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Americans should view the negotiations between the Trump administration and the Democrats like a hostage negotiation. After all, Sen. Schumer is holding the U.S. military, the border patrol and the CHIP program hostage. By filibustering the CR Friday night, Sen. Schumer and his shills have held hostage the paychecks for our military, border patrol and first responders. With their actions, Democrats have earned the wrath of patriots from across the political spectrum. In addition to holding these paychecks hostage, the Democrats’ filibuster has left 9,000,000 vulnerable children more vulnerable by not voting to reauthorize CHIP for the next 6 years.

If you add the 2,000,000+ people serving in the military to the 9,000,000 vulnerable children, that’s quite the hostage taking.

If Democrats think this isn’t firing up the GOP base, they’re kidding themselves. If Democrats think that their filibuster isn’t turning off independents, they’re kidding themselves. Ronna Romney-McDaniel, the chair of the RNC, said essentially the same thing in this op-ed:

Last night, Senate Democrats shut down the United States government. They recklessly chose to jeopardize paychecks for our troops and border patrolmen to appease their far-left base. In triggering a totally unnecessary, easily avoidable shutdown, they put at stake the health insurance of nine million vulnerable children and a number of other critical programs, including veteran services and opioid treatment programs.

Part of the Democrats’ talking points is to say that Republicans control the White House, the House and the Senate. it’s true that they control the White House and the House of Representatives. They don’t control the Senate.

Republicans did their job and offered a solution to keep the government running, but they couldn’t stop the shutdown from happening on their own. Appropriations bills require 60 Senate votes to pass. With only 51 Republican senators, this means Democratic votes are necessary to secure funding.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and his Democratic colleagues own this shutdown. The American people are very well aware that the Schumer shutdown rests squarely on his party’s shoulders. Their hypocrisy is on full display, as the same Democrats who once warned of the consequences of a shutdown eagerly embraced it this go around.

It’s worth noting that Republicans hold a majority in the Senate, which is useful in determining which bills get committee hearings. That simple majority is meaningless, though, when attempting to pass simple funding bills.

Democrats have used the filibuster to insist that President Trump sign a bill that includes amnesty for 700,000 illegal immigrants and millions of their relatives through chain migration. Fighting to protect illegal immigrants while not protecting vulnerable children is what despots do. The Democrats’ actions don’t rise to the level of what third-world dictators do but the Democrats’ actions are disgusting.

Many constituents of the Democrats rely on the government-funded programs that are being handicapped by the shutdown. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) put nearly 83,000 children’s health care at risk with her vote. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) did the same for more than 342,000 children, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) for nearly 45,000 children, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) for 66,000 children. Their constituents are going to demand answers.

Good luck explaining that away.

Sen. Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor last night:

This paragraph especially jumped out at me:

None of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle can point to a single thing in it that they oppose. That is why a bipartisan majority voted for it last night. It would have passed smoothly and been sent on for the president’s signature. Except that the Democratic Leader took the extraordinary step of filibustering this bipartisan bill and initiating his very own government shutdown.

If Democrats want to continue filibustering this funding bill, they have that right. Senate rules permit it. Just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s smart, though. Democrats shouldn’t think that this isn’t turning off independents. Democrats shouldn’t think that this isn’t firing up the GOP base.

The Democrats’ foolish decision is doing both those things. Hell hath no fury like a bunch of voters who’ve gotten ignored by elitist Democrats who protect lawbreakers but don’t protect our troops and our most vulnerable.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Sen. Tina Smith disgraced Minnesota by not voting to extend the CHIP health care program for children. What’s disgraceful is that you wouldn’t know that happened if you read this article. All it talks about is Sen. Smith saying “We have so much that we can work together on and I think in a lot of ways this is a Trump shutdown because of the way that he has — when you are trying to come to an agreement with somebody, you need to feel that you can talk with them and you know where they are coming from and you can try to find common ground. And he’s just been kind of all over the place it makes it really, really hard to resolve, but we’re going to keep on trying.”

