Cory Doctorow gleefully passes along some decidedly damaging accounts of sanctimonious corporate malfeasance.
Consumerist’s Laura Northrup rounds up several years’ worth of stories from Apple customers who say they were denied warranty support on their computers because they’d smoked around them. As an annoying ex-smoker, I can sympathize with a tech who doesn’t want to work on a machine that smells like an old ashtray, but that’s what painter’s masks are for—I’ve also serviced machines that reeked of BO and other less savory odors. This just feels like a way to weasel out of doing warranty service and forcing customers to pay for new machines. If the company has a policy of not fixing machines if you smoke near them, it should say so when it sells you the warranty: WARNING: IF YOU LIGHT UP NEAR YOUR LAPTOP, WE WON’T EVER FIX IT, EVEN IF IT IS MATERIALLY DEFECTIVE.
Mrs. Hanson was a pretty, somewhat faded woman of forty, who sold corsets and girdles, travelling out of Chicago. For many years her territory had swung around through Toledo, Lima, Springfield, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Fort Wayne, and her transfer to the Iowa-Kansas-Missouri district was a promotion, for her firm was more strongly entrenched west of the Ohio.
Eastward, she had known her clientele chattily and had often been offered a drink or a cigarette in the buyer’s office after business was concluded. But she soon found that in her new district things were different. Not only was she never asked if she would like to smoke but several times her own inquiry as to whether anyone would mind was answered half apologetically with “It’s not that I mind, but it has a bad influence on the employees.”
“Oh, of course, I understand.”
Smoking meant a lot to her sometimes. She worked very hard and it had some ability to rest and relax her psychologically. She was a widow and she had no close relatives to write to in the evenings, and more than one moving picture a week hurt her eyes, so smoking had come to be an important punctuation mark in the long sentence of a day on the road.
P.J. O’Rourke isn’t fooled. The American elites claim to represent the interests of the poor in order to credential their own class’s power grabs as a worthy cause, but their real attitude toward people who fail to perform satisfactorily in the meritocratic rat race is one of utter contempt and complete intolerance.
[P]oor people don’t have a lot of pleasures. Sure, they have more sex than progressive elites. But somehow, for poor people, the sex always ends up in illegitimate children or HIV or some bum of a boyfriend instead of leading to, as it does for elites, a Reichian release of primordial cosmic energy or the wonderful self-fulfillment and midlife reawakening of a new divorce. And, yes, the poor have drugs and alcohol, but these bring them nothing but grief. They’re not at all like the subtle and refined delights of a 300-bottle wine cellar or the therapeutic relief from Zoloft, Lexapro, Elavil, Ambien, Halcion, Xanax, beta blockers, Levitra, and Cialis.
And poor people do have a lot of troubles. Sometimes, when you’ve got a crap job and are going to get laid off from it besides and your crack-head daughter has three kids by four fathers and your oldest son is on the front in Afghanistan and your youngest son can’t decide which drug crew to join and the cable company has cut off service and somebody’s jimmying the twelfth lock on the sheet-metal door, you’d like to sit down on your own damn chair in your own damn kitchen and have a smoke.
Well, forget it. The progressive elites are already charging you $7 for that pack of king-size filter tips, and pretty soon they’re going to add the price of eviction. Because they hate your guts.
The elites who denounce poverty despise the poor. Their every high-minded, right-thinking “poverty program” proves this detestation—from the bulldozing of vibrant tenement communities to the drug law policing policies that send poor kids to prison and rich kids to rehab to the humiliation of food stamps and free school lunches to the loathsome inner-city public schools where those free lunches are slopped onto cafeteria trays.
Helen Rittlemeyer, evidently the Dorothy Parker of the ultramontane Catholic Right
Not long ago, I came upon an excerpt from Jonah Goldberg’s new anthology Proud to Be Right: Voices of the Next Conservative Generation and quoted and linked the criticisms of the young men of today leveled by a female conservative from Vanderbilt, along with the alternative viewpoint of the Former Chairman of the Party of the Right at Yale.
Just yesterday, another essay from the same collection turned up online.
This defence of smoking from a religious ultra-traditionalist perspective is by Helen Rittlemeyer, another female Sometime Chairman of the Party of the Right, and also requires attention.
[N]othing breeds mutual affection like huddling under a shop overhang in a New Haven sleet storm because Anna Liffey’s won’t let you smoke inside anymore. We smoked on principle. It was reactionary, libertarian, spiritual, and aesthetic all at the same time. Cigarettes Are Sublime, Richard Klein’s tribute to nicotine, was our Bible, because it had sentences like this: “When the religious dignity of smoking is completely obscured, we have lost a right to pray in public.”
That our tobacco habit had something to do with freedom should be obvious. ...
Smoking bans bothered us because they gave the modern cult of health the force of law, which was more than we thought it deserved. The little joys of cigarette smoking—a moment of late-night camaraderie, an excuse to talk to an attractive stranger, just the right prop for an emphatic gesture, or simply a moment of relaxation at the end of a long day—these were all more important to us than health. There was something unappealingly technocratic about the state’s attempt to boil the argument down to heart-disease rates. Unlike the libertarians, we thought smokers should have to make a convincing case that the benefits of smoking in bars outweigh the costs. Unlike the Left, we thought unquantifiables like the way good bourbon mixes with a Marlboro should count.
Ms. Rittlemeyer is becoming famous.
She also made the Daily Caller yesterday when an ex-boy friend delivered an extemporaneous critique of the impact on her social life of her extremist positions on CSPAN.
