out the lies and explained how this fraud came about. There again I’m all in favour of rehabilitation so maybe Frank could organise some form of education for his charges on their long ocean voyage.

        • Vlad says:

          Exactly. 2 of the biggest clues that the early antismokers weren’t objective scientists:
          1. Richard Doll glossed over the issue of people who inhaled getting less cancer than non-inhalers in his hospital study. The great Ronald A. Fisher was on his case about this because in the Doctors study there was no question about inhaling
          1.Ernst Wynder with his famous tar painting mice experiment. The concoction he used to induce skin cancer in a few mice bore no resemblance to cigarette smoke. Furthermore, the experiment couldn’t be replicated by others. Nevertheless, this ‘magic act’ came to be known as ‘biological proof’ that smoking causes lung cancer.

        • Rose says:

          Vlad

          I’ve been looking for the reason for the protective effect that Fisher saw in the statistics for a while.
          Theres a lot of interest in the anti-cancer effects of niacin and nicotinamide and as the tobacco companies didn’t publish their results until they were forced to, I don’t think anyone has made the connection.

          To get to 50’s levels of cigarette consumption you have to look at the chainsmoking schizophrenics.

          “It has been suggested that schizophrenic patients are protected against cancer in general and against lung cancer in particular, despite the fact that these patients tend to be heavy smokers. The basis for this suggestion is a number of reports of reduced mortality from cancer and more recent reports of a lower incidence of cancer among schizophrenics than in the general population ”
          http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.161.5.903

          Niacin and Niacinamide In Flue Cured Cigarette Smoke Condensate August 10 1960
          “The susceptibility of mice to lung adenomas, induced by urethran feeding, depends upon the dietary supply of niacin.
          Furthermore, Strain A mice, on a niacin deficient diet, showed a greatly increased incidence of spontaneous lung adenomas; whereas, a supplement of niacin seemed to be protective.”
          https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/docs/#id=trnn0096

          Plus you have the solanesol.

        • TTo get to 50’s levels of cigarette consumption you have to look at the chainsmoking schizophrenics
          Or just email me , with my 60 a day-usually ‘pure tobacco’. :P

        • Rose says:

          OK, I concede, BD, but they haven’t done studies on you as far as I am aware.

        • OK, I concede, BD, but they haven’t done studies on you as far as I am aware.
          I might be persuaded for a small consideration (say a lifetimes supply of filterless Gauloises ) to leave my body to medical science.

    • Roberto says:

      Hi Lollylulubes. I agree with a lot of what you write. Yes, a lot of people who have replaced cigarette smoking with vaping feel better (case in point, my son). But it is important to stress that vaping can be enjoyable in itself REGARDLESS of its utility as a cigarette substitute. A lot of times vaping proponents become so obsessive with stressing this cigarette substitution aspect that they undermine their own case. It is a matter of choice, e-cigs and snus are (besides their potential health benefit) just more options that enhance the enjoyment of nicotine.

      Also, total migration to e-cigs is not a choice for ever smoker. I have been vaping for about a year and a half but have not stopped (and have no plans to stop) smoking my cigars and pipes, while a lot of cigarette smokers will never become vapers (case in point, my wife).

      • while a lot of cigarette smokers will never become vapers (case in point, my wife).
        Indeed. However if someone comes up with a Cig-A-Exactly-Like that not only looks & tastes indistinguishable from a ‘normal’ cigarette AND has a built in automatic ‘timer’ function , ie after releasing the amount of ‘smoke’ a normal cigarette would issue then I, as a proud 60-a-day, might be interested. Then aside from the Vapes I have tried tasting more of arse or mouldy caramel than tobacco I also had trouble knowing when to stop.

  4. smokingscot says:

    O/T

    Seems that in one part of Germany they weren’t that impressed with Martin Schulz or the party he heads.

    Yesterday they saw their percentage share of the vote drop from 30.6 to 29.6% in a regional election.

    The Greens got walloped, not even reaching the 5% threshold to enter the assembly.

    On the other hand AfD saw their share of the vote go up to 6.2%, so securing – for the first time – 3 seats in the assembly.

    And Ms. Merkel’s party, well their percentage went up to 40.7 from 35.2.

    Don’t much care for Schulz (whom we’ve discussed in recent weeks), so pleased the MSM in Germany’s got it wrong (as well as the pollsters). And with PR, AfD is doing so much better than UKIP.

    • “AfD saw their share of the vote go up to 6.2%,”
      Yes they did. Mind you they had been telling anyone stupid enough to listen that they would ‘be clearly into double figures’ *snork*. Confidence and selling the dream are well and good but you can over egg the pudding and them saying that bit of blatant electoral nonsense probably contributed more to the 80something% (yes really, eighty odd percent!) Turn Out than any fear the Saarlanders might have had about ‘red/red’ ie the former communists coalitioning with the socialists (which is the theory the MSM and the CDU like to trumpet at every opportunity). Leader of the former-communists in Saarland is a Herr Oskar Lafontaine and he has massive personal appeal to a great many Saarlanders. Indeed it would be fair to say that the ‘the Leftists’ (Die Linke), the former communists, only have any presence in Saarland at all due to his being so beloved.
      Saarlanders aren’t quite German and the thought of the AfD getting real clout meant that even the most normally-can’t-arsed-to-vote got up off the couch, put some tracksuit bottoms over their boxers, found some flip flops or birkenstocks and went and did their bit to prevent the ‘nazis’ gaining any real clout.

  5. Clicky says:

  6. ” I happen to also think, shocking as it may seem, that eating hamburgers and drinking beer are also completely harmless pastimes,”
    and the cream buns and the chocolate. Don’t forget the cream buns and the chocolate!

  7. jaxthefirst says:

    “I think it is a great shame that people tend to realise that the anti-smokers have been lying in recent decades but continue to believe what they were saying prior to that. As though they were hugely able and honest researchers who suddenly went wrong.”

    Yes, that’s the bit that surprises me. But then again, I sometimes think that the majority of people – including non-smokers – are fully aware that all of the anti-smoking “science” has always been a crock of ***t, but having gone through all the rigours of giving up smoking, or having always been on the “side of the angels” by never having started in the first place, they’re reluctant to speak up and say as much because it lulls them into the (artificial) feeling of security that, as good little obedient serfs, their own current indulgences won’t be targeted. My only fear is that by the time they twig that it doesn’t work like that, and their current “vices” are persecuted every bit as badly cigarettes now are, it’ll be too late for them to backtrack and say “well, actually, we didn’t believe it about smoking, and neither do we believe it about ….” Because by that time they’ll be a minority group too. That’s how it works – first they cut your numbers, then they really go to work on you, with all their figures, carefully harvested from the majority. All the time they continue to agree in principle to all the anti-smoking measures, they don’t have a leg to stand on once they start whinging about their own pleasures being similarly affected. That, after all, is how principles work.

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