Negotiating means flexibility, which means not getting stuck in a single place and not moving. Sen. Smith staked out a position that’s indefensible. Sen. Smith voted against a CR that would’ve funded the CHIP health insurance program for the next 6 years. CHIP “provides health coverage to eligible children, through both Medicaid and separate CHIP programs. CHIP is administered by states, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by states and the federal government.”

By voting against the CR, Sen. Smith (and other Democrats) voted against funding CHIP, funding our military and funding other national security considerations. Tina Smith said that protecting 700,000 illegal immigrants was more important than providing health insurance to 9,000,000 vulnerable children or paying 2,000,000 troops serving worldwide.

According to the article, “Smith says she is optimistic they will get this resolved and come to terms on a budget.” I’m confident that, eventually, a budget will get passed. The question is why Democrats like Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar voted against funding the military, first responders and the CHIP health insurance program.

Minnesota’s DFL senators aren’t moderates. They’ve done whatever Sen. Schumer told them to do. They didn’t vote to do the right thing. They didn’t even vote for a bill that didn’t contain a single thing that they objected to. They voted against a bill that they agreed with 100%. These DFL senators are partisans who voted against vulnerable Minnesota children’s interests.

How despicable is that? About as despicable as saying that the White House and Senate Democrats were close to an agreement last night:

Sen. Schumer wasn’t close to a deal with President Trump last night. That’s because Sen. Schumer isn’t allowed to agree with President Trump on ending chain migration or the visa lottery. If Sen. Schumer agreed to either of those things, the immigration special interest activists would cut him off at the knees in a New York minute. Further, Tina Smith could’ve done the right thing and voted for funding the military and funding the CHIP program without getting Sen. Schumer’s permission. So could Sen. Klobuchar.

Instead, Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith decided that they were Democrats first, Minnesotans second. They put their political affiliation ahead of their responsibilities to Minnesota’s most vulnerable citizens. They voted to protect illegal immigrants rather than pay our military or protect vulnerable children.

Minnesota, take a close look at Sen. Klobuchar’s and Sen. Smith’s disgusting actions. That’s what Democrats do. The DFL puts party loyalty ahead of doing the right thing.

UPDATE: According to this article, “the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) … provides health coverage for 125,000 children in Minnesota. Further, the bill that Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith voted against would’ve kept “the doors open to community health centers that serve more than 180,000 Minnesotans and resources to combat the opioid epidemic that has taken the lives of hundreds of people in Minnesota and countless others across the country.”

Minnesota’s Democrat senators don’t represent what’s best for Minnesota. These DFL senators are actually Schumer’s shills.

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The DFL hasn’t hidden their support for public employee unions like AFSCME, SEIU and MAPE. That means they’ve supported the things described in this article. What’s outlined in this article, though, seems more like highway robbery than representation.

For instance, “Labor unions in a handful of states have been able to take a portion of [Medicaid payments paid to PCAs] by organizing all the personal caregivers as one bargaining unit. Lawmakers in those states have allowed the practice by implementing policies that classify the caregivers as public employees – but only for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

The previous paragraph describes who these PCAs are, saying “Medicaid funds can be provided to personal caregivers who care for an elderly and disabled individual. The caregiver in most cases is related to their client. It’s a system that allows for personalized treatment and oftentimes it allows families to care for loved ones. But it’s also a system that has enriched unions.”

The unions have enriched themselves to the tune of “$200 million annually from Medicaid funds through personal caregivers.” These aren’t public employees. They’re relatives. The union collects their dues but the relatives don’t get the benefits that the unions bargain for. What part of that sounds justifiable?

Here’s what happened in Minnesota:

The union practice exists in states like California, Washington, Oregon, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Vermont, and Connecticut Minnesota lawmakers, for instance, allowed a state union to organize Personal Care Providers (PCA) as a single bargaining unit by passing a law dictating they are state employees simply because they collect Medicaid funds. Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton tried to do the same in 2011 through an executive order, but it failed in the courts.

The same bill that allowed unionization of in-home child care providers also authorized the unionization of family-based PCAs. Here’s part of the committee debate on that legislation:

Rep. Mahoney didn’t tell the truth. The union dues get taken out of money paid by government to in-home child care providers and PCAs. With PCAs, that money comes from Medicaid. These aren’t wages. They’re support payments paid to help families provide care for family members who otherwise might be housed in nursing homes or mental institutions. The state is actually saving money as a direct result of this program.

