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RIDGEWOOD – “Locked and loaded” is not the type of verbiage a president should use.
Senator Bob Menendez made that point Monday answering a question about rising tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
President Trump used the “lock and loaded” phrase over the weekend to suggest the U.S. may be ready for military action after an attack on oil refineries in Saudi Arabia. The Trump administration blames Iran, a foe of Saudi Arabia, for the attack, an assertion Iran has denied.
A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez, who spoke after an event on the nation’s burgeoning vaping crisis, added that if the president thinks military action is needed, he should consult with Congress.
There’s also the matter of Saudi Arabia.
While the country is officially an ally of the United States, Menendez said in effect that we have better allies. He noted the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi embassy and the kingdom’s traditional opposition to women’s rights.
Summing up the president’s remarks, Menendez said they displayed a “little bit of a Rambo attitude that is very risky.”
Those comments came at the end of what was a much more bipartisan concern – vaping.
Seemingly overnight, politicians and health professionals are raising red flags over mostly young people vaping, which essentially is using e-cigarettes to inhale often flavored water vapor.
Supporters sell the idea as a way to kick the smoking habit. But critics say vaping itself poses health risks and can be addictive.
Menendez stood on the steps of stately-looking Ridgewood High School surrounded by local pols, faculty and dozens of students to propose a five-step plan to deal with what he sees as a growing problem.
The senator wants a moratorium on the sale of all vaping products until possible health risks are explored. He would appropriate $500 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do such a study and also educate the public about the apparent danger.
He also wants to close a loophole that allows those under 21 to buy vaping products on the Internet and to crackdown on advertising aimed at teens.
Finally, Menendez says he wants to tax vaping products at the same level as traditional tobacco products.
It’s debatable how much of this will happen. Menendez said it could happen quickly, although he said the FDA has been behind the curve on this issue.
The senator didn’t seem impressed by the vaping industry’s contention that vaping is not harmful. He compared that position to the “lying” done over the years by the makers of cigarettes.