Reporting The Obvious

I have often stated that I am so old that there weren’t drugs in high school when I was there. Unfortunately the absence of drugs is no longer the norm although our law enforcement is doing a very good job of trying to eliminate the epidemic of drug use that has plagued our schools since the 1970’s. The argument for marijuana since the 1970’s has been that it is less damaging than alcohol and is not addictive. Well, the evidence does not support that idea.

PJ Media posted an article on November 29 with the title, “New Study Provides Further Evidence that Marijuana Is a Gateway Drug.”

The article reports:

A new study looking at alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana use among adolescents gives some interesting and helpful conclusions. Well, helpful conclusions if people will be willing to remove their cultural blinders concerning marijuana. Since the politically and culturally popular thing to do is to extol the virtues of the recreational use of marijuana, the study’s sharp gateway-drug implications will most likely be a warning that is derided and unheeded.

…A negative effect that comes from ingesting marijuana that many users (and non-users) scoff at is the drug’s potential to be a gateway drug. However, the study linked to above concludes, “The implications of the more prominent role of marijuana in the early stages of drug use sequences are important to continue tracking.”

The twenty-year study concluded that while cigarette and alcohol use among adolescents has decreased, marijuana use among adolescents has remained basically the same. What’s interesting is that “the traditional gateway sequence is changing, with marijuana increasingly accounting for the first substance used among adolescents.”

The article concludes:

The bad news for those adolescents who begin with marijuana as well as for those who are in a high-risk group for marijuana use due to their cigarette or alcohol use is that:

Marijuana initiation may also affect subsequent drug use through similar biological mechanisms that have been proposed for other substances; emerging evidence from animal models suggests that THC exposure early in adolescence influences reward sensitivity to other drugs including nicotine ( Dinieri and Hurd, 2012; Panlilio et al., 2013; Pistis et al., 2004), and that adult marijuana use who initiated in adolescence have impairments in memory and prefrontal as well hippocampal volume ( Batalla et al., 2013; Filbey and Yezhuvath, 2013). Existing epidemiological data suggest that marijuana use increases the risk of subsequent cigarette initiation, supporting the hypothesis that marijuana could be causally associated with subsequent polysubstance use ( Nguyen et al., 2018).

Marijuana being a gateway drug has yet to be proven conclusively, but the research points solidly in that direction. Pro-weed advocates need to stop pretending that marijuana is harmless.

I don’t understand why there is a push to legalize marijuana at the same time there are campaigns to end smoking or use of tobacco products. Are we trading one bad health habit for another? If marijuana has legitimate medical uses, it should be used for that purpose, but I see no value at all in legalizing marijuana as a recreational drug. I am simply not convinced that anyone needs to use a recreational drug–particularly one that has a negative impact on the brain and a possible impact on genes.

Troubling Information

On Wednesday, Judicial Watch posted an article about one of the guns used in the Paris terrorist attack. According to law enforcement sources, the gun was illegally purchased in Phoenix, Arizona. The obvious question is how did it get from Phoenix to Paris.

The article reports:

A Report of Investigation (ROI) filed by a case agent in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) tracked the gun used in the Paris attacks to a Phoenix gun owner who sold it illegally, “off book,” Judicial Watch’s law enforcement sources confirm. Federal agents tracing the firearm also found the Phoenix gun owner to be in possession of an unregistered fully automatic weapon, according to law enforcement officials with firsthand knowledge of the investigation.

The investigative follow up of the Paris weapon consisted of tracking a paper trail using a 4473 form, which documents a gun’s ownership history by, among other things, using serial numbers. The Phoenix gun owner that the weapon was traced back to was found to have at least two federal firearms violations—for selling one weapon illegally and possessing an unregistered automatic—but no enforcement or prosecutorial action was taken against the individual. Instead, ATF leaders went out of their way to keep the information under the radar and ensure that the gun owner’s identity was “kept quiet,” according to law enforcement sources involved with the case. “Agents were told, in the process of taking the fully auto, not to anger the seller to prevent him from going public,” a veteran law enforcement official told Judicial Watch.