The family member is subsidized to care for family members because they’ve given up their jobs. That’s essentially a reimbursement paid in exchange for helping the state save money. That isn’t a wage.

“Medicaid will pay for homecare services for the elderly and disabled,” Nelsen told InsideSources. “The SEIU and AFSCME, back in the late 90s, when union membership was generally declining saw these workers, and this pool of Medicaid dollars, as a potential organizing opportunity.”

The U.S. Supreme Court addressed the issue to an extent during the 2014 case, Harris v. Quinn. The justices ruled that Illinois home care providers couldn’t be forced to pay dues because they weren’t technically state employees. Nelsen argues that unions and state leaders have found ways around those restrictions. “The states and unions have worked hand and glove to design a series of workarounds to the Harris v. Quinn decision, and to keep people paying dues whether they want to or not,” Nelsen said. “There are literally hundreds and thousands of these care providers around the country paying union dues to the SEIU and AFSCME against their will.”

In Minnesota, PCAs have petitioned the government to hold a decertification vote. If it’s held, the largest unionized bargaining unit will be decertified. The vote won’t be close.

When the unionization vote happened for in-home child care providers, it was rejected by a 1,014-392 margin. There’s no reason to think this vote won’t be similarly lopsided.

DFL gubernatorial candidate Paul Thissen thinks that accepting refugees is the morally right thing to do. Thissen doesn’t attempt to hide this in his Pi-Press op-ed. Thissen starts by saying “I spent a morning last week at Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul.  The highlight of the trip was a visit to an English Language Learner classroom filled with junior-high-aged children whose families had recently arrived in Minnesota. Bright eyes and smiles accompanied the practiced English greetings that welcomed me into their classroom – a classroom that buzzed with the energy of active and intense learning.”

What’s missing from Thissen’s op-ed was how much translators in that classroom cost. There certainly isn’t anything mentioned how much translators working in classrooms across the state cost. Apparently, that isn’t Thissen’s concern. Apparently, being an accepting society is the only thing that matters to him.

What’s most telling about Thissen’s thinking is when he said “Rather than appealing to Minnesota’s longstanding and proud tradition of welcoming refugees, a tradition led by religious organizations across our state, Johnson plays to baser instincts of fear and division.” First, these aren’t “religious organizations” as much as they’re money-grubbing nonprofits. They aren’t doing this for altruistic reasons. LSS wouldn’t be in the refugee resettlement industry if they weren’t raking in tens of thousands of dollars from the resettlement programs.

Next, it apparently hasn’t dawned on Thissen that we’re probably reaching a saturation point in terms of refugees. A loyal reader of LFR told me that it cost the St. Cloud Hospital $450,000 of its own money to treat foreign-born patients just 4 years ago. Just a year ago, that figure had jumped to $1,700,000. Does Thissen think that money grows on trees, then is dispersed to hospitals and high schools to pay for treatment and translators? This sentence is pure spin:

Federal officials consult closely with local resettlement agencies (Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, the Minnesota Council of Churches) to assess local resources — including staffing, affordable housing and capacity for services like ESL classes and health screenings — before determining the number of refugees our communities can absorb.

If that’s so, explain this video:

From what I’ve seen, the health screenings either don’t happen or they don’t stop serious health difficulties from happening. Finally, there’s this:

When we take actions that turn desperate people away out of fear, out of smallness, or out of political expediency, we fail a fundamental test of character. We fail America. We fail Minnesota. We fail ourselves.

When we turn people away because our communities are going broke absorbing them, we pass the test of rational thinking. When we say that we don’t want additional refugees because of the health risks that they pose, it’s proof that we’re capable of rational thought. Contrary to Rep. Thissen’s accusations, we aren’t failing anything. We’re proving that we’re capable of saying enough is enough.

Thus far, Acting Health Commissioner Dan Pollock has said the right things. It isn’t just a matter of saying the right things, though, like when he said “accelerating investigations of abuse and reducing the huge backlog of uninvestigated complaints will be his “first, second and third priority.”

