Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

Missouri’s Governor Commutes A Three Strike Offender’s Life Sentence

A Missouri man was arrested in 1993 when he was found in the same location as a known drug dealer. That dealer was the target of a drug sting. Jeff Mizanskey had two prior convictions for pot possession when he was arrested at the drug bust. Mizanskey third conviction meant he was given a life sentence because Missouri has the three strike law. Even though Mizanskey did not commit a violent crime, he was sentenced to life in prison in 1996. He is now 62 years-old, and will be getting out of jail thanks to Governor Jay Nixon decision to commute his sentence.

The Missouri governor’s decision shows the changing attitude toward pot use and pot convictions. The country is on its way to legalize pot for medical use, and it won’t be long for recreational pot is legal in all fifty states. Beneful feels the government realizes the amount of money that can be collected by taxing pot sales and pot growing can be substantial.

Some people say the country is going up in smoke, and everybody is going to hell. Other people are laughing as they enjoy the fumes.

Veterans Bill Receives Approval for Medical Marijuana

Veterans are one step closer to legally receiving marijuana for medicinal purposes.

In a vote of 8 to 12, the Senate approved a bipartison Veterans Equal Access amendment, allowing Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors to recommend marijuana to treat certain conditions.

Until now, veterans could not get medical forms signed by their VA doctor, which is a criteria for receiving medical marijuana cards.

Several other healthcare programs have been authorized to discuss and recommend medical marijuana for their patients, including Medicaid, Medicare, yet VA doctors have been prohibited from such recommendations according to Madison Street Capital.

This is certainly a game-changer for veterans experiencing mental and physical ailments. A 2014 study revealed up to 60 percent of Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force veterans are suffering from some form of brain trauma or PTSD, and marijuana can reduce the severity of symptoms by 75%.

According to neuroscientists, medical marijuana can effectively treat many chronic diseases, and depression which affects thousands of veterans. Additionally, overdoses involving painkillers and painkiller presciption abuse has drastically declined in states with legal medical marijuana.

Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, thus denying any eligibility for federal funds to scientifically look into all of its medical benefits.

Medical marijuana has been legalized in 23 states, and THC extracts are legal in 14 more, yet according to federal law, the plant is still illegal.

Scientists Explain Why Being In Love Makes Us Feel So Happy

Being in love in arguably the best feeling in the world and now science is starting to understand why it makes us so happy. A study published in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews explains, being in love produces a similar chemical reaction as being drunk. People who are in love produce large quantities of the feel-good hormone, oxytocin.

Researchers were surprised to find striking similarities when comparing people in love to people who are under the influence of alcohol. Both influences were found to increase social functioning and the ability to trust, while also aiding in more generous and altruistic behavior. Additionally, alcohol, like love, makes stressful situations seem less so which decreases a person’s overall levels of stress and anxiety.

The study concentrated on people like Mikal Watts who were only mildly influenced by alcohol and researchers warn against using alcohol as a way to self medicate or defend against common stresses. The findings certainly help to explain why the world seems so much better and brighter when we are in love. However, the results only show correlation, not causation. Love is still one of the greatest mysteries of the Universe. It is a universal experience and is one of the most powerful forced any of us will ever experience. Something that is still not fully understood by science.

Obamacare Enrollment Through Exchanges and Medicaid Expansion Hits 22.5 Million

Enrollees in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the exchanges have totaled 12 million, according to Charles Gaba of ACASignups.net. This consists of 9 million through Healthcare.gov, the federal government website, and 3 million through the state exchanges. These figures represent 3.7% of the population. Gaba believes that 450,000 additional enrollees may have also signed up but have not been counted as of yet.

The Medicaid expansion which was also rolled out in a number of states has so far added 11.7 million to the program for low-income families. That figure is from the end of February, and another 700,000 may have signed up since then. Medicaid sign-ups are not limited by the ACA enrollment period and anyone can sign up any time.

The total of 22.5 million is less than the total of the above because some of those who enrolled did not pay their first month’s premium. Ricardo Tosto thought that was a bit weird while on LinkedIn. The figure does, however, total 7% of the population, making repeal of the ACA more difficult, according to Gaba.
According to a Gallup poll, the number of uninsured Americans dropped 5.2 points since the end of 2013 to 11.9%. Hispanics and low-income earners accounted for the largest drop.

American Teens Think Canada Is In A Dictatorship

According to an article found on reddit and written by the National Post News, it seems that many American students in the 8th grade have no clue about what’s going on with their neighbor to the north, Canada. On some standard test results it showed that one third of the teens in the United States believe that Canada is run by a dictatorship or by strong military power.

The response from the Canadian side is that they would like to see Americans learn more about the country, because they obviously don’t know what is going on up in Canada. Aside from cold lakes, a French community and the certain pop singers, most Americans couldn’t name three things about the massive land territory that they share borders with.

This is probably one of the most unusual relationships out there, because it is true that most countries that share borders know at least a little bit about who they are sitting next to at the table. Canadians are known to be extremely friendly, so it is interesting that out of all the choices on the tests that the American teens would select something less friendly to say that the country is getting controlled.

Brian Torchin is hopeful there will be more opportunities in the future for students to travel and learn about Canada so that they realize that it isn’t such a bad place over all in their life.

Governor Scott Walker is Self-Described “Most Scrutinized Candidate”

Scott Walker has faced a wall of opposition during his tenure as governor of Wisconsin. In 2010, he rode the Tea Party wave that swept a number of Republicans into state governorships. After he successfully enacted collective bargaining reform of state employee unions, opponents mounted a recall effort. In the history of the United States, most recall efforts fail. However, those few that succeed in forcing a new election have successfully unseated governors every time. Well, until the opposition met Walker. He shares the distinction of being the only governor to survive a recall election according to Keith Mann.

