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The central theme of Salena Zito’s article is that rural Democrats are switching parties because they’re voting for their lives. The chief setting for Ms. Zito’s article is Lee Supply’s training room, which is described as “a third-generation family-owned business” that’s been “operating since 1954.”

Geographically, it’s described as being nestled “in a glen between the rolling hills of the Alleghenies and the Monongahela River.” Its economic niche is that “it sells pipe and pumping systems used in everything from traditional applications, such as water distribution and sewage treatment, to highly specialized applications such as horizontal directional drilling, slip lining, leachate and methane collection, gas extraction and water transport.”

The political impact of Lee Supply’s training room might be election-changing. As Ms. Zito notes, “Every single person who walked into Lee Supply’s training room, from the CEO down to the janitor, was a registered Democrat. And every single person pledged not only to vote for Trump and Toomey but to ask family, neighbors and friends to do the same.”

It’s important to note that this information is anecdotal. It isn’t scientific. This information isn’t anecdotal, though:

Paul Sracic, a Youngstown State University political scientist, believes there are two categories of voters rallying to support Trump. “First, there are people who don’t normally vote,” he said. “Nearly half the voting-age population was either not registered to vote, or was registered and decided not to vote in 2012. And if even 10 percent of that group was to show up and vote this year, it could easily change the outcome in the important swing states.”

Sracic—who frankly admits he obsesses over opinion polls—wonders whether these voters are even represented in the endless presidential surveys: “If people aren’t registered voters, they won’t be picked up by most polls. If they are registered voters but don’t normally vote, they may be eliminated by ‘likely voter’ screens pollsters use.” Romney lost Pennsylvania in 2012 by about 300,000 votes out of about 5.5 million cast; in Ohio, he lost by less than 200,000. “So bringing new people in can make a difference,” Sracic said.

Potentially more significant, however, are those voters who “flip”— Sracic’s second category. “Remember,” he said, “taking a Democratic voter and having them vote Republican is both a +1 and a -1. In other words, if Romney lost Pennsylvania by 300,000 voters, all you have to do [this time] is flip slightly more than 150,000 votes.” Between Ohio and Pennsylvania, if approximately 225,000 voters (out of the 11 million who are expected on Election Day) switch parties, they could tip the entire election.

It’s unknown how many people are “voting for their lives” in swing states. If western Pennsylvania is an example, though, it’s quite possible that the polling in Ohio and Pennsylvania won’t pick up a Trump mini-wave. This sums things up perfectly:

“Nine years ago I was forced into retirement at Corning, and I needed a job with health care,” said Paul Satranko, a lifelong Mon Valley resident. A Vietnam War veteran, he played Little League baseball 60 years ago with Lee Supply’s CEO, he has been the company’s janitor and all-around character ever since. “There is no room for apathy in this election,” he said. “I think that is what people not from around here don’t understand—we are voting for our lives.” He plans to vote for Trump.

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About 45 minutes ago, the sirens went off. A minute later, the local weather station announced a tornado warning for “Benton and Stearns counties.” At the time, the tornado warning was set to expire at 6:45 pm. At that time, the tornado that had touched down was moving northeast at 35 mph.

The tornado warning has been extended until 7:15 pm.

Further, weather spotters reported that a tornado had touched down in Sartell, about 5-6 miles to the north of me.

UPDATE: A friend just called me. My friend said that a funnel cloud had passed to the north of Cathedral High School. When I asked where the storm had passed, my friend said it passed to the St. Cloud Hospital side of Cathedral.

UPDATE II: A tornado has been spotted east of St. Cloud. Foley is expected to get hit within the next 3-5 minutes.

UPDATE III: The NWS has issued a severe thunderstorm east of Foley. That cell is moving at 20 mph. Additionally, the tornado warning for Kandiyohi County has expired but another tornado warning has been issued for central Stearns County.

The tornado warning for eastern Benton County is set to expire at 7:45. Stay tuned, though. This cell has spawned at least 4 tornado touchdowns.

UPDATE IV: This should get people’s attention:

Easter is a time of celebration for Christians. Christ has risen after His crucifixion. Sometimes, important lessons are learned through simple stories. Jeremy’s Egg is one of those stories. Here’s the abridged version of the story:

Jeremy was born with a twisted body and a slow mind. At the age of 12, he was still in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises.