I recall the Obama administration making the same promises after the VA scandal broke. The promises sounded appropriate. The actions didn’t match the promises. At this point, I’ll just say that there’s lots of pressure on Pollock because it’s his responsibility to clean this mess up.

Since taking the job, Pollock said ““We have heard the message. This needs to be resolved. Families want the investigations to happen in a timely way and the only way that’s going to be possible is by doing this restructuring.”

I’d love hearing how that’s going to happen, especially considering this information:

The move comes weeks after a Minneapolis Star Tribune series exposed widespread elder abuse in Minnesota nursing care facilities that for years was systematically ignored.

All too frequently, complaints were thrown away without people conducting even a preliminary investigation. Frankly, I’m skeptical that anything meaningful will happen this year. It isn’t that I’m skeptical of Pollock. It’s that I’m skeptical that they can pull together the investigators and other resources in time to make a difference. How do you change a culture like this?

This isn’t just about investigating. It’s about firing people who are put in charge of caring for people that can’t care for themselves who aren’t interested in caring for the people they’re charged with caring for. Frankly, in this instance, it’s about charging them with crimes, too.

Simply put, this is what’s wrong with facilities that aren’t interested in providing professional care to its patients. Further, I don’t trust Gov. Dayton’s appointees at this point anymore. Too frequently, they’re political allies rather than qualified people.

Friday night, after reading this article, I spoke with State Sen. Karin Housley, (R- St. Mary’s Point) about this scandal. Sen. Housley is the “chairwoman of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee.”

First, the article startled me when it reported that “the health department investigated 10% of the 3,400 complaints it received about public nursing homes and home-care treatment. In 2016, just 1% of nearly 21,000 cases were investigated through on-site investigations when facilities self-reported incidents.” That information broke my heart.

In our conversation, Sen. Housley said “Since January, I have been working as the Chairwoman of the Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee to better understand the problems at the Office of Health Facility Complaints and what the legislature can do to help remedy those issues. While more funds were allocated to the OHFC last session at request of the Governor and the office itself, the problems have unfortunately not improved. It is clear to me, and it is becoming clear to the people of Minnesota, that there are systemic issues within the Minnesota Department of Health and the Office of Health Facility Complaints that need to be addressed before real change can take place. I called on the Governor and the Department of Health Commissioner Ehlinger to give us answers. The recent resignation of Commissioner Ehlinger is a positive first step toward achieving that change. I am hopeful that with legislative action and continued oversight, we can start to make progress and ensure that Minnesota’s most vulnerable are protected.”

Sen. Housley then directed me to the statement she issued after Dr. Ed Ehlinger resigned as the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health. Here’s that statement:

SAINT PAUL, MN – Following Tuesday’s resignation of Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Senator Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point) issued the following statement:

“It is abundantly clear there is an urgent need for systemic changes in Governor Dayton’s health department. For months, we have been hearing horrifying tales of abuse and neglect at Minnesota senior care facilities, complaints being thrown in the trash at the hands of an ineffective bureaucracy, and a climate of intimidation and harassment in this state agency.

There is no question – this change in leadership is desperately needed.

While the resignation of Commissioner Ehlinger is a step forward, there is much work to do to restore the trust of the most vulnerable Minnesotans. I look forward to working with Acting Commissioner Dan Pollock in examining ways to move forward in making absolutely certain our elderly population is cared for with the dignity, compassion, and respect they deserve.

My commitment is to not stop until we achieve meaningful change, as well as justice for the victims of the shameful negligence that has plagued our state for too long.

Senator Karin Housley

It’s clear to me that Sen. Housley won’t let go of this issue until it’s fixed. It’s equally apparent that the Dayton administration, of which Tina Smith is an integral part, isn’t ready for primetime. This has been a problem for quite some time. Why Gov. Dayton didn’t assign a troubleshooter to fix this 2-3 years ago is beyond me. Lt. Gov. Smith was Gov. Dayton’s chief of staff in his first term. Why didn’t she bring this crisis up at the time? This is inexcusable.

