Archive for June, 2013

Saturday afternoon was a special afternoon for Kyle Gibson, the Twins’ highly touted rookie righthander. Making his major league debut against Kansas City, Gibson’s first pitch was hit by Alex Gordon. The good news for Gibson is that Oswaldo made a nice catch down the left field line. One pitch, one out. Two pitches later, Gibson got another out, this time on a routine grounder to Brian Dozier. After a line drive single by Eric Hosmer, Gibson faced Kansas City’s Twin-killer, Billy Butler.

Butler entered the game with 14 hits in 27 at-bats against the Twins this season. Gibson got ahead on 2 breaking pitches away. After another pitch, this time a ball, Gibson struck out Butler on a nasty 94 mph fastball that ran in on Butler’s hands.

After getting out of the inning, an inning where he threw 13 pitches, 10 for strikes, Twins hitters staked Gibson to a 5-0 lead. Justin Morneau doubled in Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier, who had walked. Trevor Plouffe, the Twins DH, fouled off several 3-2 pitches before hitting his sixth homer of the season.

Staked to a big first inning lead, Gibson did what he’s done his entire career, attack the strike zone. Though he gave up 2 runs in the third, Gibson dominated the Royals, striking out 5 while giving up 8 hits in 6 strong innings.

What Twins fans saw Saturday was a poised power pitcher. They saw a young man whose fastball topped out at 94 mph most of the day. They saw his nasty slider and an effective change-up. At 6-foot-6, they also saw a power pitcher who throws a straight over-the-top 2-seamer.

It’s foolish to predict what type of career he’ll have with the Twins. That said, it’s clear he’s got some tools that Twins faithful haven’t seen in a pitcher. It’s also foolish to think the Twins will catch the Tigers this year. They’ll likely be sellers as the trade deadline approaches.

Those in the know think the 2015 Twins will be a very good team. By then, the Twins rotation will be anchored by Alex Meyer, Travis May and Mr. Gibson. By then, Miguel Sano will likely be the Twins third baseman and Byron Buxton will be the Twins starting centerfielder.

Saturday afternoon, Twins fans got a brief glimpse of that future. By next season, they might be looking at more of that future. That works with me.

This morning, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted that Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment protections by verifying the authenticity of a document:

Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted along party lines Friday morning, with 22 Republicans saying she waived the Fifth and 17 Democrats arguing she did not. Lerner remains under subpoena, and the committee believes it could bring the long-time IRS official back and compel her to testify.

The dynamics have definitely shifted in this investigation. Democrats who first expressed outrage at the IRS’s criminal activities now are making political statements to rationalize their votes. This statement is a perfect example of the shift:

Democrats, meanwhile, like Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., challenged Gowdy’s argument, calling attempts to block Lerner’s invoking of the Fifth Amendment “an egregious abuse of power that tramples the Constitution and serves no valid legislative purpose.”

Connolly said that “the majority has brought us to a point where we risk allowing this committee to be transformed into a Star Chamber proceeding that establishes future Legislative Branch precedent where any chairman, whether a Democrat or a Republican, is free to compel an American invoking their constitutional right against self-incrimination to physically appear before the Committee for no other reason than to be pilloried, delayed, embarrassed, and burdened into unknowingly, unintentionally, and ironically, forfeiting the very sacred constitutional right that is intended to protect every American against forced self-incrimination by the government.”

Meanwhile, Republicans like Trey Gowdy are making statements based on the legal system:

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., reiterated Issa’s argument, delivering a fiery speech about Lerner’s attempt to protect herself under the Fifth.

Gowdy said Lerner made nine separate assertions, with the advice of counsel, and then authenticated a document. “That’s not how the Fifth Amendment works,” Gowdy said. “You’re not allowed to just say your side of the story…She could have sat there and said nothing.”

