Archive for December, 2017

Bret Stephens’ misguided thinking is on full display in this column. The fatal flaw in his thinking comes when he said “This is the fatal mistake of conservatives who’ve decided the best way to deal with Trump’s personality — the lying, narcissism, bullying, bigotry, crassness, name calling, ignorance, paranoia, incompetence and pettiness, is to pretend it doesn’t matter. “Character Doesn’t Count” has become a de facto G.O.P. motto. ‘Virtue Doesn’t Matter’ might be another.”

That’s badly misreading tons of Republicans’ thinking. The 2016 election was, in terms of integrity, a choice between the lesser of 2 evils. It isn’t that we didn’t recognize Donald Trump’s character flaws. It’s that we noticed that Hillary Clinton’s character imperfections were pretty disgusting, too.

To Mr. Stephens: when I’m left with a choice between a man with character flaws who appoints conservative judges, cuts taxes and regulations and stands up to the DC Swamp, vs. the woman who personifies the DC Swamp and the failed status quo, I’ll vote for the flawed man who appoints conservative judges every time because 7 years from now, we can hopefully elect a man or woman of integrity but we can’t get back those judicial appointments. When I think of Neil Gorsuch, I smile:

This shows why I don’t agree with Mr. Stephens:

Trump is normalizing all this; he is, to borrow another Moynihan phrase, “defining deviancy down.” A president who supposedly wants to put a wall between the U.S. and Latin America has imported a style of politics reminiscent of the cults of Juan Perón and Hugo Chávez.

Seriously? Stephens thinks that President Trump is the same as Hugo Chávez? That’s frightening.

I’ve agreed with a number of President Trump’s policies without hesitation. I won’t say that I’ve always appreciated the things he’s tweeted. Unlike Mr. Stephens, I’m perfectly capable of differentiating between policy and behavior.

Minnesota’s story of the year isn’t difficult to find. It’s Al Franken’s resignation from the Senate. Pervy Al, as Harold Hamilton likes to call him, finally showed that he’s a total jerk. Thanks to Leeann Tweeden’s bravery, Franken’s career crashed as part of this year’s #MeToo movement.

The initial reaction was typified by Amy Klobuchar and Chuck Schumer. They both said that Sen. Franken should subject himself to a toothless investigation from the Senate Ethics Committee. The rules of the Ethics Committee are toothless because they’re written by the politicians they’re meant to protect. They do just enough to whitewash the situation without actually holding the corrupt politician accountable for his/her actions. Those rules also make sure that politicians can’t be punished for things they did before they were elected.

How convenient. Pervy Al groped Ms. Tweeden before getting elected:

What type of pervert does that to a woman? Better yet, what woman not named Hillary Clinton, lets her husband do something like that without divorcing him? The next stage of the Franken saga happened when other women stepped forward and spoke about Franken’s disgusting behavior. One of them, Lindsay Menz, accused him of grabbing her buttocks at the Minnesota State Fair.

Yet another stage in the Franken saga came when Democrats criticized Ms. Tweeden, essentially deploying the ‘she asked for it’ defense:

In response to the compromising photo of U.S. Sen. Al Franken, internet-aware readers can become a bit more informed about Franken’s ‘victim’ by Googling her and clicking on ‘images.’

At times, Democrats tried telling Americans that they were virtuous because they maintained a zero-tolerance policy towards perverts. Somewhere far outside the spotlight, Bill Clinton was heard laughing. Of course, Democrats called for Franken’s resignation after the eighth woman stepped forward. (Nothing says zero tolerance like waiting until the eighth victim steps forward.) People understood what was happening. Franken was forced to resign.

Good riddance.

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When the stories are written about Minnesota’s sports stories of the year, the Minnesota Twins going from being the worst team in baseball to being a playoff team will certainly be mentioned. In 2016, the Twins finished with a major league worst 59 wins. When this year finished, the Twins had lost to the New York Yankees in a 1-game playoff. The difference between 2016 and 2017 was the coming-of-age of the Twins young stars. Early on, the difference-maker was Miguel Sano. Sano’s homers, like Harmon’s, stayed hit:

The Twins developed an identity of being one of the best defensive teams in baseball. Joe Mauer played Gold Glove defense at first base but wasn’t rewarded. Brian Dozier had an outstanding season defensively and won a Gold Glove for his defense at second base. It was Byron Buxton, though, who led the defense, becoming the first Twin to win the Major League Defensive Player of the Year, thanks to catches that left Twins fans speechless. This catch topped the list:

This was special, too:

Another great sports story is still getting written in US Bank Stadium. In 2016, the Vikings were decimated by injuries. They lost Teddy Bridgewater a week before the season. The offensive line went from a next-man-up mentality to a last-man-standing proposition. Despite that, the Vikings finished 8-8. This year, the Vikings lost their starting QB after an opening game victory. They lost Dalvin Cook during the 4th game of the season. After 4 games, the Vikings owned a 2-2 record. Then they ripped off an 8-game winning streak. This afternoon, they’ll try to finish off a 13-3 regular season. Vikings fans are hoping to finish off cheering for the Vikings in the last game of the 2017 playoffs (in US Bank Stadium.)

The Vikings offense has been fun to watch but the Vikings’ defense has dominated. Defensive end Everson Griffen dominated early. Harrison Smith, aka Harry the Hitman, flashed his skills from time to time. Xavier Rhodes, aka Rhodes Closed, was sterling throughout. We won’t forget this diving, one-handed interception by Smith:

We won’t forget this game-finishing interception, either:

The Vikings are the definition of a team. What other team’s fans would give the back-up quarterback this type of ovation?

The Vikings’ story is still being written. Let’s hope that their last game this season is part of next year’s sports stories of the year.

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The White House has notified the world where it stands on cutting a deal on DACA. It’s apparent that Democrats and some squishy Republicans won’t like President Trump’s terms.

President Trump took to Twitter to ‘start’ the negotiations on DACA, aka the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals. In his tweet, President Trump said “The Democrats have been told, and fully understand, that there can be no DACA without the desperately needed WALL at the Southern Border and an END to the horrible Chain Migration & ridiculous Lottery System of Immigration etc.” Jeff Flake, a frequent critic of the president, ‘replied’ on Twitter that ” We can fix DACA in a way that beefs up border security, stops chain migration for the DREAMers, and addresses the unfairness of the diversity lottery. If POTUS (Trump) wants to protect these kids, we want to help him keep that promise.”

Actually, Sen. Flake, it isn’t just that President Trump wants to increase ‘border security’. It’s that he’s demanding that Congress funds the building of the wall. As I’ve said before, it’s imperative that the wall gets built. While President Trump has earned high marks for cracking down on illegal immigration, it’s virtually certain that the next Democratic president won’t enforce the existing laws. It’s virtually certain that a Democrat president will turn the southern border into a sieve again by redeploying border patrol agents to non-border areas.

The advantage to building the wall is that it won’t be ‘redeployed’ away from the border the next time a Democrat occupies the White House. That’s what the American people deserve. If there’s anything that we’ve learned about border security in the last decade, it’s that we can’t trust Democrats to be vigilant defenders of the border.

That’s because they’re interested in the southern border only as a source of new voters. They’ve proven that they’ll side with open borders special interests rather than with the people.

Sean Davis’s op-ed about the 10 undercovered stories of 2017 reminded me of the different approach taken towards ISIS. In a speech to the nation on Sept. 10, 2014, President Obama said “Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL. And any time we take military action, there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions. But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years. And it is consistent with the approach I outlined earlier this year: to use force against anyone who threatens America’s core interests, but to mobilize partners wherever possible to address broader challenges to international order.”

Actually, that’s what happens when the United States military isn’t unleashed. Early in his administration, President Trump gave the generals the authority to do whatever it took to demolish ISIS. As I write this post, ISIS is virtually eradicated. ISIS’s strongholds in Mosul and Raqqa have been destroyed. Here’s how Davis described the situation:

Islamic State was crushed in Raqqa and Mosul

A year ago, the Islamic State wasn’t just on the rise in the Middle East, it was firmly in charge, with wide swaths of the region under its control. But in October, U.S.-backed forces completed the total liberation of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s Syrian capital. That followed the liberation of Mosul, a major Iraqi city captured by the Islamic State in 2014. In less than a year, Trump and his national security team accomplished what the previous administration suggested was impossible.

Listen to President Obama’s excuse-filled statement about the war against ISIS:

Here’s the part to focus on:

This is going to be a long-term campaign. There are not quick fixes involved. We are still in the early stages. As with any military effort, there will be days of progress and there will be periods of setback.

Actually, Mr. President, there was a quick fix. We just needed a real commander-in-chief who was serious about wiping out ISIS. Clearly, you didn’t fit that description. Further, it’s apparent that President Trump fits that description. It’s worth noting that President Trump has the advantage of having Gen. Jim Mattis as his Defense Secretary.

