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I’ve watched the video of Red Skelton reciting the Pledge of Allegiance many times. It’s never failed to lift my spirits. Here is that video:

This most recent time, a few words struck me and stayed with me, possibly because of recent events. Here’s the text of Red Skelton’s commentary on the Pledge of Allegiance:

When I was a small boy in Vincennes, Indiana, I heard, I think, one of the most outstanding speeches I ever heard in my life. I think it compares with the Sermon on the Mount, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, and Socrates’ Speech to the Students.

We had just finished reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and he [Mr. Lasswell, the Principal of Vincennes High School] called us all together, and he says, “Uh, boys and girls, I have been listening to you recite the Pledge of Allegiance all semester, and it seems that it has become monotonous to you. Or, could it be, you do not understand the meaning of each word? If I may, I would like to recite the pledge, and give you a definition for each word:

I — Me; an individual; a committee of one.

Pledge — Dedicate all of my worldly good to give without self-pity.

Allegiance — My love and my devotion.

To the Flag — Our standard. “Old Glory”; a symbol of courage. And wherever she waves, there is respect, because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts “Freedom is everybody’s job.”

of the United — That means we have all come together.

States — Individual communities that have united into 48 great states; 48 individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided by imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common cause, and that’s love of country —

Of America.

And to the Republic — A Republic: a sovereign state in which power is invested into the representatives chosen by the people to govern; and the government is the people; and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

For which it stands

One Nation — Meaning “so blessed by God.”

[Under God]

Indivisible — Incapable of being divided.

With Liberty — Which is freedom; the right of power for one to live his own life without fears, threats, or any sort of retaliation.

And Justice — The principle and qualities of dealing fairly with others.

For All — For All. That means, boys and girls, it’s as much your country as it is mine.

Now let me hear you recite the Pledge of Allegiance:

I pledge allegiance
to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic, for which it stands;
one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Since I was a small boy, two states have been added to our country, and two words have been added to the Pledge of Allegiance: Under God. Wouldn’t it be a pity if someone said, “That is a prayer” — and that be eliminated from our schools, too?

This time, this part of the Pledge jumped out at me:

And to the Republic — A Republic: a sovereign state in which power is invested into the representatives chosen by the people to govern; and the government is the people; and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

Let’s ask ourselves a fundamental question this Independence Day. Let’s think it through before answering because getting this question right is essential.

Does our government see itself as getting its authority from the people? Or does our government think that they give us our marching orders? When the Supreme Court told us that each of the sovereign states had to do what the Supreme Court instructed them to do, it’s undeniable that government was telling We the People what to do. Isn’t it true that we’re ruled more by bureaucrats appointed by politicians than we’re governed by We The People?

This sentence stood out, too:

With Liberty — Which is freedom; the right of power for one to live his own life without fears, threats, or any sort of retaliation.

When people live in fear of the IRS or the Justice Department destroying their lives simply because they have different political beliefs, then Americans of all political stripes need to throw people out. ASAP. Government that tells We The People what they can and can’t do is a destructive, tyrannical force. Whether this government is as tyrannical as the government that we declared our independence from 239 years ago today is something that historians can argue about.

Still, there’s no credible disputing that the current government isn’t the virtuous government that our Founding Fathers gave us.

I wish I could say that I’m surprised that Gov. Dayton defended his unfair pay raises for a set of incompetent commissioners but that’s what he did:

Gov. Mark Dayton followed through on his promise Wednesday, giving two dozen cabinet members and other commissioners salary increases. It’s essentially the same set of pay hikes Dayton granted in January before lawmakers voted to rescind the raises in the midst of a political uproar over them. The same legislation granted the DFL governor a one day window to reauthorize the pay, on July 1. And he used that power, citing the need to attract and retain high quality administrators for multi-billion-dollar state agencies.

“I do believe in government. I believe the issue isn’t smaller or larger government, it’s better or worse government,” Dayton told reporters Wednesday afternoon. “And my goal is to make government better.”