Rep. Connolly is acting like a partisan. Rep. Gowdy is acting like a former U.S. attorney, which is what he is. What’s more is that Rep. Gowdy has famed defense attorney and Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz on his side:

“She’s in trouble. She can be held in contempt,” Dershowitz told “the Steve Malzberg Show” on Newsmax TV. “”You can’t simply make statements about a subject and then plead the Fifth in response to questions about the very same subject,” the renowned Harvard Law professor said.

“Once you open the door to an area of inquiry, you have waived your Fifth Amendment right…you’ve waived your self-incrimination right on that subject matter.”

Dershowitz knows what he’s talking about on this subject. He’s literally written a book on the Fifth Amendment. If Rep. Conolly wants to argue that Dershowitz, a lifelong liberal, is saying this to curry favor with Republicans, I’d love hearing that argument.

Democrats are playing a terrible situation poorly. What Rep. Connolly said is foolish. Republicans didn’t put Ms. Lerner in a difficult position. She put herself in this difficult position by testifying. Had she started by saying she was invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, this vote wouldn’t have happened. That’s what Rep. Gowdy said this morning:

Follow this link for more on this story.

Earlier this week, Acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel told reporters that progressive groups were also targeted and that the IRS hadn’t done anything wrong. This article quotes the TIGTA (Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration) as disputing Werfel’s statement. First, here’s what Werfel told reporters:

In a conference call with reporters, Werfel said an internal investigation of the IRS scandal, the findings of which were released Monday afternoon, had unearthed other instances in which “Be On The Look Out” (BOLO) lists were used. He has since ended the use of the tactic, he said, calling the screening criteria used in these other instances “inappropriate.”

“When I got to the IRS, we started a more comprehensive review of the operations of this part of the IRS, have been looking at documents and business operations, and we did determine and discover that there are other BOLO lists in place,” Werfel said. “And upon discovering that, we also found that we believed there continued to be inappropriate or questionable criteria on these BOLO lists. Once we came to that conclusion, we took immediate action to suspend the use of these lists in the exempt organizations unit within the IRS.”

I was skeptical of Werfel’s statement at the time. The IG’s testimony shows I was justified in that skepticism:

The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration (TIGTA) sent a letter Wednesday to congressional Democrats telling them that while several liberal groups may have gotten extra scrutiny, the IRS didn’t necessarily target those — but it did do so for conservative groups.

“TIGTA concluded that inappropriate criteria were used to identify potential political cases for extra scrutiny — specifically, the criteria listed in our audit report. From our audit work, we did not find evidence that the criteria you identified, labeled “Progressives,” were used by the IRS to select potential political cases during the 2010 to 2012 timeframe we audited,” Inspector General J. Russell George said.

In total, 292 organizations with TEA Party in their names were targeted. A paltry 6 organizations with progressive in their names got additional scrutiny.That’s only part of the story. The 6 organizations with progressive in their names still got their status approved within the prescribed timeline. More than 50 TEA Party organizations have been waiting for over 3 years for approval as a 501(c)(4) organization.

In short, Commissioner Werfel lied in saying the IRS’s conduct wasn’t improper or illegal:

Though he acknowledged that his investigation remains incomplete, Werfel said that he had yet to uncover evidence of intentional wrongdoing by IRS officials when applying these BOLOs. Nor had he found instances in which outside actors, mainly the Obama campaign and administration, had pressured the tax agency to target conservative groups.

“The fact that no evidence is surfacing as wrongdoing is an important conclusion to reach as long as it is qualified by the fact that more reviews are underway,” Werfel said, when pressed by The Huffington Post as to why he was making statements that could later be contradicted by the findings of additional investigations. “And so, I’ll be as clear as I can right now. I’m not providing a definitive conclusion that no intentional wrongdoing occurred. But I’m suggesting that based on the ongoing reviews to date, no evidence has yet surfaced.”

If Werfel doesn’t think that targeting 292 TEA Party organizations to 6 progressive organizations isn’t proof of intentional wrongdoing, then he should be fired ASAP. That’s proof he’s either incapable of being honest or he’s incapable of recognizing reality.

