Scott Brener’s op-ed in this morning’s St. Cloud Times introduces some important questions into the transportation debate at the state legislature. Here’s an example:

In 2012, the Transportation Finance Advisory Committee projected we needed $250 million a year to “maintain” our state roads and bridges. Today, Gov. Dayton says we need $400 million.

Gov. Dayton’s math is terrifying. What he’s saying is that the cost of maintaining Minnesota’s roads and bridges cost 60% more now than they did 2 years ago. High school math says that that’s a 30% increase per year.

That isn’t an estimate. That’s fiction. It’s insulting, too.

Here’s another piece of data that needs to be introduced into the transportation conversation:

In 2012, TFAC projected we needed $210 million a year to build out the Twin Cities transit system. Today, Gov. Dayton says we need $280 million.

That’s a 33% increase in 2 years. Forgive me if I’m skeptical of Gov. Dayton’s estimates. This is worthy of debating, too:

Someone must ask: Are other government services any less long term and in need of stable funding than transportation? If the answer is “no,” then why is it appropriate to fund, say, health care services with those dollars but not transportation? Thirty-three states use the general fund to supplement financing for state roads and bridges. This also could force everyone to redouble efforts to redesign the delivery of all state programs and services.

There’s nothing in the state constitution that prohibits using general funds on repairing roads and bridges. Neither is there anything in Minnesota state statutes that prohibits using general funds on repairing roads and bridges.

There is something, however, in the DFL’s DNA that prohibits them from using general funds to repair roads and bridges. The DFL is reflexively opposed to using general funds to repair roads and bridges because the DFL insists that general funds be spent to pay off their special interest allies.

Each session, the DFL enters with the mindset that they need to increase spending to pay off the environmental activists, the farmers, the nonprofits and the bureaucrats that form their political base. This isn’t about fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Move MN, Gov. Dayton and the DFL constantly talk about transportation. The DFL has consistently talked about raising the wholesale gas tax, the license plate fees and the metro sales tax. At this point, only the gas tax can be used for road and bridge repair projects.

Kurt Daudt has talked consistently about fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. He’s ruled out funding the SWLRT. Period. Move MN’s agenda includes lower priority items:

Accessible Transit Statewide
Transit is important to every community in Minnesota. Move MN supports closing a sales tax loophole by dedicating all of the sales tax from leased vehicles to suburban highways and Greater Minnesota transit.

The Twin Cities metro’s sales tax would be increased by ¾ cent and extended to the seven county metro area. It would fund improved transit connections in the metro area, increasing transit service hours and coverage. Ten percent would be set aside for bike/walk connection planning and implementation.

In short, Move MN’s agenda isn’t rural Minnesota’s agenda. Hell, it isn’t event exurban Minnesota’s agenda.

Move MN’s agenda is the Twin Cities DFL’s agenda. The Twin Cities DFL’s agenda includes “bike/walk connection planning and implementation.” If that’s true, then they can take a hike on raising taxes.

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Allahpundit’s post from this morning hits the nail on the head:

Makes me wonder if the team, craftily seeking a dubious advantage that they could play dumb about later, doesn’t deliberately have the footballs inflated in a very hot room before each game knowing that the temperature on the field will naturally soften them up for Brady. That way, if they’re ever caught cheating, they can claim it was an accident. We’re football players, damn it, not physicists.

So Brady surely knew, which means we’ve now reached the “What will the NFL do?” stage of this. Do they try to make it go away by claiming there’s no hard evidence that anyone on the team deliberately tampered with the balls?

Commissioner Goodell lost tons of credibility this season, starting with his decision to suspend Ray Rice 2 games for knocking his then-fiancé out in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino. It went downhill after that.

Yesterday on NFL Insiders and this morning on Mike & Mike, both of which air on ESPN, Adam Shefter tried pushing the NFL’s chanting points, saying that we shouldn’t rush to judgment, that we don’t have all the facts. That’s shameful reporting, especially considering the fact that Shefter is the football equivalent of a gossip columnist.