It’s not clear if the agency, which is responsible for cracking down on the illegal use and trafficking of firearms, did this because the individual was involved in the Fast and Furious gun-running scheme. An ATF spokesman, Corey Ray, at the agency’s Washington D.C. headquarters told Judicial Watch that “no firearms used in the Paris attacks have been traced” by the agency. When asked about the ROI report linking the weapon used in Paris to Phoenix, Ray said “I’m not familiar with the report you’re referencing.” Judicial Watch also tried contacting the Phoenix ATF office, but multiple calls were not returned.

The gun was probably sold as part of ‘Fast and Furious,’ which is troubling enough, but I want to know how you get a gun from Phoenix to Paris in this age of airline security. Was it packed in the person’s checked luggage or did he manage to get it through the metal detectors? Did it go from the United States to France or from Mexico to France? How did the gun get into France, which has very strict gun laws? It would be very interesting to trace the journey of the gun from Phoenix to Paris. It is also interesting to note that this story is based on law enforcement leaks. The people who are charged with enforcing our laws have reached the point where they are so frustrated with the unequal enforcement of the laws that they are speaking out.

Policies Have Consequences

From the beginning of the Obama Administration, one of the goals of the administration has been to remove guns from the hands of ordinary citizens. I don’t believe this goal has ever been stated in those exact words, but if you look at some of the laws attempted and the executive actions taken, that is the goal. One of the early attempts at convincing Americans that guns were really awful was the “Fast and Furious” program. We still don’t have all of the details of the program–there are ongoing legal battles to obtain information about the program, but basically we sold guns to criminals in the hopes that the crimes committed by the people who bought them would sour Americans on the idea of buying or selling guns. The program was discovered and shut down, but the consequences remain.

Fox News posted the following today:

A .50-caliber rifle found at Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s hideout in Mexico was funneled through the gun-smuggling investigation known as Fast and Furious, sources confirmed Tuesday to Fox News.

A .50-caliber is a massive rifle that can stop a car or, as it was intended, take down a helicopter.

After the raid on Jan. 8 in the city of Los Mochis that killed five of his men and wounded one Mexican marine, officials found a number of weapons inside the house where Guzman was staying, including the rifle, officials said.

When agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives checked serial numbers of the eight weapons found in his possession, they found one of the two .50-caliber weapons traced back to the ATF program, sources said.

Federal officials told Fox News they are not sure how many of the weapons seized from Guzman’s house actually originated in the U.S. and where they were purchased, but are investigating.

Out of the roughly 2,000 weapons sold through Fast and Furious, 34 were .50-caliber rifles that can take down a helicopter, according to officials.

If you are unfamiliar with Fast and Furious, please use the search engine on this site to learn about the program. It was one of the nastiest plans of the Obama Administration.

The article at Fox News concludes:

The operation allowed criminals to buy guns in Phoenix-area shops with the intention of tracking them once they made their way into Mexico.

The operation became a major distraction for the Obama administration as Republicans in Congress conducted a series of inquiries into how the Justice Department allowed such an operation to happen.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt after he refused to divulge documents for a congressional investigation into the matter.

This is the third time a weapon from the Fast and Furious program has been found at a high-profile Mexican crime scene. 

Following The Money In San Bernardino

Fox News is reporting today that two weeks before he killed his co-workers, a $28,500 deposit was made into the bank account of the San Bernardino shooter. In the days before the shooting, $10,000 of that money was withdrawn as cash and there were three transfers of $5,000 that appear to be to his mother.

The article reports:

The loan and large cash withdrawal were described to Fox News by the source as “significant evidence of pre-meditation,” and further undercut the premise that an argument at the Christmas party on Dec. 2 led to the shooting. 

Fox News is also told that investigators are exploring whether the $10,000 cash withdrawal was used to reimburse Enrique Marquez, the man who bought the two semiautomatic rifles used in the San Bernardino shootings. Marquez is now reportedly answering investigators’ questions.

“Right now our major concern at the FBI, the ATF, and the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) is determining how those firearms, the rifles in particular, got from Marquez to Farook and to Malik,”  assistant special agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, John D’Angelo, told reporters in California Monday.