In either case, he isn’t the right man to restore integrity to the IRS.

Wednesday afternoon on America Live with Megyn Kelly, Juan Williams went off the deep end. In fact, he went off the really deep end. Megyn invited him on the show to debate Marc Thiessen about President Obama’s war on coal agenda.

First, Thiessen said that this isn’t about controlling pollution, citing this administration’s report showing that CO2 emissions are the same today as they were in 1992. It’s at that point when Megyn asked why President Obama was implementing this agenda without the consent of Congress.

Williams responded, first saying that people had a right to breath, then saying “We can’t let politics interfere” with people’s right to breath.

That’s the definition of an imperial president. The Founding Fathers wanted politics to “interfere” with the president’s agenda. That’s why they wrote a Constitution filled with checks and balances. That’s why they chose a republic, not a democracy. As we saw in Minnesota this year, democracy can be hijacked by mob rule. Mob rule isn’t any better than letting a tyrant king issue edicts from his throne.

If the minority doesn’t have a say in governing and policymaking, the results head south quickly.

What’s particularly stunning is that Williams was foolish enough to admit he, along with other Democrats, love governing through presidential fiat rather than working with Republicans.

That’s the worst of it. That isn’t the only negative part of this. Williams is okay with President Obama fundamentally changing the US economy without congressional input. President Obama’s war on coal will kill the economies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Indiana.

Juan Williams and like-minded Democrats don’t have a problem with President Obama killing those states’ economies in the name of the environment and public health. In their minds, statistics aren’t important. The Democrats’ agenda is everything to these imperialists.

The Constitution doesn’t allow for that. The people are ill-served by government by executive fiat. In short, there’s nothing positive about Williams’ worldview.

While trying his best to put out the fire caused by his tweet calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Rep. Winkler’s attempt at damage control is pathetic at best. Based on his quote in this article, Rep. Ryan Winkler doesn’t think people should judge him by words he said were made in haste:

Asked if he believes his use of the term on social media will hurt his future political career, he said: “I don’t know. I hope people judge people on the merits of what they do in public office and not on the firestorm of a term that is used hastily but with no malintent.”

The thing is that most of Rep. Winkler’s statements are flippant, spur-of-the-moment comments. Few of his statements are thoroughly thought through. Few of his statements are taken seriously in terms of policy. That type of statement is part of his hit-and-run tactics of communicating. (Some might say he’s better at agitating than at communicating.)

Still, that isn’t the most cringe-worthy statement in the article. This is:

Winkler, who had been considering a bid for secretary of state, has called off his plans. He said it was a decision he made before “Uncle Thomas” started trending on Twitter and making headlines around the country, although not one he had voiced publicly.

I can smell the stench from that BS in St. Cloud, which is amazing considering it was made in St. Louis Park, more than 50 miles away.

The reality is that Rep. Winkler’s tweet ended Rep. Winkler’s bid for higher office in the future. I don’t think Rep. Winkler hates minorities, though I agree with much of what Michelle Malkin wrote in this article:

This Ivy League-trained public official and attorney relied on smug bigotry to make his case against a Supreme Court justice who happens to be black. “Uncle Thomas” wasn’t a typo. Denigration was the goal, not an accident. It was a knowing, deliberate smear.

While I don’t think Rep. Winkler hates people of color, I think he’s been exposed as a less-than-serious politician who lives by the code ready — fire — aim.

Rep. Winkler can now join Tarryl Clark in living in anonymity after supposedly being the DFL’s rising star.

Prior to his putting his political foot in his mouth, Rep. Ryan Winkler was just an obnoxious liberal who thought of himself as a rising star in the DFL. Yesterday morning, Rep. Winkler put his foot into his mouth bigtime. This tweet touched off a firestorm:

Instead of quitting while he was behind, Rep. Winkler thought it’d be best to issue this non-apology apology:

“I did not understand ‘Uncle Tom’ as a racist term, and there seems to be some debate about it. I do apologize for it, however,” he said.