It’s likely that this is an underreported story because it would expose President Obama as the lackluster commander-in-chief that he was. The disgusting part is that I don’t have hope that we’ll learn from the Obama mistake. I don’t think we’ll learn from it because Obama’s supporters won’t admit that he’s a failure both on the national security front and the economic front.

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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.

Juan Williams’ latest column is proof that GIGO- Garbage in, garbage out. Williams’ opinion is that “GOP will suffer for tax giveaway”, to quote the title of his article. Williams then cites “a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll” that shows “voters favoring Democrats by 33 percent to 29 percent on taxes, and by 35 percent to 30 percent on the economy.”

He then writes that “Voters can see that he has handed tax cuts to the very rich, the top 1 percent, and shareholders of large corporations — not the middle class or the poor.” Actually, Juan, they’ll find out that President Trump and the Republicans cut taxes for the middle class and to corporations. Apparently, Democrats haven’t figured it out that it’s possible to do both simultaneously. Further, people have already started seeing the benefits of the tax cuts. They’ve seen big corporations paying out $1,000 end-of-year bonuses, increasing wages to $15/hr., promises of additional investments in the companies and contributing to philanthropic causes.

Next, Williams said “‘By the end, the #GOPTaxScam will… raise taxes on 86 million middle class households, hand 83% of the benefits to the wealthiest 1% of Americans. This will go down as one of the most scandalous, obscene acts of plutocracy ever,’ Pelosi tweeted.” Williams then wrote “Pelosi was citing data from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center which found that under the law, the wealthiest one percent of Americans will get 83 percent of the tax cuts and the wealthiest zero point one (0.1) percent will get almost 60 percent of the tax cuts, both by 2027.”

Williams apparently hasn’t read any of Guy Benson’s outstanding articles. Williams certainly didn’t read this Tipsheet article. That article cites “Well, TPC is out with their fresh analysis of the finalized tax bill, and guess what? As we’ve been saying for weeks, it will slash taxes for the vast, vast majority of American taxpayers:

Joseph Lawler ? @josephlawler

Tax Policy Center: 80% of taxpayers are going to get a tax cut next year under the GOP bill.

5% will see a tax hike of more than $10

Finally, Williams adds this apocalyptic message:

Look for those numbers to sink even lower when Trump voters realize they’ve been had. They were sold a bill of goods by his party when they voted for Trump-style economic populism in 2016.

What’s most likely to happen is that voters will get upset with Democrats for lying to them. It won’t take long before middle class workers start seeing more money in their paychecks. That will likely start in February. At that point, they’ll know that Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and their minions have lied to them. To top things off, perhaps I should instruct Williams to watch this video:

So much for the Democrats’ myths of higher taxes for the middle class. In fact, it isn’t a myth. It’s an outright lie. I don’t think that Juan Williams is a liar. I think he’s stupid, though, for trusting figures spewed by dishonest people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

Newt Gingrich has always been good at shocking people. That isn’t to say that he’s wrong with these predictions. It’s just that Mr. Gingrich’s predictions don’t comply with the MSM’s predictions from within the DC echochamber.

Speaker Gingrich’s shocking predictions start virtually in the first paragraph when he said “The great political surprise of 2018 will be the size of the Republican victory. After members of the elite media have spent two years savaging President Trump, lying about Republican legislation, and reassuring themselves that Republican defeat was inevitable, the size of the GOP victory in 2018 will be an enormous shock.”

Saying that those predictions run contrary to conventional wisdom is understatement. Nonetheless, it’s worth looking at Gingrich’s logic. Specifically, Gingrich focused on a CBS News article featuring a “North Carolina single mother with an income slightly under $40,000 who didn’t think she would be affected will keep about $1,300 more per year under the GOP bill.” Then the article focused on two “college teachers in Rhode Island with a joint income of over $150,000 a year thought they would pay more taxes, but they will actually pay about $650 less under the GOP tax cut.” The article finished with “a California couple with three children, a small business, and earning an income of approximately $300,000. The family believed that because California is a high-tax state, that capping state and local tax deductions would really hurt them. Instead, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will save them nearly $13,000 in taxes.”

Imagine if people in the Midwest find out that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer lied to them about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Imagine what will happen when people find out that their Democrat representative or senator voted against these tax cuts. Finally, imagine how those people will feel if they find out that Democrats put a higher priority on winning political battles than they put on doing the right thing for families.