While it’s true that we don’t know all of the facts, we know a majority of the most important facts. First, we know with certainty that all 12 of the Patriots’ footballs were underinflated. We know that 1 of the Patriots’ footballs was slightly underinflated and that 11 of the footballs were significantly and noticeably underinflated. We know that the Patriots’ footballs complied with league rules 2 hrs. 15 minutes before kickoff and that 11 of the 12 footballs were significantly underinflated at halftime.

Those are the most important facts involving this scandal. They’re also facts that are indisputable.

What we don’t know is who deflated the Patriots’ footballs. While we’re not 100% certain of other things, we’re 95% certain of a few things, which AP wrote about here:

Mark Brunell, a former QB himself, is especially damning in explaining how he’d always personally check and re-check the feel of the footballs before each game to make sure that they were to his liking — within the PSI parameters set by the league, of course. The odds that Brady would skip that preparation before the AFC title game are basically zero. In the end, they come back to the same point I made yesterday. To get Brady (and Belichick) off the hook, you need to believe either that the balls deflated accidentally, due to temperature effects, say, or that some random New England staffer decided on his own initiative to mess with the balls without telling the Pats’ star player. The second scenario is unimaginable.

I wrote yesterday that the Belichick press conference set thing up perfectly to essentially blame the Patriots’ equipment manager or ball boys for the deflated balls. That’s precisely the path Brady took. AP’s right, though. It’s unimaginable that a New England “staffer on his own initiative to mess with the balls without telling the Pats’ star player.” That’s intellectually insulting. The fact that the Patriots’ haven’t fired any staffers indicates that they know low-level staffers aren’t the problem.

Finally, if Goodell doesn’t get this right, if he doesn’t come down hard on the Patriots for cheating and ruining the integrity of the NFL, he’ll be the biggest laughingstock in professional sports. The sportswriters that’ve already written ‘everyone cheats’ articles aren’t worthy of being called journalists because they’re missing the point. The average fan wants to think that somewhere, people behave honorably.

If Goodell treats the Patriots gently, the NFL owners should fire him the day after the Super Bowl. The minimum punishment Goodell should levy on the Patriots should be a $1,000,000 fine against the Patriots, suspending Bill Belichick for a year and Tom Brady for 3 games and stripping the Patriots of their first and second round picks in this year’s draft.

That’s more than fair because of the fines and suspensions levied against the New Orleans Saints for BountyGate. At the time that he handed down those fines and suspensions, Goodell said that Sean Payton wasn’t absolved of guilt because he said he didn’t know about the bounties. Goodell said that ignorance wasn’t a defense. That should apply to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft. Let’s remember that Goodell also said that he’d hold coaches and owners to a higher standard than players.

It’s time to see if he’ll live up to that statement.

Rep. Paul Marquardt’s diatribe is mostly deceptive, if not downright dishonest:

During the campaign, Knoblach and his Republican allies committed to fixing our state’s crumbling roads and bridges. But new House Speaker Kurt Daudt already has admitted that Republicans “may not be able to solve this on the long-term basis.” And the so-called plan Republicans offered certainly isn’t a fix. It’s not even a bandage!

First, the House Republicans’ so-called plan isn’t their final plan. The thing that Rep. Marquardt is criticizing is a partial plan of what Republicans intend to do. Think of it as the opening position in negotiations with the DFL on a final transportation bill.

As dishonest as that part of Marquardt’s diatribe is, this part is worse:

To make matters worse, the House GOP’s top legislative priority is to cut taxes for corporations.

I’ve read the Republicans’ Tax Bill. It doesn’t cut corporations’ taxes. That’s the DFL’s reflexive lie that they use on any Republican legislation on taxes. Within a split-second of Republicans proposing tax legislation, the DFL reflexively and dishonestly accuses Republicans of wanting to cut taxes on multinational corporations at the expense of the middle class.