At the same news conference,  authorities said the weapons were all legally purchased in California between 2007 and 2012.

The article brings up the issue of whether or not the $10,000 cash withdrawal should have triggered reporting requirements. Deposits over $10,000 need to be reported, but I am not sure about withdrawals.

It is interesting to me that the weapons were said to have been legally purchased before California passed stricter gun control laws. If they were purchased legally before the law was passed, how was the sale of those weapons legal? Who brought the shooter and the person with the guns together?

The fact that the shooter rented the SUV two days before the attack is also an indication that this was a premeditated attack.

The thing we need to remember when dealing with terrorists is that they are not stupid. The people recruiting (not the people who are planning to be killed) understand our laws and know how to get around them. They are also very patient. They are willing to take a year or two to plan an operation before carrying it out. As Americans, we live in a society where the microwave takes too long. We need to understand that protecting our people and preserving our country is going to be a long-term struggle and we need to be prepared for it.

Amoral vs. Immoral

According to the ConstitutionCenter.org:

If there is a lesson in all of this it is that our Constitution is neither a self-actuating nor a self-correcting document. It requires the constant attention and devotion of all citizens. There is a story, often told, that upon exiting the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin was approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created. His answer was: “A republic, if you can keep it.” The brevity of that response should not cause us to under-value its essential meaning: democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.

Somehow we have not done as good a job of keeping our republic as we might have. The recent election was a ray of hope, but we have a long way to go to get back to the government our Founding Fathers envisioned.

Fox News is reporting:

The Justice Department released nearly 65,000 pages of subpoenaed documents related to the DOJ’s botched gunrunning sting, after a federal judge overruled the Obama administration’s decision to withhold the records by invoking executive privilege. The program, which targeted Mexican gun cartels, came under scrutiny after weapons involved in the operation were connected to the killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010.

“Issa and his idiot cronies never gave a damn about this when all that was happening was that thousands of Mexicans were being killed with guns from our country,” Holder wrote to members of his staff in April 2011, after Issa threatened to subpoena a Federal Firearms Licensee witness to testify on the investigation. “All they want to do — in reality — is cripple ATF and suck up to the gun lobby,” he continued, referring to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the branch of the Justice Department that was in charge of the gunrunning operation.

“Politics at its worst — maybe the media will get it,” Holder’s email added.

It is obvious from that statement that Eric Holder did not believe he had done anything wrong. There is no acknowledgement that running guns to Mexico might be illegal or immoral.

According to the dictionary:

amoral – lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something

immoral – not conforming to accepted standards of morality

Somehow we have morphed from the representative republic created by the U.S. Constitution to a country ruled by a bunch of elite political class who can no longer distinguish between right and wrong. If we do not remedy this situation in 2016, we will lose our republic.

Also, please note that the documents released were released on the eve of the election in the hopes that no one would pay attention to them.

 

 

I Think This Is Just Silly

Yesterday WCVB.com in Boston reported that two Beverly High School lacrosse players have been suspended from Saturday’s championship game against Marblehead after a picture of them smoking cigars appeared in the Citizen this week.

The article reports:

WickedLocal reported Friday that John Donovan told The Salem News Friday that his son, midfielder Nick Donovan, and defenseman Dylan Jutras were suspended under Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) rules governing the use of tobacco.

A picture of Donovan, Jutras and two other Beverly High School graduates smoking cigars at the school’s June 1 graduation ceremony appeared in the June 5 edition of the Citizen.

…Students who play for MIAA member schools are forbidden to consume alcohol, tobacco or non-prescribed drugs and can be suspended from 25 percent of remaining regular season games or removed completely from tournament games scheduled at the time of the infraction, according to MIAA spokesperson Paul Wetzel.

The students are over 18 and have graduated. I think this is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Tobacco is not an illegal substance and is not illegal for people over the age of 18. I find it ironic that so much effort is being made to stop people from smoking while at the same time there is so much effort going into legalizing marijuana.