That’s BS. Rep. Winkler graduated with a B.A. in history from Harvard University in 1998. If Rep. Winkler thinks that we’ll buy the fact that he didn’t learn about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s classic from 1852, he’d better think again. Allan West, the former congressman from Florida, isn’t buying Rep. Winkler’s BS:

Former Rep. Allen West, a prominent black Republican, poured scorn on Mr. Winkler’s explanation and said the lawmaker should resign, noting the precedent of cooking-show host Paula Deen being fired and losing endorsement deals for admitting long-ago use of racial epithets.

“If Paula Deen must resign so should MN Rep Winkler. Didn’t know Uncle Tom is a racist slur? I’m sick of liberal hypocrisy,” he said on his Twitter account.

I don’t think Winkler is a racist. That said, Rep. Winkler has a reputation of speaking first, thinking later. He’s earned the reputation of being a loose cannon who says lippy things that he thinks fires up the DFL base. Saying that he isn’t particularly well-respected on policy issues is understatement.

Prior to Tuesday morning, Rep. Winkler had been thinking about running for Minnesota Secretary of State. Those plans died abruptly in less than 140 characters.

When the Senate votes on the immigration bill, they’ll be voting for a 1,200 page monstrosity. They won’t be voting on a solution to the immigration problem. Unserious politicians like Harry Reid, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin, John Hoeven and Bob Corker will say that their bill is the solution but it isn’t. I wrote about it in this post. John Hinderaker wrote about the bill’s glaring shortcomings in this post. Thankfully, Greta van Susteren wrote the outline to a true immigration solution in this post:

1/ PROBLEM: every day we get people entering the USA illegally (or staying beyond visas – I will get to this later.)

SIMPLE SOLUTION: SEAL THE BORDERS. Don’t tell me we don’t have the money – we do. We can stop doing stupid thinks like the IRS, in just 2 years, spending $50 million on conferences involving line dancing and trinkets. (They don’t have receipts for the other years and you can expect the same absurd waste.) We can sell empty government buildings (the number of buildings is staggering!) and everyone, including the President, can tighten the belt (is this really the right time to be going to Africa to the tune of $60-100 million dollars?) Cost overruns and waste at the Pentagon are breathtakingly large…and I could go on and on and on. We just need to start being smart about our money.

We can figure out how to seal the borders (it just isn’t that hard!) and we can afford it.

Greta’s post highlights the problem. Money isn’t the problem. Political will is the problem.

2/ PROBLEM: What about the 11 MILLION IN THE USA ILLEGALLY NOW? If you speak to the 11 million, you know their big fear and that is that ICE will deport them. That is what THEY want solved.

SIMPLE SOLUTION: give them green cards (we already know how to do that and have a mechanism) but make them ineligible for citizenship since there should be some price for violating our laws. They can stay and work forever and be good neighbors with green cards, but they can’t be citizens for violating our immigration law and then getting lucky.

This is sensible. If people knowingly came to the US illegally, they shouldn’t have a path to citizenship.

ICE is criticizing the Corker-Hoeven amendment:

After Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) admitted the amendment he and Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) offered to the immigration bill will not improve immigration law enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) National Council president Chris Crane told Breitbart News he is shocked lawmakers would still want to pass the bill.

“So that’s the answer from U.S. Senators,” Crane, an ICE agent and a former Marine, told Breitbart News exclusively on Sunday morning. “They know the bill is bad but plan to pass it anyway? With billions of taxpayer dollars to be spent and the safety of the public on the line, Senators plan to pass the buck to the House with hopes they might fix it? Anti-enforcement special interests have succeeded in pressuring the Senate from doing what’s best for America. This is why America has lost faith in its lawmakers.”

Crane is right. This bill is fatally flawed. It doesn’t secure the border. It isn’t that it doesn’t secure it enough. It’s that it doesn’t secure the border. Period.