Spring came and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg. “Now,” she said to them “I want you to take this home & bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?” “Yes, Miss Miller,” the children responded enthusiastically all except Jeremy.

n the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh yes, a flower is certainly a sign of new life.” She said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl is the first to raise her hand. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller” she called out. The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that’s new life too.”

Little Judy smiled proudly and said “Miss Miller, that one is mine.” Next Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom, “My daddy helped me” he beamed.

When Doris opened the fourth egg, she gasped. The egg was empty. Surely, it must be Jeremy’s, she thought. Of course, he didn’t understand her instructions. If only she hadn’t forgotten to phone his parents. Because she didn’t want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside, reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?” Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy, your egg is empty.” He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty, too.” Time stopped.

When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?” “Oh yes,’ Jeremy said, “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up.” The recess bell rang.

Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the mortuary were surprised to see nineteen eggs on top of his casket, each of them empty.

It’s stunning that a mentally-challenged 12-year-old understood the story of Christ’s empty tomb while it’s incomprehensible to highly educated people.

From I Corinthians 1:20:

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

A frequent reader of LFR sent me an email that put a smile on my face. Here’s what it said:

  1. I’m not saying let’s go kill all the stupid people. I’m just saying let’s remove all the warning labels and let the problem work itself out.
  2. I changed my car horn to gunshot sounds. People move out of the way much faster now.
  3. You can tell a lot about a woman’s mood just by her hands. If they are holding a gun, she’s probably pissed.
  4. I didn’t make it to the gym today. That now makes 1,500 days in a row.
  5. Dear paranoid people who check behind your shower curtains for murderers:- If you happen to find one, what’s your plan?
  6. Everyone has a right to be stupid. Politicians just abuse the privilege.

Have a great week!

My LTE for the St. Cloud Times is posted today. Check it out to find out why Minnesotans deserve better than what we’re getting.

Monday night, 4 St. Cloud City Council members voted to require that sidewalks be built in neighborhoods that don’t already have them. The asterisk is that this won’t happen until that block’s streets are torn up to install upgrades to the city’s sewer and water systems. The other notable asterisk is that this won’t add a penny in assessments to the property owners.

That said, it’s terrible public policy. First, I’ll say that I live on a block that doesn’t have a public sidewalk. I’m definitely biased. Mine is definitely a low traffic part of town. It’s worth noting that I’ve lived in my current home for 50 years. It’s noteworthy because, in all that time, we’ve never had any public safety issues in our neighborhood.

Last night, I spoke with Mayor Kleis about the issue at the weekly gathering for Ox in the Afternoon listeners. When I asked him for a justification for this requirement, one of his responses was that sidewalks are just part of the price of living in cities. I’d respectfully disagree. Prior to Monday night’s vote, they really weren’t.

There’s no question that they were a potential cost. Prior to Monday night’s vote, however, it was the city’s responsibility to prove why installing sidewalks were necessary. Prior to Monday night’s vote, the city had to hold public hearings where that block’s citizens frequently spoke out against installing sidewalks. From the city’s standpoint, it was a messy process that should be avoided at all costs.

Thanks to Monday night’s vote, the city got its wish. Sort of.

Another rationalization for requiring the sidewalks was that we’re already required to mow the law that is the city’s right of way. That’s something I can’t dispute. That said, that isn’t a persuasive argument. In fact, that’s one of the flimsiest public policy arguments I’ve ever heard.

From the city’s standpoint, upkeep is upkeep. All property owners’ responsibilities are equal in their eyes. Nothing is further from reality. Making 2 passes with a lawnmower on a beautiful summer day isn’t the burden for a property owner than shovelling a foot of wet snow is in February. To think that they’re equal in terms of physical exertion is foolish.

This is one of the most foolish public policy statements I’ve ever heard:

Council President Jeff Goerger said the city will continue to consider how sidewalks will impact trees and driveway access before they are put in.

“We represent all the citizens of St. Cloud,” Georger said. “We have to ask ‘Are sidewalks important to this community as a whole? Are they a benefit to this community as a whole?’”