Reading this article, I’m left wondering what planet Gov. Dayton is living on:

During his tenure as Commissioner of Health, Dr. Ehlinger made many great strides to improve the health and wellbeing of Minnesotans. Commissioner Ehlinger led the charge to reduce tobacco use, improve community-based health programs through the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP), improve health equity in our communities, and expand access to life-saving health care for Minnesotans. Dr. Ehlinger also helped lead the state through outbreaks of measles and avian influenza, and led the state’s response to the global threat of Ebola.

It isn’t that I want to diminish Dr. Ehlinger’s accomplishments. It’s that I find it difficult to buy into the notion that “Dr. Ehlinger made many great strides to improve the health and wellbeing of Minnesotans” after finding out that his Department ignored piles of complaints of patient abuse.

According to this article, a series of articles on elder abuse in the Strib has Gov. Dayton incensed. As a result of these articles, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, now Minnesota’s former Health Commissioner, resigned his position.

I was stunned when I read “Ehlinger’s resignation comes after media reports, including a five-part series in the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune, found residents of senior care facilities statewide were neglected, abused and robbed, but the perpetrators were often never punished and in most instances complaints were never properly investigated. The state Department of Health is responsible for licensing and oversight of senior care centers.”

It’s fair to ask what responsibility Tina Smith has in this. Smith will soon move on from her job as Lt. Gov. Prior to that, though, she was Gov. Dayton’s Chief-of-Staff, the gatekeeper to the governor, the attention-to-detail person. According to MPR’s article, “The move comes weeks after a Minneapolis Star Tribune series exposed widespread elder abuse in Minnesota nursing care facilities that for years was systematically ignored.” This wasn’t something that started recently. It sounds like it’s been happening since Gov. Dayton took over as governor and Smith took over as his Chief of Staff.

They’re the team that’s responsible for making sure that these facilities are operating smoothly. These facilities are part of the Executive Branch, meaning the proverbial buck stops with them. Instead of discovering and fixing these facilities problems, elderly people “were neglected, abused and robbed.” In some cases, “the perpetrators were often never punished and in most instances complaints were never properly investigated.”

By comparison, Karin Housley, the “chairwoman of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee,” has “called for an investigation into management practices at the Health Department after receiving reports of bullying at the agency.” Sen. Housley has officially announced that she’s running in the 2018 special election for Sen. Franken’s seat. The question before Minnesotans is whether Minnesotans can trust a person who was in a position of authority and either did nothing or knew nothing (Lt. Gov. Smith) about the elder abuse or whether they’d prefer a state senator who initiated an investigation into this scandal the minute she found out about it.

This information is frightening:

A Minnesota lawmaker says a state manager whose bureau oversees investigations into abuse and neglect in nursing homes was fired after she blew the whistle on a “toxic culture” that was an obstacle to ensuring that officials do a better job protecting residents of senior care facilities.

Who fired this whistleblower? What motivated that person to terminate the whistleblower right before the whistleblower was about to “meet with an investigator looking into widespread reported problems with how Minnesota investigates reports of elder abuse, including assault, neglect and theft.”

Let’s think about this a minute. “Nancy Omondi was fired days before she was to meet with an investigator looking into widespread reported problems with how Minnesota investigates” elder abuse. This reeks of high-level political cover-up. How high this goes is unknowable at this point. Still, Ms. Omandi held a high-ranking position:

According to state records, Omondi was employed from Sept. 19, 2016, to Nov. 29, 2017, as director of the Health Regulation Division. The division oversees several bureaus, including the Health Systems Bureau, which oversees the Office of Health Facilities Complaints, the office that investigates reports of abuse and neglect against patients and residents of care facilities.

What’s amazing is that this organizational chart already reflects the fact that Ms. Omondi was fired. The organizational chart is updated in a timely fashion but reports of abuse literally went years in some instances without getting investigated.

At the end of the video, the KARE11 reporter said that more transparency is needed. The reporter also said that what’s needed is a change in the culture of the investigative bodies. It’s impossible to argue with either statement.