It’s so reflexive of the DFL to make that accusation that I can recite that DFL Chanting Point backwards, frontwards and in my sleep if my life depended on it. Actually, I’m confident I could recite that Chanting Point in my sleep even if my life didn’t depend on it.

I don’t officially speak for Jim Knoblach but I’m confident I can answer Marquardt’s question:

Will Knoblach stick with his party boss’s plans that favor corporate special interests over rural roads and bridges, or will he make good on his promise to fix our state’s transportation system?

Before answering that question, I’d really appreciate it if Rep. Marquardt used the proper spelling. In this instance, it shouldn’t read “Will Knoblach stick with his party boss’s plans.” It should read “Will Knoblach stick with his party bosses’ plans”? because Rep. Marquardt is referring to multiple party bosses. But I digress.

The answer is that Jim Knoblach will properly represent the views of his constituents. Having known Jim for quite a few years, I know with certainty that he’s a man who listens to his constituents.

Thursday afternoon, Patriots QB Tom Brady held a press conference in his attempt to put the #DeflateGate scandal behind him and the Patriots. He failed miserably. Here’s one of Brady’s quotes from the press conference:

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” Brady said. “I have a process I go through before every game where I go in and pick the balls — the footballs that I want to use for the game. Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those footballs out, at that point, to me, they’re perfect. I don’t want anyone touching the balls after that, I don’t want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in, taking any air out, to me those balls are perfect and that’s what I expect when I’m on the field.”

Later in the press conference, Brady said that he prefers the footballs to be precisely 12.5 psi. At another point in answering questions, he said he couldn’t tell the difference between the balls he described as perfect and the footballs that were checked at halftime and found to be 2 psi light of the minimum psi allowed by league rules.

How can someone say that he wants game footballs to be a specific psi, then say he can’t tell the difference between footballs that feel and weigh dramatically different? The panelists of NFL Live on ESPN have an opinion on the matter:

Here’s what Mark Brunell said on whether he believed Tom Brady:

“I did not believe what Tom had to say,” Brunell said. “Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it. And I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without his starting quarterback’s approval. I just didn’t believe what Tom Brady had to say.”

Brunell explained that starting quarterbacks (and he started 151 games in the NFL) routinely check the balls to ensure that the balls have the right feel, from an inflation standpoint. “That football is our livelihood,” Brunell said. “If you don’t feel good about throwing that ball, your success can suffer from that.”

Prior to this week the average football fan didn’t pay attention to the footballs used in games. They couldn’t have told you a thing about the NFL regulations on footballs. It’s different with QBs, though. As Brunell said, “That football is our livelihood.” Using footballs that they don’t feel comfortable with is foolish.

At this point, we have a substantial base of information that’s been verified. There’s still some things that aren’t known. On another front, some of the details aren’t important to the NFL handing down a ruling.

When Sean Payton, the Saints’ head coach, was asked what he knew about BountyGate, he said he didn’t know anything about it. Commissioner Goodell suspended him for an entire year because, in Goodell’s words, he should’ve known. It’s possible Belichick didn’t know about DeflateGate. That’s irrelevant because making sure the team plays within the rules is the head coach’s responsibility.

It isn’t possible to believe that Tom Brady prefers his footballs to be inflated to 12.5 psi but then he can’t tell the difference between footballs inflated to 12.5 psi compared with footballs inflated to 10.5 psi.

Finally, this is the second time this season that the Patriots used underinflated balls that we know of. The Patriots’ footballs for their regular season game against Indianapolis were underinflated, too. That’s before considering the fact that Baltimore suspected the Patriots of using underinflated footballs.

Regardless, the NFL referees handled the underinflated footballs for the entire first half and didn’t notice. It’s impossible to believe that they didn’t notice a significant difference between the Patriots’ underinflated footballs and Indianapolis’ properly inflated footballs.