I expect one-size-fits-all policies from the federal government. I expect custom-tailored solutions from the city council.

What’s particularly bothersome is the fact that Georger isn’t asking the right question. There are tons of things that theoretically make sense from community-as-a-whole standpoint that don’t make any sense from a is-it-right-for-this-situation standpoint.

The question Mayor Kleis didn’t address was what problem this fixes. There aren’t any public safety issues that this will fix, at least not on the east side of town. It adds to government’s intrusion into my life in terms of requiring me to shovel snow on a sidewalk I don’t own or want.

Finally, what’s inexplicable is that Mayor Kleis has a lengthy history of keeping government intrusion limited. It doesn’t make sense that he’s now supporting an ordinance that’s this intrusive in people’s lives.

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It’s been awhile since I posted on LFR. Thanks to the second biggest storm that’s ever hit my house, I was without power for almost 55 hours to the minute. The official determination is that we were hit by straight line winds that exceeded 70 mph. Perhaps that’s what happened but I couldn’t prove it by the destruction in my neighborhood.

First, I was fortunate. I had three broken branches, 2 of which were ‘politely’ deposited on the roof of my garage. The other is still up in the tree. The house to my north had 2 big branches on its rooftop. The house across my alley lost 3 trees. One tree is still standing, sorta. It’s a box elder that had been there since the 1960s. The house across the street from me lost a monster blue spruce and another tree.

The irony is that the home with the most trees down didn’t lose power. Apparently, they’re on a different grid than I’m on. A block to the south of me, the wind snapped off 2 power line poles like twigs. What’s wierd is that they snapped 6-8 feet from the top of the poles.

The neighborhood made it through the storm fairly well considering. The neighbors across the street, Brian and Craig, let us tap into their electrical outlet. That helped save almost all of the food in the refrigerator, with a couple of eggs and a thing of breakfast sausage being the only things that went bad in the fridge.

We actually ate pretty good during the outage. Saturday, Jim and I ate a couple of steaks made on the grill for lunch. We ate some Hannah Lake walleyes made on Jim’s propane single-burner stove for supper. FYI- Hannah Lake walleye is what our family has called the sunfish and crappies from Hannah Lake for decades.

Personally, I’d rather have stayed at a nice hotel with wi-fi, a nice restaurant and electricity than deal with the comforts of home. Though my home didn’t get blasted like it could’ve, I can definitely empathize with the thousands of people still without power, especially those in the Cities.

My prayers are definitely with them.

Finally, I want to praise the professionals who’ve spent the weekend cleaning up from this nasty storm. The city employees who got rid of the trees that littered the intersections were efficient and informative. The professionals who restored power worked quickly until they had to quit. Work rules prohibit them from working more than 16 straight hours. The team of professionals who restored power came here from Kansas City, MO.

It’s impossible to call this weekend fun but everyone got through it ok without injuries. Considering the winds of Friday morning, I’d call that a miracle.

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak tweaked New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday night:

Wheel of Fortune is playing in front of crowds at Madison Square Garden in New York City this week. Host Pat Sajak took the opportunity to poke a little fun at America’s leading paternalist, Michael Bloomberg. Sipping from Big Gulp-sized soda — with many in the audience laughing on — Sajak informed the crowd that he had just discovered “cola is better with trans-fats in it.”

Why did he do it?

“Not much to say. It was Monday night on Wheel, our first night of four weeks at Madison Square Garden in New York. Not sure why everyone laughed; I was just thirsty,” Sajak told Human Events.

God bless Pat Sajak for tweaking Bloomberg. Bloomberg is out of control. The best way to stop his antics at this point is to ridicule him mercilessly for acting like NYC’s nanny. That’s precisely what Sajak did.

About an hour ago, St. Cloud State punched their ticket to get into their first Frozen Four tournament. Playing stellar hockey all weekend, St. Cloud State just wouldn’t be denied. The line of Cory Thorson, Joey Benik and Brooks Bertsch played a monster of a game, scoring all 4 of the Huskies’ goals against Miami.