As I wrote yesterday, some commissioners are utterly incompetent. Yesterday, Gov. Dayton complained about getting criticized for his foolish decision. Here’s what he said:

GOV. DAYTON: It’s very, very frustrating to me that their bottom line goal seems to be to discredit government as much as possible, discredit me, build up some political talking points so they can get re-elected next time.

Giving incompetents like Myron Frans a $35,000 annual pay raise isn’t justified. When he was commissioner of the Department of Revenue, he projected revenue from electronic pull tabs to be $35,000,000/yr. That was the projection. The reality was $1,700,000/yr. That’s a shortfall of 95%.

When governors give $35,000 pay raises to a commissioner that was off by 95% with an important forecast, it isn’t difficult to discredit that governor. In fact, I’d argue that it’s impossible to make that governor look anything but incompetent.

Gov. Dayton whines about Republicans wanting to discredit him. The best way to prevent that is to stop doing stupid things. Unfortunately, there’s little chance that Gov. Dayton will stop making foolish decisions before he leaves office.

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Recently, President Obama’s sympathizers have tried making the case that he’s as consequential as Ronald Reagan. If they define consequential as doing historic things that are disastrous, then President Obama has been consequential.

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster. Premiums are sharply higher. Deductibles have exploded. Choices are fewer. Networks are limited. We’re forced into buying policies that cover things that we don’t need. We couldn’t keep our doctors even though we were promised that we could.

Despite that, President Obama insists that he’s protected the middle class:

After having a friendly chat on the tarmac at LaCrosse Regional Airport with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, President Obama made fun of the GOP field jockeying to succeed him and ripped into Walker’s actions as governor.

“You all have enough for an actual Hunger Games,” Obama said about the large Republican presidential field. “That is an interesting bunch,” he quipped before explaining why trickle-down economics doesn’t work.

He said that many of the contenders are proposing ideas that they say would benefit the middle class. “Tammy, Ron, me — we were talking about the middle class before it was cool,” he said referring to Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Ron Kind, whose district encompasses LaCrosse, who were in the audience at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse auditorium. “We were talking about it before the polls” said politicians “should be talking about it,” he added.

Mr. President, talking about the middle class isn’t the same as improving middle class lives. President Reagan created more high-paying union jobs than you’ve created jobs. That’s before talking about how many companies shifted from full-time employees to “29ers.” Mr. President, is it a triumph that companies shifted from full-time jobs to part-time jobs?

That’s what Obamacare did. It also created “49ers.” Let’s review. 29ers are employees whose hours were cut from 40 hours to 29 hours to avoid having to provide health insurance to the. 49ers are companies that’ve chosen to not expand past 49 employees so they don’t have to comply with the employer mandate.

In September, 1983, the US economy created 1,100,000 good-paying full-time jobs. Thanks to President Reagan’s policies, we had 6 straight quarters of economic growth of more than 5%. Internationally, the United States vanquished the Evil Empire, aka the Soviet Union. President Obama resurrected it. Israel knew it could count the United States as a steadfast ally. President Obama couldn’t push Israel to the side quickly enough.

Thanks to President Obama’s policies of non-intervention, the global terrorist network is expanding rapidly. President Reagan’s policies of militarism checked Soviet expansionist policies.

We’ll be cleaning up President Obama’s messes for years. By comparison, President Reagan’s economic policies ushered in a quarter century of unprecedented economic growth.

This NY Times article falls squarely into the GOP establishment’s wheelhouse:

After Mr. Walker moved to support Iowa’s prized ethanol subsidies, abandoned his support for an immigration overhaul and spoke out against the Common Core national education standards, his pointed tone on marriage caused some Republicans to ask publicly whether he is too willing to modify his views to aid his ambitions.

“It seems like pollsters gone wild,” said Scott Reed, a longtime Republican strategist and top adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discussing Mr. Walker’s call for a constitutional amendment. To Republicans like Mr. Reed, Mr. Walker appears increasingly willing to lose the general election to win the primary.

Apparently, Mr. Reed didn’t notice that Republicans ran to the center the last 2 elections and got thrashed. If the GOP doesn’t figure out that conservatism is popular, they’ll continue to get thrashed in presidential elections.

