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Franks: America’s run out of reasons to trust Joe Biden

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Franks: America’s run out of reasons to trust Joe Biden

President Joe Biden has taken the Democratic Party to new lows. The Democrats have lost 14 points in 12 months in a recent Gallop poll on who the American people want to run the country. Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’s polling numbers are at historic lows for this time in their term.

How did we get here?

In 2020 the Democrats were riding a wave. Their disdain for former President Donald Trump was their trump card. Nearly the entire media and social media platforms allied with them.

They just had to put someone on the stage that people were “comfortable” with. And everybody knew the former vice president under former President Barack Obama.

Despite all the hoopla, the Democrats needed an extraordinarily strong Black turnout as Trump had actually done something his predecessors failed to do: make headway with the Black community.

Enter Biden’s early announcement to pick a Black woman for vice president. With many choices, Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.) would have been a better one. She had extensive legislative experience, including being speaker of the House of the nation’s largest state legislature and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. She was also elected to Congress in 2010. But no. Biden went with a person, who, upon arriving in Congress, seemed to have a singular mission of getting to the White House. Yet Harris could not gain a single delegate for president, and bowed out before the race even began.

It is highly likely that Harris has less political/governing/legislative experience than any of our past vice presidents. Attorney general and prosecutor are atypical qualifications for the position. As a result, she is suffering the pains of “on the job training.”

The normal scrutiny, or the scrutiny that would usually accompany GOP selections for vice president — some of us remember the criticism of Dan Quayle, former President George H.W. Bush’s choice in 1988 — was dismissed. Quayle was constantly hounded by the mainstream media as being a lightweight, yet he had 12 years of legislative experience as a congressman and senator.

With the selection of Harris and Biden, the Democrats and the mainstream media were giddy. All was good. Yet, we got a near 80-year-old in the White House, top House Democratic leadership in their 80s, and an 80-year-old (Majority Whip Jim Clyburn) anointing Biden in the primaries and an unseasoned vice presidential candidate. For me these were ominous signs for concern.

But they had ousted Trump. And COVID-19 was killing people.

But at this point Biden has had far more COVID-related deaths than his predecessor, and that is with three vaccines. Now, he is fumbling the delivery of test kits and just recently advocated for more protective masks.

The media allows Biden to remain unaccountable for his campaign comments — “There are 220,000 Americans dead. Anyone responsible for that many deaths should not remain president of the United States of America.” Today deaths are over 800,000.

In that vein, is there anyone in America other than the aforementioned leaders and their supporters who would not agree that Obama and Trump would have been impeached and possibly removed from office had they bungled Afghanistan like Biden managed to do?

Unfortunately, we may not have seen the full ramifications of that debacle. No one has been held accountable for it. So the buck stops with Mr. Biden.

The question is trust. Can we trust Biden’s judgment, competence and willingness to make his statements match the facts? Biden must give us reasons to do so.

He should take on the tough challenges Americans face — inflation, national debt, the border crisis, crime in our cities, the rising cost of energy, supply chain difficulties, Russia, North Korea, China, solvency of Social Security and Medicare, instead of trying to give Americans “free stuff” all the time. Yes, Americans getting “free stuff” will poll well (duh!), but haven’t Americans done just fine without more proposed “free stuff”? Yes, they have.

There’s plenty to do. Mr. Biden, as you hit the re-set button remember that your greatest success (the Infrastructure bill) came when you worked with Republicans.

More of that kind of effort and you will have the opportunity to bring America together.


Gary Franks served three terms as U.S. representative for Connecticut’s 5th District. He was the first Black Republican elected to the House in nearly 60 years. He is the host of the podcast “We Speak Frankly.”

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Vikings’ Eric Kendricks ‘excited’ about new coach Kevin O’Connell, direction of team

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Vikings’ Eric Kendricks ‘excited’ about new coach Kevin O’Connell, direction of team

On Jan. 10, hours after the Vikings fired Mike Zimmer, linebacker Eric Kendricks didn’t mince words when he spoke about what type of culture was needed with a new head coach. He said, “I don’t think a fear-based organization is the way to go.”

In February, the Vikings hired Los Angeles Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as Zimmer’s replacement, and the team began offseason drills last month. On Wednesday, Kendricks spoke to the media for the first time since his strong comments in January.

Kendricks, who joined the Vikings in 2015, said he didn’t want to look back on the seven years he spent playing for Zimmer, who was known for his abrasive nature. But all indications are he is pleased with what has transpired so far under O’Connell, known for being much more easy going.

“I’m real excited about the staff,” Kendricks said. “Everybody’s been on board, everybody’s been communicating very well. … We have this amazing opportunity ahead of us again. … Whatever happened last year is in the past and we have to move forward. We can learn from a lot of things, but we also have to adapt and change with the new year.”

On the same day Zimmer was fired, the Vikings also dismissed general manager Rick Spielman, who was replaced later in January by Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. During the process of looking for a coach, Kendricks said Wednesday he had conversations with management and the Wilf ownership group about what the team might be seeking.

“We had a great conversation at the end of the season and throughout the offseason a little bit,” Kendricks said “I’ve talked with the Wilfs as well. … Just having that bridge of communication with them and the management as well, I feel like it’s not really common. I’ve talked to players around the league and they don’t really have that communication with their ownership.”