Finally, Hugh Hewitt is right about this:

If the answer is “We don’t want to waste money on unnecessary double fencing,” my response is that the bill should die because the amendments’ sponsors simply do not understand the importance of this provision and thus have no real intention of meeting the demands of the border-security conservatives. Fence-proponents do not care about a few more hundreds of millions or even billions, and they really don’t believe that cost is driving the opposition.

I and almost every double-sided fence-advocate I know or have talked with don’t trust anyone in D.C. to do anything not specifically written into the law and done so with exacting detail. In fact, they believe every authority to water down border security will in fact be employed –as has been the case since 2006. This is the rational, indeed compelling attitude to have towards this draft law: The rhetoric about it means nothing. The legislative language means everything.

Why would we trust the government at this point? More to the point: Why would we trust Chuck Schumer, Lindsey Graham, Harry Reid, Janet Napolitano and Bob Corker? I wouldn’t trust those people if my life depended on it.

Why would anyone trust Janet Napolitano on building the fence? Apparently, there’s a bunch of idiots masquerading as GOP senators who think she can be trusted to build the fence. Chief among these idiots are Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Marco Rubio, Bob Corker and John Hoeven.

What’s appalling is that Lindsey Graham was foolish enough to say that the bill’s security measures are better than he could’ve imagined. While that might be true, that’s only testimony to the fact that Sen. Graham sets a low bar to be impressed with. Check out Matthew Boyle’s article to see what’s allowed:

On page 35, line 24 of the new bill, a provision was inserted that says Napolitano–who already believes the border is secure–can decide against building a fence if she chooses not to erect one:

Notwithstanding paragraph (1), nothing in this subsection shall require the Secretary to install fencing, or infrastructure that directly results from the installation of such fencing, in a particular location along the Southern border, if the Secretary determines that the use or placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the Southern border at such location.

This should be a poison pill for Republicans. Sen. Graham, however, thinks it’s reasonable because requiring a border fence is a deal breaker with Democrats. I think that’s spin. I’d bet they’d cave if Republicans forced them to defend against securing the border first.

Let’s suppose I’m wrong, though. Let’s suppose that it’s a deal breaker with Democrats. That’s fine. If they want the US-Mexican border to be as secure as the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, let them defend that position. I’d love hearing Sen. Schumer and Sen. Reid explain why a fence isn’t needed to secure the border.

Personally, I’d love to see Sen. Graham get defeated in a primary, preferably by Rep. Trey Gowdy. It’s one thing to have a big tent party. It’s quite another to have politicians who cave and give their opponents everything they wanted from the start.

This is nothing more than Simpson-Mazoli, Part II. It doesn’t stop illegal immigration. It helps import tons of low-skill, low-wage illegal immigrants into the United States at a time when unemployment is still high, wages are stagnant and the economy is still struggling.

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.

This NRO article is both maddening and frightening:

Perhaps a suddenly firearm-friendly President Obama can put in a good word for Jared Marcum. In April, Marcum, an eighth-grader at Logan Middle School in Logan, W. Va., was arrested when he refused to take off his NRA t-shirt. The New York Daily News reports:

The clothing kerfuffle began when Marcum wore a shirt bearing the NRA’s logo and a hunting rifle. As he stood in line in the cafeteria, a teacher ordered him to either change shirts or turn it inside out.

Marcum declined and was sent to the office, where an officer was dispatched after he again refused to comply with the school’s request.

Cops arrested him and charged him with disrupting the educational process and obstructing an officer.

The teacher who told Marcum he shouldn’t wear the t-shirt apparently doesn’t care about the First Amendment. It’s pretty clear that the teacher doesn’t like the Second Amendment, either. With that in mind, perhaps this teacher should learn from people smarter than him. I’d submit that this young lady could teach this teacher a ton about the Constitution:

First, the school didn’t have the right to tell the student he couldn’t wear that t-shirt. The First Amendment trumps everything else. That should be case closed.

Second, this teacher should be disciplined for teaching a student through his actions that the Constitution should be ignored. After that, this student should put the fear of God into this teacher and the school district for violating this student’s constitutional rights.