After reading this article about Patriots Coach Bill Belichick’s press conference on #DeflateGate, it’s feeling like he’s teeing things up for Tom Brady to throw the ball boys under the bus. Here’s the video of Belichick’s press conference:

That’s aggravating from the standpoint of the fact that it’s a press conference. Normal people answer questions when they hold a press conference. Bill Belichick doesn’t answer questions at his press conferences. His media availabilities are tightly controlled to the point that Belichick’s meetings with the media make a Jay Carney briefing look expansive. This simply isn’t credible:

The famously tight-lipped coach said he, like fans everywhere, only learned about the intricacies of pigskin air pressure this week, after the NFL announced the Patriots used illegally underinflated balls in the game, played in Foxboro, Mass., in bad weather.

“I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers and specialists have certain preferences,” Belichick said. “Tom’s personal preferences on footballs are something he can talk about.”

Watching a Belichick press conference provides ample verification that Belichick is a control freak’s control freak. For him to insinuate that he doesn’t pay attention to important details is insulting. This is the coach who used this gadget play a week ago against the Baltimore Ravens:

The New England Patriots used just four offensive lineman during a series of three plays in the third quarter of their 35-31 comeback win over the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night. It totally confused the Ravens and was so unexpected that the NBC announcers didn’t even catch it during the live broadcast.

An explanation:

Under NFL rules the offense effectively has to have five players on the line of scrimmage who are ineligible to catch a pass. Normally, these five players are the offensive linemen, and they’re stacked together in the middle of the field. The Patriots didn’t do that on those three plays. They used four clearly identifiable offensive linemen and had another player who was lined up in a different part of the formation declare himself as the fifth ineligible player.

Now we’re supposed to think that the man who scours the rulebook for obscure rules to give him an advantage doesn’t know that a deflated ball gives his QB and his runners an advantage in cold weather? I don’t think so.

Frankly, Beli-cheat, which is his nickname, shouldn’t be given the benefit of the doubt on whether they’ll comply with the rules. His administration has frequently flaunted the rules. Many major rule changes were created because Belichick’s Patriots didn’t obey the rules.

Later this afternoon, Tom Brady will hold a special press availability. Knowing Belichick’s respect for Brady, it’s obvious that he didn’t throw Brady to the wolves. I’d be totally surprised if Brady admitted that he cheated. It wouldn’t surprise me if he threw the Patriots’ ball boys under the bus. I’m not predicting that. I just won’t rule that possibility out.

What I’ve ruled out, though, is the possibility of Belichick, Brady and Robert Kraft, the Patriots’ owner, all being innocent. That simply isn’t plausible.

Summer School Brochure
by Silence Dogood

On January 14, 2015, a flashy four-page color brochure appeared in faculty/staff campus mailboxes.

Last December, President Potter sent an email to all faculty and staff entitled “Managing our budget.” In the email, President Potter listed: “a number of new initiatives to increase enrollment, including: Taking steps to revitalize our summer school enrollment.”

One can only assume that this brochure was one of the steps to ‘revitalize our summer school enrollment.’

In the brochure, it states:

The report shows a graph of “Summer Session Credits by School/College.”

The graph clearly shows that the decline in summer session credits it not consistent across the schools/colleges. The declines in the Herberger Business School and the College of Science and Engineering is much smaller than the decline in the School of Education where the decline from FY 2012 to FY 2014 looks to be more than 50%.

The brochure also shows a plot of “Credits by Term and Fiscal Year.”

In looking at the graph, it certainly looks like the decline in credits for Summer is much smaller than the decline in credits for Fall and Spring. In fact, comparing Summer FY 2013 with Summer FY 2014, it looks like a very small decline in credits. However, one might ask what was the intended purpose of this graph in the first place? Was it to show the relative declines for Fall, Spring, and Summer? Was it to show the enrollment decline in summer is not too bad?