The gap between the news media falsehoods and the dramatically better reality of the GOP tax cuts will have three huge effects on the 2018 campaign:
1. The American people will be positively surprised and pleased by the degree to which Republicans kept their word and actually put more money in taxpayer pockets. After 10 months of frustration from trying to repeal Obamacare, Republicans have proven they can get big things done.
2. The news media’s dishonesty will be vivid at a personal level. People will be able to compare their personal experience with the news media’s fake reporting and endless bias. As the truth sinks in, the ability of the liberal media to shape opinion will decline even further.
3. Democrats who voted against the bill will live to regret it as people look at their family budgets and realize Democrats in the House and Senate wanted Washington bureaucrats to have more money, rather than hard-working Americans. This will certainly be a losing proposition for the 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election in states President Trump won in 2016.

I haven’t bought into the MSM’s doom-and-gloom-for-Republicans predictions, mostly because I still think people will change their mind when they find the outcome from this tax reform is significantly different than they were told it would be. I’m a firm believer in the old cliché that says “when the facts change, I change, too. What do you do, Sir?”

It isn’t stretch to think that people don’t like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act because they’ve been told that it’s raising their taxes. Imagine what happens when people find that their taxes are actually getting cut. First, that’ll lead to a serious erosion of trust of Democrats.

There’s no doubt that this is contrarian stuff. Still, Gingrich has held awfully contrarian views for quite some time. In 1994, he told the world that Republicans would retake the House. Democrats, especially Vic Fazio, laughed. That November, Republicans won the House majority for the first time in 40 years.

I’m not predicting Republican gains in the House but I won’t bet against Gingrich, either.

This editorial by Rep. Jennifer Schultz is an oft-repeated DFL complaint. In it, Rep. Schultz wrote “A year ago, Minnesota had a state budget surplus and a large general reserve, with special reserves earmarked for purposes like health care. Following deep tax cuts to benefit out-of-state corporations and interests like the tobacco industry and deep withdrawals that slashed reserves, the state faces a deficit in 2018 and the prospects of even larger deficits in the following years. Gov. Mark Dayton fought the tax cuts, but the legislative majority refused to budge. Without necessary revenue, the budget will have to be balanced by cutting programs, including education, health care, transportation infrastructure, and local government aid.”

First, it’s important to understand that the deficit doesn’t exist. The people that put the forecast together based their opinion on the assumption that Minnesota wasn’t getting a $178,000,000 payment for CHIP. That’s now been settled. Minnesota will get that payment. That eliminates all but $10,000,000 of the supposed deficit. The other assumption the forecasters made was that Republicans wouldn’t pass tax reform. Last Friday, President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act into law.

I’d be surprised if the economy doesn’t grow at a more robust rate than we’re currently growing at. GDP grew at a 3.2% rate in Q3 of 2017. It’s expected to grow at almost 4% in Q4. Economists like Stephen Moore is predicting economic growth of over 4% for 2018. This will send a flood of additional money into Minnesota’s coffers. That’ll end the DFL deficit myth.

Rep. Schultz’s disdain for people is palpable in this sentence:

We fixed this in 2013, but reckless tax cuts have sent us back to the bad old days.

I wrote this post to highlight which Minnesotans would get tax relief:

college graduates paying off student loans through a refundable tax credit up to $1,000, $49 million in tax relief for families who contribute to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs, $146 million in property tax relief for every small business in the state…

This was in Rep. Greg Davids’ bill that Gov. Dayton vetoed. Rep. Schultz thinks it’s “reckless” to provide tax relief for “college graduates paying off student loans”, “families contributing to 529 Plans to save for their children’s college costs” and “property tax relief for every small business in the state.” Seriously? This attitude is disgusting. It’s the people’s money. It doesn’t belong to big city mayors (LGA). It doesn’t belong to the commissioner of MnDOT. It doesn’t belong to Minnesota’s Rainy Day Fund. This video proves that the DFL is well-trained at lying about tax relief:

Let’s remember the DFL’s $586,000,000 long-term deficit prediction this March when the real forecast comes out based on reality, not misguided assumptions. I suspect that forecast will look significantly different. (The March forecast will actually be a surplus, I believe.) Further, I suspect that Rep. Schultz’s statements will look like DFL spin, not serious economic analysis.

Duluth has a choice. Will they pick a dishonest socialist like Schultz or should they pick someone who will vote to make people’s lives better?