If there wasn’t video of Suzanne Malveaux saying it, I wouldn’t have believed she’d said something so stupid. During Ms. Malveaux’s reporting, she stated “Make no mistake about this. This is very similar to what we saw in 2010 with Democrats and Obamacare, which was highly unpopular and it was along partisan lines, many people, including Nancy Pelosi, saying that they hadn’t read the bill in its entirety. Well, now Republicans, they too are looking at this very unpopular legislation, are making the case that as more people learn more about it, or see or feel the effects of it, the more that they will approve or like it.”

With all due respect to Ms. Malveaux, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act is virtually totally dissimilar from the ACA. With the ACA, the government told people that they had to either buy a product they didn’t choose to buy or they’d pay a fine for not buying a product they didn’t want to buy. With these tax cuts, the government is telling people that they can keep more of the money that they earned. I’d love hearing Ms. Malveaux explain how being told that you can keep the money you earned is the same as being told that you have to spend the money you’ve earned in a way that the government tells you to spend it.

Like I said, they’re virtually opposites.

Meanwhile, Democrats are betting that the media’s biased reporting will create a wave that will help them win back a majority in either the House or Senate. That’s a terrible bet:

The passage of an unpopular GOP tax bill going into a hostile midterm election rings with discomforting familiarity. It’s 2010 all over again, but in a starkly reverse image.

In August, 2009, the American people showed up at town hall meetings and told Democrats not to pass the ACA. When did anyone show up at a taxes town hall and do this?

It didn’t happen with taxes. It repeatedly happened with Obamacare. Again, the comparisons are ridiculous. Later, at the same townhall meeting, this young lady spoke:

Then Steve Israel said this:

Having failed to pass any significant measures to excite their base, Republicans are caught between probably losing their majority next year by passing no bill and possibly losing their majority next year by passing a bad bill. It’s a dangerous midterm calculation when you have to throw a bone to your base that a broad majority of voters are choking on.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind people that Israel chaired the DCCC in 2012 and 2014. Those weren’t great years for Democrats so his analysis isn’t bulletproof by any stretch. Finally, there’s this:

In March 2010, there was explosive applause on the House floor when ObamaCare passed. In the Members Only elevator returning us to our offices, Republicans had Cheshire Cat grins. They knew that we may have won the legislative battle, but we may have lost our majority.

Republicans knew in 2009 that Democrats had lost their majority. I remember talking with Michael Barone about how the polling hadn’t moved much since August, 2009. Sure, there were some ups and downs but they weren’t high highs, just extremely low lows for Democrats. We haven’t seen anything like that this cycle.

Further, Republicans had a positive agenda to run on in 2010. Democrats are still fighting amongst themselves about whether impeaching President Trump is enough or whether they need a socialist economic message needs to be included. Whichever direction Democrats take, they’ll be forced to take an unpopular path to the majority.

This morning, I received an email from Karin Housley announcing that she’s running for the seat that Sen. Franken currently occupies. Ms. Housley’s email says “Today I am writing to you to announce I am running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Al Franken, and I am looking for your endorsement. Growing up in a working class neighborhood in South St. Paul, I met my husband Phil, and we got married after high school. We’ve been so lucky to have four fun kids, a son-in-law and two grandsons. It has been an honor to serve in the Minnesota State Senate since 2012. I’ve fought hard for our senior citizens, our kids’ education and the unborn. I worked tirelessly writing, supporting and passing bills to help our small businesses. I fought to keep your hard-earned dollars in your own pocket. And, I’ve called on government to be transparent and accountable. Please visit my website housleyforsenate.com to learn more, join the team or contribute. I would love to represent you and be a New Voice for Minnesota in the United States Senate. I’ll bring this same Minnesota work ethic to DC and I’ll work hard, play fair, and do the right thing.”

Mrs. Housley’s opening campaign ad is impressive because it’s positive:

When elder care facilities whistleblowers reported that complaints of abuse were getting thrown in the trash, Karin Housley called attention to the problem:

Last week Sen. Karin Housley, chairwoman of the Senate Aging and Long-Term Care Policy Committee, and two other lawmakers called for an investigation into management practices at the Health Department after receiving reports of bullying at the agency.