But the expectations created by that early prominence, as well as a growing threat from conservative firebrands like Senator Ted Cruz, have taken a toll. To protect his lead in Iowa, a state with a heavily conservative Republican electorate, Mr. Walker has taken a harder line on a number of issues than his allies had anticipated. Now a growing number of party leaders say Mr. Walker is raising questions about his authenticity and may be jeopardizing his prospects in states where voters’ sensibilities are more moderate.

Moderates don’t excite the GOP base. They frequently run on the issue of electability but they’re usually unelectable themselves because principled voters want principled politicians fighting for them. The last thing that the GOP needs is another Bush at the top of the ticket.

They’ve underperformed in the past. Their Supreme Court justices haven’t turned out well, either.

Gov. Dayton is proudly proclaiming that Minnesota is the best state to do business in. He’s basing that propaganda on CNBC’s latest ranking. After looking at how they arrived at the categories that they ranked states on, it’s easy to see how CNBC arrived at their ridiculous ratings. First, it’s important to know this about the rating system:

For example, if more states tout their low business costs, the “Cost of Doing Business” category carries greater weight. That way, our study ranks the states based on the criteria they use to sell themselves.

According to CNBC’s report, workforce is the most important category, followed by cost of doing business and infrastructure, economy, quality of life, technology & innovation, education, business friendliness, cost of living and, finally, access to capital.

Minnesota ranked 13th in workforce, 35th in cost of doing business, 9th in infrastructure, 5th in economy, 3rd in quality of life, 6th in technology and innovation, 2nd in education, 23rd in business friendliness, 32nd in cost of living and 23rd in access to capital.

CNBC’s ratings only tell us what the states think of themselves. They don’t tell us what businesses think of the state. The fact that more businesses are leaving Minnesota than are moving to Minnesota is the best indicator of what businesses think.

That isn’t to say that Minnesota is getting everything wrong. There are some things that we can build off of. It’s just that there’s a handful of important things that we’d better correct if we want to be the best. Lowering the cost of doing business is essential. That’s only possible by streamlining government, especially regulations. Cutting special deals with a couple companies to entice them here, then shafting businesses that are already here, which the Dayton administration has done, needs to change, too.

UPDATE: King Banaian’s article for the Center for the American Experiment highlights similar points. This point is especially noteworthy:

If you’re a state that isn’t particularly business friendly, you don’t talk about that in your marketing materials. You emphasize other things. You puff your materials with discussion of quality of life and how hardworking your workers are and ignore the areas where your policies might make business a little harder to conduct. And CNBC will go right along and take weight off those things, if the rest of the states are doing the same thing.

I can’t emphasize enough the fact that CNBC’s article isn’t a serious economic statement. It’s a statement based off of the states’ PR statements.

Laurence Tribe’s op-ed about the King v. Burwell ruling is typical progressivism. It’s all about rationalizing a terrible, wrong-headed decision. Tribe made some statements that deserve rebutting. This is one of those statements:

The Supreme Court correctly applied standard interpretive methods in holding that, despite the apparent clarity of those four words, the law makes subsidies available on all exchanges, state and federal. Looking to the overall purpose, structure, and context of the Act, the court asked with incredulity why Congress would risk total implosion of the ACA just to encourage states to create their own exchanges especially when Congress itself provided the federal backstop.

When the words are clear, which they are, the test that Tribe mentioned isn’t applied. Typically, that test is only applied if the words are ambiguous. Chief Justice Roberts said that the 4 words were “inartful drafting.” Justice Scalia’s response was that it wasn’t likely that that inartful drafting would appear in the ACA’s language 7 different times.

As for whether Congress “would risk total implosion of the ACA just to encourage states to create their own exchanges”, the answer is yes. That’s why the federal government didn’t start building their website right away. Their plan — their concerted plan — was to pressure states into creating their own exchanges. Further, the IRS didn’t write its rule extending subsidies to people who bought their insurance through HealthCare.gov until it was clear that a substantial number of states weren’t going to create state-run exchanges.

