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Clinton and Lynch—Corruption, Not ‘Optics’: New at Reason

Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton, whose wife, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is under FBI investigation. No big deal, right?

David Harsanyi writes:

David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political advisor, tweeted: “I take (Loretta Lynch) & (Bill Clinton) at their word that their convo in Phoenix didn’t touch on probe. But foolish to create such optics.” And it’s Axelrod’s prerogative to take the two at their word. “All I can say is Loretta Lynch is one of the most outstanding human beings I’ve ever known,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters. “Her ethics are above reproach. No one could ever question her strong feelings about the rule of law, and her ethics are the best.” Sen. Chuck Schumer added: “So, you have two choices, to say this didn’t matter, or she is lying. I think it didn’t matter.”

Lynch might be Mother Teresa for all we know, but we still have ethical codes for a reason. Any truly impartial attorney general would have said to the former president, “Why don’t we table this meeting until after the high-profile, politically charged criminal investigation of your wife is over.” Would that really have been so difficult?

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War on Vaping an Effort To Prop up Tobacco Taxes: New at Reason

It’s not just puritanism that animates progressives’ opposition to vaping, it’s also the love of taxes.

Steven Greenhut writes:

Taking dollars from government agencies and government-addicted nonprofits makes them as grumpy as taking the last pack of cigarettes from a habitual smoker. Even though the state passed several new laws—raising the smoking age to 21 and regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco, for instance—anti-tobacco activists have qualified an initiative for the November ballot that would go even further. The “California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act of 2016” is, as its name suggests, all about hiking tax rates.

California has one of the nation’s lower tobacco taxes. The initiative provides a $2 per pack tax boost on cigarettes (from 87 cents to $2.87). It raises taxes on other tobacco products by an equivalent amount. I’m no fan of tax increases. And sin taxes are regressive—they impose a particularly high burden on the poor. But at least advocates are trying to do something that might improve public health by discouraging the use of a dangerous product.

But this line in the initiative suggests the anti-vaping craze is mainly about the money: “Tobacco products also shall include electronic cigarettes.” To be clear, the liquid that is heated and “vaped” is not tobacco, even though most—but not all—liquids contain nicotine. The nicotine is the point. Smokers are addicted to it. These products provide a safer way to get that fix—95 percent safer, according to Public Health England. If the initiative passes, the state will have another way to get its fix of taxes. In fact, the measure would boost taxes on vaping products by 320 percent, according to industry estimates.

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Brickbat: Thanks for Your Help

When Derrick Deanda spotted a family trapped in an overturned SUV in California, he stopped his own vehicle, got out, smashed a window on the SUV, and helped the occupants out. When paramedics arrived later to check everyone out, they checked …

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Military Transgender Ban Ending, Indiana Abortion Restriction Blocked, Possible House Gun Bill Coming: P.M. Links

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