The Britain at War Experience Museum in Southeast London has hanging over its entrance a 1948 photograph of Winston Churchill opening a new Headquarters for the 615th County of Surrey Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force of which he was commodore. The photograph has been airbrushed to eliminate the cigar Churchill was smoking in the original.
The museum’s management declined to identify the designer of its frontal display and disclaimed any knowledge of what had happened to the cigar.
Japanese intellectual worker’s survival rations: canned coffee and a couple of packs of cigarettes. The pezzonovantes would never let anyone package such hazardous products together in this way in the “mostly free” US of A.
Walter Shapiro finds that Barack Obama’s customarily deft public performance deteriorates markedly when he encounters negative questioning.
(I)n response to the next question – about the potential consequences if Iran continued to suppress demonstrations – Obama said with a sharp edge in his voice, “We don’t know yet how this thing is going to play out. I know everybody here is on a 24-hour news cycle. I’m not. Okay?”
Now I am not going to claim that the First Amendment requires presidents always to wear smiley faces when taking questions from reporters. Nor am I going to deny that occasionally – very occasionally – the short-term mindset of the press pack can be irritating for presidents with a more transcendent view of global events.
Instead, I am bringing this up because I want to tentatively advance a larger theory about the president’s public moods. Obama tends to drop his cool veneer and sound exasperated when he knows that he is in the wrong.
When it comes to Iran, Obama has at times spoken in particularly mealy mouthed fashion because he is fearful (as he has repeatedly explained) that his words could be hijacked by the Iranian theocrats. Even during Tuesday’s press conference, Obama ducked condemning the Iranian election as totally fraudulent by carefully saying, “We didn’t have international observers on the ground. We can’t say definitely what happened at polling places throughout the country.” Obama – who more than most leaders understands the power of inspirational rhetoric – has been forced to keep his most potent weapon (his moral outrage) sheathed through most of the Iranian crisis.
But it was on a far smaller matter (and not one that often comes up during his morning national security briefings) that Obama really put his ire on the fire. What set the president off was a question trying to link Obama’s own smoking history with new legislation giving the FDA the power to regulate nicotine. In response, Obama claimed that the reporter just thought that it was “neat to ask me about my smoking, as opposed to it being relevant to my new law. But that’s fine. I understand. It’s a interesting human—it’s a interesting human-interest story.” (Words alone cannot convey Obama’s mocking tone and his obvious disdain for this “human-interest story.”)
Smoking, of course, is the secret vice that humanizes Obama. He cannot be that perfect – that in control of himself – if he cannot kick his yen to inhale carcinogenic smoke. Obama, in fact, likened himself (maybe a bit melodramatically) to “folks who go to AA.” Small wonder Obama becomes annoyed when he is asked for a monthly update on his cigarette consumption.
The truth is that the Obama White House certainly does not resist human-interest stories when they portray the president in a favorable glow. Obama’s grumpiness about the smoking question was not about an intrusive boxers-or-briefs press corps, but about the president’s own frailties.
Which probably explains why the President preferred, with respect to the sensitive topic of Iran, to answer a previously-arranged softball question from an editor of the Huffington Post.
In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran.
“Nico, I know you and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming out of Iran,” Obama said, addressing Pitney. “I know there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?”
Pitney, as if ignoring what Obama had just said, said: “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”
He then noted that the site had solicited questions from people in the country “who were still courageous enough to be communicating online.”
“Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad, and if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of the — of what the demonstrators there are working towards?”
Reporters typically don’t coordinate their questions for the president before press conferences, so it seemed odd that Obama might have an idea what the question would be. Also, it was a departure from White House protocol by calling on The Huffington Post second, in between the AP and Reuter. ...
The Huffington Post reporter was brought out of lower press by deputy press secretary Josh Earnest and placed just inside the barricade for reporters a few minutes before the start of the press conference.
Steve Chapman, writing in Reason, notes that Congress just proved all over again that our elected representatives never believe in letting the Bill of Rights get in the way of saving Americans from themselves.
(T)he tobacco regulation bill recently passed by Congress indicates that the spirit of liberty is even scarcer than usual in the halls of government.
What motivates advocates of stricter tobacco regulation is the unassailable assurance that they are not only completely right but that their opponents are a) wrong and b) evil. This invigorating certitude makes it possible to justify almost anything that punishes cigarette companies, even if it does no actual good—or does actual harm.
One of the main purposes of the new law is to reduce the number of smokers in the name of improving “public health.” This is a skillful use of language to confuse rather than enlighten.
An individual decision to take up cigarettes is a private event, not a public one, and its health effects are almost entirely confined to the individual making the choice. ...
Cigarette makers are forbidden to use color in ads in any publication whose readership is less than 85 percent adult. They are barred from using music in audio ads. They are not allowed to use pictures in video ads. They may not put product names on race cars, lighters, caps, or T-shirts. From all this, you almost forget the fleeting passage in the Constitution that says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”
When it gets in a mood to regulate, Congress doesn’t like to trouble itself with nuisances like the First Amendment. In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional for Massachusetts to ban outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of any schools and playgrounds. So what does this law do? It bans outdoor ads within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds.
The Court said the Massachusetts law was intolerable because it choked off communication about a legal activity. “In some geographical areas,” complained Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “these regulations would constitute nearly a complete ban on the communication of truthful information about smokeless tobacco and cigars to adult consumers.”
But to anti-smoking zealots, that effect is not a bug but a feature. The only problem they have with imposing “nearly a complete ban” is the “nearly” part.