Isn’t it curious that that clarification wasn’t the first thing mentioned in the rules? The instructions to the IRS weren’t written until late in the process. Why wasn’t it the first rule written? If the ACA’s success hinged on the subsidies, shouldn’t that have been the first rule written?

The people also won because the Roberts Court has given them a solid basis for trusting that hard-won victories in Congress will remain intact when challenged in the court. When it decides constitutional cases, like the much-anticipated same-sex marriage cases, the court’s role is to serve as a check on the people, ensuring that legislative or popular majorities don’t act in violation of the Constitution. This is the sense in which the court has famously been described as “counter-majoritarian.”

The Constitution was built to restrict what government isn’t authorized to do. That’s insanity. The Fourth Amendment wasn’t written to tell people what they couldn’t do. It was written to tell government what it can’t do. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from conducting unreasonable searches against private citizens and publicly-traded companies.

The First Amendment prohibits Congress from writing laws that restrict people’s ability to speak out against politicians and government. It isn’t a check on people. It’s another check on government.

If Prof. Tribe can’t understand the most basic principles underpinning the Constitution, then his opinions on Supreme Court rulings is questionable.

When I’ve written about censorship on college campuses, it’s usually been because people have argued that they have the right to never be offended. Jon Stewart recently interviewed Judge Napolitano about the First Amendment, specifically citing the right to fly the Confederate Flag. Here’s the entire interview:

Here’s the heart of what Judge Napolitano told Stewart:

NAPOLITANO: I say you have the right to fly that flag on your private property. You have the right to any opinion or thought you want, even one manifested or animated by hate. And the government has no business regulating thought. If the First Amendment protects anything, it protects your absolute unfettered right to think what you want and say what you think.

Last week, I heard something simple, yet profound. Someone said that there’s no need to protect popular speech because nobody objects to it. The First Amendment is the most important part of the Bill of Rights because it tells the government that We The People will decide what’s said and that the government shall not have the right to tell us to shut up or restrict what we say.

Judge Napolitano quickly pointed out, however, that if he said something controversial, or even hateful, he doesn’t have the right to not hear from people who disagree with him. Napolitano said that nobody in the United States has “the right to not be offended.”

Apparently, the enlightened people on college campuses didn’t get that memo. Apparently, Cass Sunstein didn’t learn that in civics class either:

In recent months, universities have turned their attention to an important problem that should be included in our national effort to examine and root out bigotry. They have identified, and attempted to reduce, “microaggressions” — words or behavior that might stigmatize or humiliate women or members of minority groups, with particular emphasis on African-Americans, disabled people, and gays and lesbians. The effort has admirable goals, but there is a risk that schools will overshoot the mark.

University administrators don’t have the authority to ban words from campus. Further, administrators aren’t doing students a favor by limiting students’ exposure to repulsive language. Just like there’s no way to totally eliminate gun violence, there’s no way to stop people from saying disgusting things.

That’s because there will always be hate-filled, ill-tempered people.

The solution to this isn’t banning words or flags that trigger hurt feelings. The solution is criticizing people who say hurtful things. BTW, Hillary Clinton has called for banning certain types of flags.

I’d way rather live in a world that lives according to Judge Napolitano’s principles than a world living by Hillary’s principles. It isn’t even close.

The Minnesota Timberwolves were excited going into Thursday night’s NBA Draft because they had the first overall pick in the draft for the first time in the team’s 26-year history. They also had the first pick of the 2nd round, the 31st pick overall along with the 36th pick overall.

When the dust settled at the end of the first round, the Timberwolves had picked Kentucky’s Karl Anthony-Towns with the first overall pick, then traded their second round picks to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Tyus Jones, the NCAA Final Four MVP for Duke. For Jones, it’s a dream come true after being named the best basketball player in Minnesota his final 3 seasons at Apple Valley High School.

