Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Cigars and politics

The Hill reports: "Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) believes it is his right as a Muslim to be sworn into Congress with the Quran. But apparently, the freshman lawmaker doesn’t believe it’s Rep. Tom Tancredo’s (R-Colo.) right to smoke a cigar in his congressional office.

Ellison’s office called the Capitol Hill Police on Tancredo last Wednesday night as Tancredo was in his office smoking a cigar. The lawmakers have neighboring offices on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building."

We had a couple days of heavy snow. I ended up at the local Starbucks again this morning, perhaps not as early as normal, since classes were cancelled; the whole town seemed shut down. I park, get my grande latte (no additional squirts of taste, whadda ya think I’m a wimp?), go back to my car, light up a stick and read. Lately, it’s been a Carlos Torano--Casa Torano, a fine morning cigar; it’s a soft, almost sweet, creamy smoke, with a nutty touch at the end. I was reading Mansfield’s "Manliness" (I am offering a seminar on it twice a week)--the book nicely balanced on the steering wheel--when a neighbor noticed me. I invited him in, as long as he didn’t mind me smoking. I didn’t think he would since the Torano smells good, even in a tight space. Mind you, the engine is running, roof slightly open--notepad and Yeats and Hemingway on the dashboard (I told you I’m teaching a class on manliness!)--and it’s all kind of cozy, almost like my study, which it is, but this is my car. Cowboys have their horse, smoking professors their car. The guest noticed the, let’s say, informal character of it all and asked me what the hell I was doing. Was I homeless? I told him I’m reading. The short of it is that this is the only place I can smoke now that the people of Ohio in their wisdom have spoken. They have chosen both a Democratic governor and a smoke free state. I shame the devil by speaking the truth, and he allows the foolishness of both choices. I confess to him quietly--in case the engine hum and the snow swirling aren’t enough to drown out my bitching--that he’s right, especially about the latter, a more signficant and lasting act, I assert. We talk a while, I read a few lines from Yeats about how things fall apart and Plato’s ghost and end up with Ann Gregory and why we should love her yellow hair. As he leaves, I turn back to consider why male atheletes spit and women don’t and--as I chew into the sweet end of the stogie--I think about the sea and the old man and what beat him and why sometimes the people nod.

Discussions - 27 Comments

Dr. Schramm: Kindly extend your ruminations.

Peter, I’m teaching a seminar on Manliness this semester too.

Poor guy, you’ve been really victimized there, haven’t you? So, you have to puff on your expensive cigar and overpriced coffee in your own, 3-ton portable study, which you describe as "cozy." Damn the will of the people!!

It does sound cozy. My husband’s car is like an over-sized, over-priced rolling briefcase. Papers, folders, boxes, files, all handy. He’s in that car a good part of every day, and with a cell phone, it’s like an auxiliary office.


Jim, I live even further north in Ohio, and I tell you, it is COLD here. I walked out the back door to fill the bird feeder and sunk to my waist in snow. I nearly had to swim through the stuff, which is light enough because of the cold.


I do not understand the vilification and ostracism of smokers. The will of the people can be mighty over-bearing, and tyrannous, too. We ought to be more careful with our laws against our neighbors. Not everyone has a cozy, commodious car to retreat to.

Jim could use a few lessons on manliness. I’m available to teach it.

I’m sorry Hal, but I prefer the ladies for that sort of thing (I’m heterosexual). What a crazy place to out yourself!

Tancredo for Pres! Hell Yes!

We ought to be more careful with our laws against our neighbors.

I have never understood the argument that no smoking laws are "tyrannous". No one argues other nuisance laws are "tyrannous". If my neighbor plays his stereo very loudly at 3:00 AM, and I resort to the law that restricts noise (by calling the police or suing him) no one calls this "tyrannous". If the state pulls you over and cites you for having an unmuffled vehicle, no one rights blogs about "your right to be loud!".

No smoking laws are immanently conservative. Smoking is a nuance and a proven poison (please no flat earth arguments about tobacco smoke being neutral or healthy). It’s just a bit libertarian to cry "my rights, my rights !"...

No, "tyrannous" is strong for this topic, but I confess to a bugaboo about broad democratic infringements of individual rights.


If my office neighbor smokes his cigar and has his air filters going, ought I call the police? Am I that much more important then he? I keep an ashtray for people to smoke in my house, although no one in my household smokes. It sits in a cupboard until a known smoker is my guest, then it appears. In this case, Christopher, I am shouting not about my rights, but "your rights! your rights!" Well, not yours, but someone else’s.

Smoking is "proven poison"?

RE: The Hill article. Every journalist wants a lede... Ellison does indeed have a constitutional right to take his oath with any holy book, or with none at all. And, according to the reported Capitol rules, Tancredo can smoke in his office. Maybe these guys can work it out without the police.

Of course smoking is unhealthful. Do we need to debate all that again? Kate’s choice is the choice of a gracious hostess. Still, I do not smoke in smokeless homes or in public places where there are bans. As for the bans, they are, in my opinion, good public policy, because they protect nonsmokers - yes, from a nuisance, at least; and they have evidently encouraged people to quit, which is also good because most smokers want to and can stand a push.

Aux armes!!

I cannot wait for bans on perfumes. After all, to many, they are a nuisance.

A nuisance, at least... I suppose to many people the risk of second-hand smoke is like the risk of global warming: worthy of mockery and a badge of manliness (which is silly because such posturing has nothing whatever to do with Mansfield’s argument).

Steve: I am not sure I understand your last post. Are you saying that smoking has nothing to do with manliness? Perhaps it is mocked because it is worthy of mockery.