A further problem with this graph is that most people have no idea what is meant by a fiscal year. For SCSU, the fiscal year begins with summer term, followed by fall term and then spring term making up the fiscal year. Hence, Summer 2013, Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 are part of FY 2014. As a result, since the plot only shows data up through FY 2014, the plot above omits the data for Summer 2014 and Fall 2014, which are both in FY 2015. Enrollment for Spring 2015 is not final but if you want to know about summer enrollments, perhaps the enrollment from the most recent summer session might be important to know.

The following figure shows the summer FYE enrollment, which includes the most recent summer session.

If you wanted to show the summer school enrollments, this plot is more descriptive than that shown in the 2014 Summer Session Annual Report. Clearly, since Summer’10, the enrollment has been what can only be described as a ‘freefall.’ From Summer’10 through Summer’14, the drop of 409 FYE represents a decline of 30.9%. Thus in a four-year period, summer enrollments dropped by nearly 1/3rd!

Clearly, what data is presented and how it is presented can change your perception of an issue. The graph in the brochure clearly shows enrollment in the summer is declining. However, as presented in the figure above, it is clear that the decline in summer enrollment is staggeringly not small! Looking at the plot in the 2014 Summer Session Annual Report you might not come to that same conclusion. Again, one might ask exactly what is the purpose of this document?

It is also interesting to look at the summer enrollments at the other MnSCU universities. Frequently, it is heard that ‘everybody is declining’ as if that is enough to justify the enrollment decline at SCSU. The following Figure shows the FYE enrollments at all of the MnSCU universities from Summer’06 through Summer’14.

From the Figure, it is clear that the three MnSCU universities with the largest summer enrollments (SCSU, Metro, and Mankato) all experienced declines in enrollment for Summer’14. The four universities with the smallest summer enrollments (Winona, Moorhead, Bemidji, and Southwest) all experienced increases in enrollment for Summer’14. Are the smaller universities are doing something differently than the large universities, which accounts for the differences in summer enrollment?

The figure also shows that SCSU was once the leader in summer enrollments by a wide margin and has now dropped to third! If the trends are extended, it won’t be too long before SCSU slips to fourth place behind Winona! Since Summer’10, it is clear that Winona has been doing something right to grow so much!

The drop in summer enrollment at SCSU didn’t happen in one year, it took four years to drop 30.9%. However, it shouldn’t have taken four years to figure out that something was going wrong with Summer School enrollment.

After dropping 9.0% in Summer’11, alarm bells should have been going off in the administration building. For Summer’11, SCSU was the only MnSCU university with a decline in summer enrollment!

For Summer’12, SCSU’s decline increased to 11.4%. However, for Summer’12 SCSU was not alone in declining. Moorhead led the way with a one-year decline of 17.9%! Bemidji lost 7.6%, Southwest lost 6.8%, Mankato and Winona both lost 3.3%. However, Metro was nearly flat losing only 0.2%.

Unfortunately, the SCSU administration was either unaware of the declines in the summer enrollment for 2011 and 2012 or didn’t know what to do because enrollment again dropped 5.4% for Summer’13. Although a decline, the rate of decline was less than half of the previous year. This in itself might have been considered a small ‘victory.’ Perhaps the administration thought the problem with declining enrollment was taking care of itself. Unfortunately, for Summer’14 the enrollment decline nearly doubled in increasing to 9.4%.

Now, after a four-year period in which enrollment has dropped 30.9%, the President announces that he’s “taking steps to revitalize our summer school enrollment.” So, the ‘flashy’ brochure appears.

A faculty member responded to the SCSU Discussion List:

In my mailbox this morning appeared a flashy, full-color, 4-page brochure entitled “2014 Summer Sessions: 2014 Annual Report.”

Considering the budget crisis we are now under, I am wondering if there might have been a more cost-effective way of conveying this information.”

A second faculty member continued:

“I thought the same thing as I passed out one to each faculty member in my department and then watched most of the sheets get dropped in the trash. An email to everyone could have conveyed the same info.”