Here’s the video of KAT getting picked first overall, then getting interviewed on ESPN, then watching his parents react to the news:

The more you learn about KAT, the more you’re certain that he isn’t just a talented player. Without question, he’s a supremely talented player both offensively and defensively. Flip Saunders has to be pinching himself because, more than anything else, KAT’s got the mindset and work ethic of a champion. Teaming him up with Andrew Wiggins, this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year and NBA All Star Weekend Dunk Champion Zach LaVine is exciting enough.

Adding Tyus Jones, with his winning pedigree at every level that he’s played at, is how foundations for future championships are built. After trading for Tyus, T’Wolves Coach Flip Saunders walked over to the night club where Jones’ family was watching the draft:

For years, I found it impossible to get excited about the Timberwolves. They’re still a few years away from being a championship contender but, without question, the building blocks are there.

The MPCA’s Special Interests’ Citizens Board held its final meeting Tuesday. It was a bittersweet day, depending on your political persuasion. For environmental activists, it was a bitter ending. For people that believe in holding government accountable, it was a beautiful sight. First, let’s listen to the special interests’ whining:

“Dissolving the Citizens’ Board is bad for rural and metro Minnesota,” said Kathy DeBuhr at a protest before the board’s final meeting Tuesday morning. “This legislature has taken away the voice of the common person. The little guy.”

DeBuhr was among those who protested a proposed 9,000-cow “mega-dairy feedlot” in western Minnesota in 2014. In a controversial move, the Citizens’ Board ordered the dairy operation to seek an expensive and time-consuming environmental impact statement even though MPCA staff had not ordered one. The dairy ultimately decided not to go forward with the project.

Ms. DeBuhr’s whining is annoying at best. This wasn’t a panel of ordinary citizens. It was an activist board. The fact that they ran off a major dairy operation after the operation had gotten its permits from the MPCA speaks to their activism.

Further, what type of citizens panel reserves a spot for a union member? The Board had a member of Duluth’s Transit Authority and an “agriculture representative”, too. I still haven’t heard anyone explain why there’s a need for a citizens panel. Isn’t the MPCA doing its job properly? If it isn’t, shouldn’t the MPCA be overhauled or outright abolished?

The Citizens’ Board was established to guard against undue political influence of the agency and to create a public and transparent decision making process on controversial issues. Supporters of the board say its abolishment will remove the final public process for environmental review and permitting actions for industry and factory farms.

The notion that the Citizens Board was impartial is absurd. It wasn’t. It was filled with activists. As for the statement that this removes “the final public process for environmental review and permitting,” that’s a bit melodramatic. Why is it necessary for limitless environmental reviews?

If there is a thing called progressive logic, this Times Writers Group article fits the definition perfectly:

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced an amendment titled “Northstar Commuter Rail Extension Study,” key to getting the line from Big Lake to St. Cloud. The study would estimate ridership, identify funding sources and include a timeline for implementation.

Ironically, it was Central Minnesota lawmakers who put the kibosh on this perfectly reasonable, much-needed effort. Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker, took the lead, characterizing Northstar commuter rail as only a shuttle to the St. Cloud prison. “Boy, wouldn’t that be convenient,” he said on the House floor, “to have that rail line going from the prison to North Minneapolis.” He continued that in his “neck of the woods” in Becker, “we don’t call it Northstar, we call it the black hole because that’s where all the money goes.”

Where to begin?

By Newberger’s logic, apparently no one from the Twin Cities would want to visit St. Cloud for any reason other than to stop at the prison — not to go to St. Cloud State University, Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, the Paramount Arts District or to see the 100,000-plus people living in our metro area. By his logic, we should take out U.S. Highway 10, so people could not visit the 242 prisoners from Hennepin County behind the granite walls. Egad!

We don’t need to spend money on more studies. Ridership of the Northstar is tiny. As for where to begin, let’s start with the reality that only transportation lobbyists and pork-tasting politicians like the Northstar project. Thoughtful people prefer the liberty that comes with driving. Environmentalists have been trying to force transit down our throats for decades. People have overwhelmingly rejected these options.

Rather than listening to the people, these progressives keep pushing these unwanted options. When will they accept that we aren’t interested?