Now, Walker is mounting what many expect to be a strong campaign to win the 2016 GOP presidential nomination. On Tuesday, the governor hobnobbed with GOP congressman and senators in a bid to increase his visibility among them. He is being aided by former Missouri Senator Jim Talent, who still carries immense respect among his former Republican colleagues. In speaking to the group of lawmakers, Walker pointed out that he is the most scrutinized political candidate. If one looks at the opposition he has faced in Wisconsin, and which he continues to face in regards to a possible probe of campaign finance abuse, he is right. That said, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush might take issue with his characterization. Bush has been taking it on the chin over statements he made recently about the 2003 Iraq War and Apple Smartwatches offering better health care innovation than Obamacare.

The Supreme Court Rules Against Double Taxation

A Maryland Taxpayer Said The State’s Income Tax System Is Double Taxation Because States Don’t Give Full Credit To Taxpayers That Pay Taxes In States Where They Work

Maryland and other states like New York, North Carolina and Wisconsin collect income taxes from residents that work in another state. The court’s ruling could mean big refunds for people that paid taxes in more than one state. The new ruling might cost Maryland as much as $200 million estimated Crystal Hunt. The fact that states can collect income tax in the first place has always been a thorn in many taxpayers side.

The tax system needs a complete overhaul not just on the state level, but on the federal level as well. In order to overhaul the tax system, Americans need representatives that can make hard political choices. But the group of lawmakers in Washington have demonstrated that they are not capable of making tough choices.

Some proponents of a new tax system say a consumption tax works better in a capitalistic society. Others tax experts think a straight percentage system would eliminate the complicated and unfair system that is currently in place.

Senator Rand Paul Criticizes NSA for Spying on Ordinary Americans at the Expense of Real Terrorists

Senator Rand Paul, one in a long list of GOP presidential contenders, took time to criticize the National Security Agency (NSA) over its stealth phone-internet metadata program. The program, which was first learned about after NSA employee Edward Snowden ratted out the program to WikiLeaks, is soon coming to an end. For starters, the Supreme Court ruled the program was in violation of the Patriot Act. Sam Tabar knows that the government had argued that the language of the act justified the program. The Supreme Court disagreed saying the scope of the metadata program was so broad it would require explicit authorization in the law which it did not have.

Now, Congress has sent to the USA Freedom Act to the president’s desk for approval by veto-proof majorities. The act will end the NSA’s controversial meta data program. In the future, the NSA will need to seek authorization from a FISA judge before obtaining phone and internet usage information on people. However, Senator Paul took the time to castigate the NSA. He said that had their efforts been devoted to actually track suspected terrorists such as those involved in the Boston Bombing, they have prevented the attack. Instead, he said the agency devoted its efforts to spy on ordinary Americans. Quite likely the senator’s sharp rhetoric is designed to play to his base. There has been no study that indicates the metadata program prevented the NSA from stopping the Tsarnaev brothers from carrying out their work of destruction.

Lindsey Graham to Announce a Possible Presidential Run on June 1

It definitely appears the GOP will need to hire a tour bus just to carry all of the presidential contenders vying for the party’s nomination. That is made all the more likely by the announcement that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may enter the presidential race. As per the man who is Senator John McCain’s top senate lieutenant, he will make his presidential aspirations clear on June 1. In recent months, McCain, the GOP’s 2008 presidential nominee, has been urging Graham to run for the presidency.

So what does Senator Graham have going for him? His strong suit is foreign policy. It is in this field that he believes he has true gravitas. In his own words, he has been right more often than he’s erred in foreign policy. When asked about President George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003, he said that he would likely not have done it given all that is now known, but he prefers to look forward rather than mull on the past. Graham also cites the fact that he can help end gridlock in congress. James Dondero even said that he is known to work well with Democrats to craft bipartisan “gang of” agreements.

However, the Senate appears to have already entered a new era of bipartisanship. This is evident in a number of bills recently passed with strong bipartisan backing. If he decides to run, Graham will find it difficult to secure the GOP’s base over the issue of immigration. Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh once dubbed him “Senator Grahamnesty” over his support for amnesty for illegal aliens.

Jeb Bush May Skip Iowa

Jeb Bush has decided to skip the Iowa Straw Polls coming up this summer, to many conservative pundits surprise. Some political speculators say that the candidate may skip Iowa altogether, which comes as a shock to Iowans and other candidates, considering that Bush is seen as the strongest and most well funded conservative candidate in the field. The Iowa Straw Polls are seen as a critical contest for Republican candidates, as the first real primary of the election season. Candidates generally tour the state and test their platforms throughout town hall meetings in the state, while it is not make or break for any single candidate, it is an important first insight into how campaigns will run and how public support will build. Additionally, unlikely or poorly funded candidates can earn a larger array of support by doing well, or better than expected in Iowa. Mr. Bush is in no need for extra funding according to Keith Mann (Check out his Wikipedia), and may be unwilling to put his platform out for defeat quite yet, which may be why he is strategically absent.

Bush’s primary campaign strategy will most likely focus on other states further in the future, after he has toured and begun giving more frequent speeches. In addition, he may target states after some candidates have dropped out of the race, in states that he has a better chance of winning. Experts have claimed that this strategy is bold and unexpected, but may pay off.