Does anyone really believe that this ‘flashy’ brochure will be the salvation of SCSU’s summer school program? Perhaps a wiser investment would have been in some targeted marketing. It appears unlikely, quoting Winston Churchill, that the brochure is a signal of “the end of the beginning” of SCSU’s summer enrollment woes. At best, it might be hoped to signal a slowing of the rate of decline. Only time will tell.

Let’s stipulate that deflating the footballs Tom Brady used didn’t cost Indianapolis Colts a berth in Super Bowl XLIX. Indianapolis has Andrew Luck, a secondary that tackles well and pretty much nothing else. If the Patriots used deflated balls against the Ravens, which wouldn’t surprise me, I’d argue that the underinflated balls gave the Patriots a distinct advantage against Baltimore. I’ll return to this later.

First, let’s talk about what we know with certainty.

  1. The Patriots submitted 12 footballs to the NFL on the Friday before the AFC Championship Game.
  2. When NFL inspected those footballs prior to the AFC Championship Game, each of the Patriots balls were properly inflated.
  3. When the inspected footballs submitted by the Patriots were returned to the Patriots 2 hrs. 15 minutes before the AFC Championship Game, they were properly inflated.
  4. When Indianapolis Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Tom Brady’s pass, he gave the ball to the Indianapolis equipment manager. The equipment manager alerted NFL officials.
  5. At halftime, NFL officials checked the footballs submitted by both teams. NFL officials have announced that 11 of the 12 footballs submitted by the Patriots to the NFL were underinflated but that the Colts’ footballs were properly inflated.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Patriots deflated the footballs Tom Brady used to give him a competitive advantage. NFL rules require that game-used footballs be inflated to at least 12.5 psi and no more than 13.5 psi. The Patriots’ footballs were found to be up to 2 psi under the minimum allowed weight.

During NFL Live on ESPN, host Trey Gowdy handed 3 footballs to retired QB Mark Brunell and retired running back Jerome Bettis to see if they could identify which ball was overinflated, which football was underinflated and which football met the NFL’s requirement. It took Brunell and Bettis less than 5 seconds each to correctly identify each of the balls. To them, it was that obvious. What happened after that test is what caught my attention.

Brunell said that underinflated footballs are a) easier to grip and b) more accurate to throw. He made that statement with total confidence and without hesitation. Bettis said that an underinflated football helped running backs tuck the football in between their shoulder and their elbow tighter, making it more difficult for defenders to strip the football from a runner’s grip.

Since it’s clear that the Patriots didn’t need underinflated balls to defeat the Indianapolis Colts, it’s fair to ask what the Patriots’ motivation was. This is where the Patriots’ past is relevant. In 2007, Belichick had “an assistant spy on the New York Jets’ defensive signals.” Belichick was personally fined $500,000 for getting caught cheating that time. The Patriots’ history under Belichick is that of getting caught cheating. The next thing to be determined is what the appropriate punishment should be.

Personally, I think Belichick should be suspended for a full year starting the day after the Super Bowl. That means he can’t have any contact with the Patriots from the minute that the game ends until he’s reinstated. Next, the Patriots should be fined $1,000,000. They should forfeit their first and second round picks this year, too.

When they were caught cheating in ‘Spy-gate’, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team lost its first round pick and paid a $250,000 fine. This cheating is as bad, if not worse, than Spy-gate.

Finally, the NFL shouldn’t give the footballs back to the teams on the sidelines. The NFL is one of the richest sports leagues in the world. They should hire people to handle the footballs to preserve the integrity of the game and to prevent the Patriots from cheating again.

Wingo later noted that Watergate happened in 1972, with Richard Nixon cruising to the biggest landslide in US presidential history. It wasn’t that Watergate helped him defeat George McGovern. Watergate caught the nation’s attention because it exposed the Nixon administration’s corruption.

Deflate-Gate is catching football fans’ attentions because it’s reminding them of the Patriots’ history of corruption. That’s why Deflate-Gate matters.