The game started with the fastest first period I’d ever witnessed. It took 31 minutes to play a 20 minute period. Both teams entered with reputations of pushing the tempo. Benik got the Huskies on the board first just 5:28 into the first period. After that, Miami put on some pressure, twice hitting the pipe with shots on the same shift.

Benik provided the second goal of the game, too, getting his fourth goal of the weekend 5:36 into the second period. after Miami scored to make the score 2-1 Huskies, the “Thorson line” (Coach Motzko’s name for it) went to work again. This time, Cory Thorson lasered a shot past Miami’s Ryan McKay to give SCSU another 2-goal lead. For those who didn’t watch the game on ESPNU, Thorson’s shot is what’s known as a goal scorer’s goal, the type of shot few players are capable of making.

For the game, the Thorson line was a +10, with Thorson being on the ice for 4 even-strength goals, with Bertsch and Benik being on for 3 even-strength goals each.

What was most impressive for me was watching the Huskies playing with such total confidence. I suspect that’s because they went through the competition of a grueling WCHA schedule. No disrespect intended towards Notre Dame or Miami of Ohio but it’s tough to get frightened after facing the likes of North Dakota, the Gophers, Mankato State and Wisconsin.

The Huskies played like they belong in the Final Four from the drop of the puck against Notre Dame to Cory Thorson’s empty netter with .2 of second left in today’s game.

The telling stats for me weren’t what you’d expect. It wasn’t that Ryan Faragher was the second coming of Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden, though he certainly played well. The first stat that jumps out at me is that SCSU didn’t give up an even-strength goal all weekend. The other statistic that’s worth noting is that they gave up 3 shots in the second period and 5 shots in the third period against Notre Dame, then essentially did the same thing today, limiting Miami of Ohio to 5 shots in the second period and 7 shots in the third period.

The Huskies put a thorough thumping on Notre Dame and Miami of Ohio this weekend. Their defense was strong all weekend. They moved the puck out cleanly most of the time, which is impressive considering how Miami was buzzing today. Their ‘third line’, aka “the Thorson line”, dominated throughout the weekend. Ryan Faragher gave up a goal Saturday and another today.

If they play like this when they get to Pittsburgh, there’s no reason to think they can’t win the last game of the NCAA hockey season and bring home the big hardware.

Admittedly, I jumped on the Huskies’ bandwagon late this season. That said, they’ve given hockey fans reason to get excited. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if more jumped on the bandwagon.

The Huskies’ flight is expected back to the St. Cloud Airport at 10:30 tonight. I plan on being there. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a big gathering at the airport tonight.

This afternoon, I watched the SCSU Huskies utterly dismantle the top-seeded Notre Dame hockey team, winning going away by a score of 5-1. Ben Hanowski got the Huskies started 11:32 into the opening period on a great lunch pale goal.

Notre Dame appeared to tie it just 24 seconds later, only to have the goal waved off because the Notre Dame forward clearly kicked the puck. To be fair, the Irish forward appeared to be trying to kick it to his stick. Regardless, he didn’t get his stick on the puck.

After that, Notre Dame didn’t have any life to their game.

That wasn’t the case with the Huskies. They dominated the Fighting Irish in the second period, scoring 3 goals in 5:25. This time, the snipers were Joseph Benik, Cory Thorson and Jonny Brodzinski. Benik’s goal his first of 2 power play goals, with both coming on big rebounds that happened while he snuck in on the goalie’s weak side. Brodzinski’s goal was a pretty give-and-go-give play.

Ryan Faragher made 10 saves in the first period, then faced a total of 8 shots in the second and third periods. Combined.

Steve Summerhays gave up 4 goals in the first 2 periods on 18 shots, including giving up 3 goals on 7 shots in the second period.

Thanks to today’s performance, SCSU is just a win away from their first appearance in the Frozen Four, collegiate hockey’s equivalent of basketball’s Final Four. I’ll be watching tomorrow’s game on ESPNU but I’ll have my radio tuned into KNSI so I can hearn Don Lyon’s call of the game.

For those who haven’t heard Don call a hockey game, make sure you listen. He’s an NHL-caliber play-by-play announcer. For those of you outside KNSI’s range, follow this link to tune into the livestream of the game. I promise you won’t regret it.