Do not, say, cigars appeal to the spirited part of the soul?

Erik - (1) yes, that’s what I’m saying. (2) It is not worthy of mockery. (3) Some people say so. People say the damnedest things.

If we are banning things because of a mere nuisance factor, then I would say that’s worthy of mockery. It’s just not a sound basis to craft public policy.

Obviously we do ban some things as mere nuisances. "Negative externalities" and all that. (Gad! I am in favor of zoning, for example.) Or we allow tort recovery. But smoking is, in my opinion, not just any old nuisance and it is more than a nuisance.

Manly? Bourbon is manly! Spittin’ ’n’ scratchin’ is manly! A Colt-45 with a pearl handle is manly!

Physical courage is manly. Moral courage is manly. Smoking is an addictive pleasure that damages the health.

OK, so now we need to ban it because it is more than a nuisance to others. But now you are saying it is a nuisance to ourselves--to those who smoke. So, then, why not zone McDonalds out of cities?


Is all smoking addictive?

This isn’t a question of whether or not smoking is good or bad for people or whether it’s a nuisance or not. I am a non-smoker and I will even admit that, as such, I prefer facilities that prevent smoking. I also believe that it is the right of every business to determine for themselves whether they will allow smoking on their premises or not. Then I, as an educated adult capable of developing my own preferences, can determine whether I want to frequent their establishment or not.

Smoking has been banned in public facilities for years. And I think even smokers can understand that. But to ban smoking in private businesses is ludicrous. Let the businesses decide and, then, let those who do business with them decide whether their choice will affect their decision to do business with them. Furthermore, let the business’ employees decide whether or not they want to work in that type of environment. Forcing these decisions from the top down, like a ban does, is really a silly way to approach the problem.

"I walked out the back door to fill the bird feeder and sunk to my waist in snow"

Why would you fill up a bird feeder in the middle of Winter in Ohio? Wouldn’t all the birds be south, for awhile?

Huh? MANY birds do not migrate south for the winter.

Again...Tancredo for POTUS! Hell yes!

Thank you, Dominick, for being the voice of reason. Why the hell should a man who owns his own business be told it has to be non-smoking (seedy bars in the middle of nowhere come to mind)? And further, why do guys like Chris and Steve act like they can walk into said privately owned establishment and expect the owner and all of his patrons to accomodate them? The public ban was a non-issue for most people I know, but forcing business owners to comply? Come on, guys, you could just go to a non-smoking restaurant/bar, but you’d rather force others to do things your way since you know best (I believe "tyrannous" was the word used above. . .) As an aside, fast food bans will be on the ballot soon.

Funny how the guy who supports cop-killers is the first to call the cops when offended.

"And further, why do guys like Chris and Steve act like they can walk into said privately owned establishment and expect the owner and all of his patrons to accomodate them?"

That’s a particularly weak accusation. When one is NOT smoking, it requires no accommodation on the part of the owner (no need for ashtrays, special air filtration, or the occasional replacement of tablecloths, seat upholstery, toilet paper dispensers (haha), etc. that have been burned by hot ashes, etc.) or the other patrons (non-smokers might occasionally smell bad, but don’t emit smoke which is a known - but avoidable - health hazard, however minor). If you’re breathing in air that just came out of a non-smoker’s lungs, you’re not going to know it (unless, perhaps, they have halitosis, but smokers tend to have that more frequently).

If anything, it’s smokers who expect accomodation, and operate under the assumption that an establishment will provide ashtrays, will overlook the burnholes/marks on the tablecloths, tables, nicely finished bar, etc., that they will filter the air to reduce the haze. It is smokers who assume, and apparently expect, non-smoking patrons to "deal with it" and breathe in the smoke, have the flavor of their food compromised, rub their itchy, burning eyes, etc. Some enterprising mind should have developed a NASA-style "smoker’s helmet" that would allow some fresh air in, but completely contain the smoke inside the smoker’s personal headspace.

Truth is, I’ve several smoking friends, and I’ve been to bars and restaurants with them when they smoked. It could often be irritating, but I’d nearly always just tolerate it with a grin - unless they couldn’t figure out that blowing the smoke towards my nose wasn’t so cool. Since the ban has been enacted where I live, I still go out with those friends - they don’t just sit at home and cry. They don’t seem to be suffering one bit, and one of them did admit that they’ve started to appreciate the flavor of food more now that it’s not always augmented/tainted by the flavor of cigarettes (and cigars).

It would be rather absurd for a non-smoker to ask anyone "Would you mind if I don’t smoke here?"

Craig Scanlon, non-smokers would prefer to be in public places like restaurants where there is no smoke. Before Ohio’s ban on smoking in public places, the owners of such places could choose, for business reasons, to make their establishments non-smoking. That was their right. Is anyone here is saying that we all must accommodate smokers? I do, because I find the person important and the smoke does not bother me. I even like cigar and pipe smoke.


But that’s not the point. The point is the state’s intrusion in this social issue seems wrong, over-bearing and an aspect of the soft democratic tyranny of the nanny-state. Why can’t we let people be on things like this? If a business owner wants to allow smoking, why not? A non-smoker does not have to go to that place. If an employer wished to allow smoking in the office, why not? A person who does not smoke does not have to work there. Prisons, I’ll give you prisons, wherein the incarcerated have no choice, severely reduced rights, and separate facilities for smokers and non-smokers might be inconvenient. Or no smoking in any state owned facility at all. However, anywhere else, why doesn’t the private ownership of a place open to the public allow the owner to set the standard for his own property? He alone will bear the financial or social ramifications of his choice. I still do not see how the state has a compelling interest in this matter.

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