 


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I Have Very Mixed Emotions On This

I don’t smoke. I have never smoked, but I grew up in a blue haze caused by two parents who were heavy smokers. I also lost those two parents to lung problems long before I was ready to give them up. That is why I have very mixed emotions on the story I am about the report.

CNS News reported this week that eighteen California cites and counties have banned smoking in multi-unit housing–condominiums, apartments, etc. So the city, state, or county is now telling you what you are permitted to do in your own home, which you may actually own. What about smokers’ rights as property owners?

The article reports:

Calling it “the next frontier in California’s ongoing efforts to protect its citizens from secondhand smoke,” the American Lung Association’s Center for Tobacco Policy and Organizing compiled a 2011 report on smoke-free housing policies and provided an update that shows 18 cities and counties in the state have banned smoking in multi-unit housing, including apartments and condominiums.

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but I really wonder if this isn’t going too far.

The article further reports:

Some other details in the report include a provision in the city of Belmont’s smoking ban: “For current tenants who smoke, there is a 14 month grace period during which time they are still allowed to smoke in their unit.”

If you have every watched anyone struggle to quit smoking, you know how difficult this will be for many of the current tenants.

Smoking is out of fashion right now. It has been moving in that direction for about twenty years. There was a time when smokers didn’t have to huddle in office or restaurant doorways in order to have a smoke. Again, I hate the smell of cigarette smoke, but this is totally creeping government. If we sit by and watch this happen because we don’t smoke or don’t like the smell of smoke, what will the next target be?

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Taxes Really Do Influence Behavior

Breitbart.com posted an article today about the impact of an upcoming tax increase on cigarettes in Illinois scheduled to take affect later this month. On June 24, the tax on a pack of cigarettes will increase by $1. Some convenience stores are running low on cigarettes because customers who usually come in to buy one carton are currently buying two or three in order to save the $20 or $40 dollars.

The article reports:

As NBC Chicago reports, a Cook County, Illinois, cigarette tax hike earlier this year is to blame for an alleged 15 to 20 percent drop in business at one Illinois tobacco retailer, adding that Indiana sellers could substantially gain from the latest increase:

“After March 1 when Cook County raised their taxes, I lost about–between 15 to 20 percent of my business,” Illinois tobacco shop owner Jawad Muqeet said. “The prices are so high nobody wants to buy cigarettes in downtown”

Indiana tobacco sellers could gain from the this increase. Hammond smoke shop owner Roni Patel says a carton of Marlboro cigarettes costs $56 on average in Indiana, compared to $50 in Will County, Illinois. He says the average price per carton in Will County will raise to $61 following the tax increase, expected to go into effect June 24.

Behavior that is heavily taxed decreases; behavior that is subsidized increases.

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If The Stuff Is That Awful, Just Make It Illegal

Broadleaf tobacco inspected in Chatham, Virgin...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the U.K. Guardian posted a story stating that the British Medical Association (BMA) is urging lawmakers to extend the ban on smoking in public places introduced in 2007 to all vehicles in a further effort to protect people’s health. I am not a smoker. I truly hate the smell of cigarette smoke. However, this is ridiculous.

The article reports:

The all-party parliamentary group on smoking and health is calling for ministers to hold a public consultation on how to tackle smoking in cars. While opinion polls show widespread support for banning smoking in cars carrying children, such a step would be hard to enforce and would not protect adults, the MPs and peers say.

The British Lung Foundation said it would support such a ban because children “are literally trapped in the car and have no choice but to breathe in smoke”.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health also backs more limited action.

I realize this is occurring in Britain, not in America, but I have no doubt it is headed here. Meanwhile, I believe Congress is still paying subsidies to tobacco farmers and the federal and state governments make more money on the sale of a pack of cigarettes than the manufacturers. If tobacco is that bad, make it illegal. Pay the tobacco farmers a small amount of money to convert to growing grapes for wine or some other cash crop and simply put the industry out of business. Then explain to the taxpayers why their state and federal taxes went up due to lost revenue.

The way the government (in Britain and the United States) has handled the tobacco industry is schizophrenic.

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