UPDATE: John Madden brought a voice of sanity to “Deflate-Gate” with this explanation:

“That would have to be driven by the quarterback,” Madden told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday. “That’s something that wouldn’t be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to a football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”

Madden’s position makes a lot of sense. Quarterbacks are particular about their footballs. Anybody doing anything to the footballs without the quarterback’s knowledge or consent would be asking for a tongue lashing. In Brady’s case, his tongue wouldn’t be needed to formulate the various “F” words that would be hurled at he who messes with the quarterback’s primary tool.

“He is the effected,” Madden said. “He is the only guy. I heard some of the pundits saying the ball is easier to catch, but that would never, ever, ever be done for that unless the quarterback wanted it. You wouldn’t do something for a receiver to catch the ball if the quarterback couldn’t throw it. So it’s going to be done for the quarterback.”

UPDATE II: Chris Canty’s comments will get under some Patriots’ skin:

“The Patriots are habitual line-steppers,” Canty said during an in-studio appearance. “If the allegations are true, then you are talking about attacking the integrity of our game and I have an issue with that…[W]hat I’m going to say about the deflating of the balls, to me there is no difference than performance-enhancing drugs. You are cheating at that point. You are getting a competitive advantage outside of the rule book and there has to be some sort of consequences for that.”

Canty’s opinion sounds a lot like the NFL’s position that, when it comes to topics impacting the integrity of the game, serious action is required.

“To me, the integrity of the game is the most important thing,” Canty said. “You want to be successful as a player but you want to think that you are doing things that are within the rules and that you are out there competing and it’s not whether it is performance-enhancing drugs or deflated footballs that is out there aiding in your performance.”

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The biggest difference between the speech Joni Ernst delivered and President Obama’s SOTU speech, other than the fact that Ernst’s speech dealt with reality and President Obama’s speech didn’t, is that Sen. Ernst said that Republicans will listen to the American people:

Tonight though, rather than respond to a speech, I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again.

We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country.

The new Republican Congress also understands how difficult these past six years have been. For many of us, the sting of the economy and the frustration with Washington’s dysfunction, weren’t things we had to read about. We felt them every day.

President Obama’s speech was different in that he couldn’t admit to the truth:

Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis.

The economy is doing better than the first 6 years of the Obama economy, mostly despite President Obama’s best efforts to hurt the economy. We’re benefitting from the private- and state-lands fracking boom. The Bakken Boom happened despite President Obama’s attempts to prevent it. It didn’t happen because President Obama’s policies encouraged it. That isn’t speculation. That’s indisputable fact based on statistics from the Obama administration’s Energy Information Administration.

During last night’s SOTU address, President Obama pretended that al-Qa’ida didn’t exist, that the economy is booming and that the 2014 elections didn’t happen. The bad news for President Obama and the Democratic Party is that al-Qa’ida is gaining strength, the economy is doing so-so and he experienced another butt-kicking in the 2014 midterms.

Brian Beutler wrote this article after last night’s speech. Apparently, he suffers from the same mental disorder President Obama suffers from:

If Democrats controlled Congress, Congress wouldn’t have treated Obama’s address like a dead letter and Obama might have tailored it more narrowly, careful not to ask for more than Congress could plausibly deliver.

BULLETIN FOR BRIAN BEUTLER: The reason Democrats don’t control Congress is because the American people rejected President Obama’s agenda. The American people saw the agenda. The American people saw President Obama’s policies fail. In 2014, they said ‘I’ve had it’ and threw Democrats out.

The verdict from the American people was that they’d had enough of President Obama’s failed policies.

Joni Ernst didn’t offer a lengthy list of Republican solutions. Instead, she said something more important. She told the American people that Republicans were listening to the American people. Then she told them that Republicans would act on the things that the American people’s priorities.

That’s why Joni Ernst’s speech was consequential over the long term and why President Obama’s speech will be forgotten before the Super Bowl is played.