Kendricks didn’t give specifics but said his conversations with Zygi and Mark Wilf were more detailed than anything he had before. He said previous dealings with ownership usually came when he went to community events and the Wilfs “happened to be there.”

All indications so far have been that Kendricks, 30, is building a strong relationship with O’Connell. The head coach is counting on Kendricks, who joins safety Harrison Smith, 33, and cornerback Patrick Peterson, 31, as one of three players on the defensive who is 30 and older.

“From day one, I’ve been so impressed by Eric and just his impact on our team, his impact as a leader, part of our leadership group that we have here, which I’m very, very fortunate in my first job as a head coach to have such a good group,” O’Connell said.

Kendricks has led the Vikings in tackles in six of his seven seasons and was named first-team All-Pro in 2019, and O’Connell calls him a “core player” and a key communicator on defense. But Kendricks will have a bit of a different role in 2022.

The Vikings have shifted from a 4-3 scheme, which featured Kendricks as the middle linebacker, to a 3-4, in which he will be one of two inside linebackers. So far, Kendricks likes how the adjustment has gone.

“Obviously, with the 4-3, you’re gapped out most of the time and this and that,” Kendricks said. “With the (3-4), it’s a little more ambiguous at times. It allows you to make decisions on the run, make plays, run around really. I like it.”

Another difference for the 2022 season is Kendricks no longer will play alongside outside linebacker Anthony Barr, his former UCLA roommate and teammate who joined the Vikings in 2014 but was not re-signed as a free agent. Kendricks called that “definitely weird” but that it’s “the nature of the business.”

Kendricks is building a good rapport with fellow inside linebacker Jordan Hicks, who signed as a free agent in March. Kendricks had gotten to know Hicks a bit previously at the 2015 combine and when he was teammates with his brother Mychal Kendricks in Philadelphia from 2015-17.

Kendricks called it “pretty wild” that he is entering his eighth NFL season. And he is challenging himself to be even more of a leader under the new coaching staff.

“I got to step up in ways that I can,” he said. “I got to be a leader when they least expect. Whether that’s how I work, maybe me being more verbal, maybe taking somebody to the side. I got to step up my game as a leader, for sure.”

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MN Senate Democrats make final push to legalize marijuana

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MN Senate Democrats make final push to legalize marijuana

A late push by Minnesota Senate Democrats to legalize marijuana failed Wednesday, underscoring that recreational pot use is unlikely to be allowed in Minnesota this year.

Marijuana is legal in Minnesota for certain medical purposes.

Wednesday’s effort, which failed in a procedural vote almost entirely along party lines in the Republican-controlled Senate, can be viewed through the lens of election-year politics.

Two cannabis-legalization parties are active in Minnesota, and Democrats fear that candidates from those parties can peel off some of their voters who feel strongly about marijuana. Wednesday’s maneuver by Senate Democrats, while doomed, can serve as DFLers laying down a marker that they are united in their support for total legalization.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled House passed a plan to legalize pot last year, with some Republicans voting in favor of it, and Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, has said he would sign it if it were to reach his desk.

However, support among Republicans in the Senate has never been strong, and many are stridently opposed. Some Senate Republicans have been amenable to “decriminalization” plans that would lessen penalties for pot and expunge records of those convicted for minor possession. Former state Sen. Scott Jensen, the Republican-endorsed candidate for Governor this year, supports such expungement.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Melisa Lopez Franzen called such measures “piecemeal” and said they wouldn’t suffice.

Wednesday’s vote in the Senate wasn’t actually on the merits of legalization, but on whether the proposal should be brought to the Senate floor. Every DFLer who voted on the measure voted in favor of that idea, while every Republican who voted cast their vote against it. Two retiring independents, Sens. Tom Bakk of Cook and David Tomassoni of Chisholm, split their votes, with Bakk opposing and Thomassoni supporting.

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Tartan High senior chosen as ThreeSixty scholar for four-year scholarship to St. Thomas

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Tartan High senior chosen as ThreeSixty scholar for four-year scholarship to St. Thomas

Gwynnevere Vang, a senior at Tartan High School in Oakdale, has been chosen as the ThreeSixty Journalism Scholar and will attend the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul on a four-year, full-tuition scholarship.

The honor is awarded each year to one student enrolled in the nonprofit high school journalism program, which draws participants from across the metro area. There are currently four ThreeSixty Journalism Scholars enrolled at St. Thomas.

Housed at St. Thomas since 2001, ThreeSixty Journalism launched at the University of Minnesota in 1971 as the Urban Journalism Workshop, providing basic journalism training to Minnesota high school students, particularly low-income teens and teens of color. The program was part of a nationwide effort to increase the presence of people of color in newsrooms in order to better reflect and serve increasingly diverse communities. The Pioneer Press and Star Tribune are active partners.

Vang, in a written statement, said her career goal is to travel the country — if not the world — telling stories about the earth’s natural beauty and environmental movements. She joined ThreeSixty in summer 2020 and remained active with the program during the school year, completing a TV Broadcast Camp and high school journalism classes while contributing to her school’s online newspaper, the Plaid Press.

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