Tina Smith was part of the administration that turned a blind eye towards the abuse happening at elder care facilities. Now she’s pretending to care about this issue? Give me a break. Here’s what Smith ignored:

In interviews with the Star Tribune, employees described an office so overwhelmed by backlogged cases that workers dumped dozens of maltreatment complaints into recycling bins without reading them. Others said unread complaint forms piled up into stacks 2 feet high and went unexamined for months.

At one point, employees said, they were ordered to stop making phone calls to elderly victims and other individuals who reported nursing home abuse because it was too time-consuming. But that only angered families, hindered investigations and subverted office morale, they said.

It’s safe to say that Gov. Dayton wouldn’t pay attention to this sort of thing. He’s had a history of not knowing what’s happening within his government. He didn’t know the tax bill he and Tina negotiated had a sales tax on repairing farm equipment. Gov. Dayton and Tina didn’t know that the Vikings Stadium bill had a provision in it for personal seat licenses.

Why would we now think that Tina Smith paid attention to utter dysfunction at elder care facilities? We don’t need a career politician in DC. We’ve already got too many of those parasites there now. That’s why DC is so dysfunctional. We need someone who has a history of accomplishment in the private sector. That’s Karin Housley, not Tina Smith.

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If there’s a bunch of people who hate individual choice more than anti-smoking activists, I don’t know who it’d be. The people who hate letting people choose their actions have recently gotten their way in Plymouth, St. Louis Park, Bloomington and Edina.

They’re waging a coordinated campaign happening to raise the age that people can purchase cigarettes. Joel Spoonheim, director of health promotion at Health Partners, spilled the beans when he said “The most powerful tool that we have to prevent this very difficult, expensive, life-threatening addiction is to raise the age to 21.” Later in the article, he said “Almost 95 percent of addicted smokers begin lighting up before their 21st birthday, citing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

What Mr. Spoonheim likely won’t say is what percentage of those addicted smokers started before they’re 18. I don’t have anything except anecdotal information but I’m betting the percentage of addicted smokers among 15-17 year-olds makes up a significant percentage of those who are addicted by age 21. The reason that’s important is because smoking under the age of 18 is already prohibited.

The thing these idiots aren’t focused on is the real driver of this non-problem, namely demand. It’s impossible to stop supply. Outlawing an activity didn’t work with marijuana. Prohibition of alcohol didn’t stop drinking. It just forced people to find different suppliers.

According to the CDC’s statistics, the percentage of adults addicted to smoking in 1965 was 42.4%. By 1990, that percentage dropped to 25.5%. The next year, the CDC started publishing statistics on “students”. In 1991, the percentage of students smoking was 27.5%. In 2013, that percentage had dropped to 15.7%. This chart is worth 1,000 words:

According to the CDC’s chart, we’ve already achieved our goals for 2020. This is interesting, too:

As of Plymouth’s November decision, the country has nearly 275 towns in 18 different states with a tobacco sale age of 21, according to advocacy group ClearWay Minnesota. Edina voted to raise its minimum age in May, St. Louis Park voted in July, and Bloomington in early November. Detroit Lakes, in northwest Minnesota, was in the news in September when a proposed ordinance to raise the age to 21 was shot down, with members of the public voicing concerns that vapor-inhaling products were included in the ban. In November, St. Cloud approved raising the age to buy tobacco, but the mayor vetoed it. Mankato and North Mankato talked about an ordinance last summer and plan to take up the issue next year.

Other communities have expressed interest in pursuing ordinances. They range from metro-area communities to places in Greater Minnesota, Moilanen said. She declined to list specific cities, saying that she doesn’t want opposition to launch counter-campaigns before those considerations become public.

In other words, Ms. Moilanen doesn’t want a fair fight, most likely because she thinks it’s a fight she can’t win. Notice, too, that none of these ordinances prohibit smoking under the age of 21. They just raise the age when stores can sell to young people.

Let’s be clear about this. It isn’t provable that raising the age to 21 will have a positive effect on stopping smoking addiction, though that’s certainly what ClearWay will insist happen. The percentage of young people who smoke is already dropping. What verifiable information will ClearWay be able to provide that shows raising the age mattered one iota?