Fall Semester Enrollments in MnSCU
by Silence Dogood

The following figure shows the enrollments at the seven MnSCU universities for Fall 2013 and Fall 2014:

Of the seven MnSCU universities, only Southwest’s enrollment was larger in Fall 2014 than the previous fall and it was larger by a whopping 2 FYE. Although six of the seven universities lost enrollment, for most of the universities, the changes between Fall 2013 and Fall 2014 are small so the values overlap.

An easier way to see the relative changes is to calculate the percent change in enrollment from Fall 2013 to Fall 2014 as shown in the following figure:

As shown in the figure, the leader in the percentage decline is Moorhead followed closely by SCSU. However, since Moorhead cut 10% of its faculty and staff for Fall 2014 because of declining enrollments, it might be understandable to see a decline in enrollment simply because of offering fewer sections of classes as a result of having fewer teaching faculty.

On a percentage basis the decline at Moorhead is larger than that at SCSU. However, since SCSU is more than twice as large as Moorhead, the total decline at SCSU (272) is nearly double that of Moorhead (152) as shown in the following figure.

For all of the MnSCU universities combined, the Fall decline totals 628 FYE. As a result of the decline of 272 FYE at SCSU, SCSU is responsible for 43.3% of the decline even though in FY14 it generated only 22.6% of the Fall FYE enrollment. In other words, the other five universities in MnSCU lost 356 FYE in enrollment and SCSU lost 272 FYE on its own. The data also shows that SCSU lost nearly four times the enrollment as was lost by rival Minnesota State University—Mankato.

For Fall Semester, Southwest was the only university that was up, three were down 0.9% (Bemidji), 1.0% (Mankato) and 1.2% (Winona). Metro was down 2.6% followed by SCSU at 4.5% and Moorhead at 5.3%. Too many more Fall semesters like this one and the lost enrollment at SCSU might start getting significant.

If it hadn’t been captured on video, I’d never believe that Rachel Maddow’s guest had talked about President Obama’s “rose-colored glasses.” Here’s that video:

The person Ms. Maddow was interviewing wasn’t Ted Cruz or Rand Paul. She interviewed Richard Engel, NBC’s “chief foreign affairs correspondent.” Here’s what Engel said:

“It seems that the rose-colored glasses through which [President Obama] was viewing the foreign policy were so rose-colored that they don’t even reflect the world that we’re living in,” Engel said during MSNBC’s post-speech coverage. He pointed to recent events in Paris, Iraq, and Syria as signs of the Islamic State and other terror groups’ growing presence worldwide.

“ISIS is doing very well, and the strategy is completely disjointed,” he continued. “To sell that as a success, I think was missing the point, maybe even disingenuous.”

I wrote this article on Examiner, which I titled “America’s first delusional president.” I went a bit further than Engel did but, then again, I wasn’t limited to 85 seconds to get my thoughts in.

In his SOTU speech, President Obama actually said that “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.” Any speech that includes that line should be nominated for ‘the speech most likely written by someone wearing rose-colored glasses.’ Unfortunately, President Obama didn’t learn the first rule of holes, which is “if you’re in a hole, stop digging.” Later, President Obama added this whopper:

We’re upholding the principle that bigger nations can’t bully the small?—?by opposing Russian aggression, supporting Ukraine’s democracy, and reassuring our NATO allies. Last year, as we were doing the hard work of imposing sanctions along with our allies, some suggested that Mr. Putin’s aggression was a masterful display of strategy and strength. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

Putin isn’t isolated. He took control of the Crimean Peninsula, which was a major part of the Ukraine. Now, Putin is threatening Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, aka the Baltic States. What’s worse is that President Obama sent the Ukrainian government meals ready to eat, aka MREs, when they asked for military weapons after Russia invaded eastern Ukraine.

It’s time that President Obama removed the rose-colored glasses, listened to people who actually know what they’re talking about (as opposed to listening to people like Hillary and John Kerry) and started pushing back against Putin, ISIL and Core al-Qa’ida.

We can’t afford a delusional president.

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