Crystal ball: More of the same, old madness

Tom West, West Words
Tom West, West Words

A new year is upon us and it’s time to get out the trusty crystal ball. The visions in the ball are crystal clear, but are still hard to read through the duct tape and Elmer’s glue that hold everything together. Nonetheless, here are a dozen things to expect in 2014:

1. On the local front, Byron Smith will stand trial, but not locally. Everybody in Little Falls who has not yet been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s has an opinion on Smith’s case, so expect a change of venue.

That move could decide the case. The further from the Twin Cities, the stronger is the belief in property rights. This is a classic case in deciding where the line is drawn between protecting your home and executing intruders.

The trial could conceivably be moved as far away as Moorhead.

2. Under normal circumstances, this fall’s election should be big for Republicans. That’s because Barak Obama is a Democrat, and the president’s party almost always takes it on the chin in the mid-term election.

Since U.S. senators have been elected, only three Minnesota senators have won from the president’s party in the mid-term election, the last time in 1982.

Furthermore, only eight of 25 presidential party candidates for Minnesota governor have won in the mid-term over that same span.

However, any GOP success assumes that such a thing as the Republican Party still exists in Minnesota.  That’s open to debate. Minnesota has several Tea Party chapters. It also has a large contingent who follow Ron Paul’s version of libertarianism. And then it has the more classically conservative Republicans.

And none of them has much money to speak of.

That said, in two close races, Republican Marty Seifert will defeat Mark Dayton for governor and Al Franken will hold onto his U.S. Senate seat.

Dayton will lose because the Unaffordable Care Act will be shackled to his ankle like an anchor. For those who haven’t noticed, MnSure doesn’t have any better computer programmers than the feds do. Plus, Dayton’s appointee to run it went to Costa Rica for two weeks in the middle of the “un-rollout.”

He had enough sense to fire her, but what’s really going to hurt next November are all the votes lost to people who were told they could keep their existing health insurance, but then had it cancelled and replaced by a more expensive policy.

Dayton garnered 43.7 percent of the vote to beat Republican Tom Emmer, who ran an inept campaign, by only 9,000 votes in 2010—even though Independence Party candidate Tom Horner, a former Republican, probably drew more votes from the GOP than the DFL. Seifert will run a better race and win, helped by the Independence Party being less of a factor.

3. As for Franken, the Republicans will treat their candidate, whomever it is, the same way they treated Kurt Bills, who lost to Sen. Amy Klobuchar in 2012: Endorse with great fanfare, and then fail to support. Franken has little to run on other than being the deciding vote for the Unaffordable Care Act and backing IRS targeting of conservative groups, but he does have plenty of money, so will win.

4. Republicans will regain control of the U.S. Senate after states where pot is legal forget to vote.Obama will spend the rest of his term using his veto stamp.

5. In the race for 8th District Congress, DFLer Rick Nolan will win another term for two reasons: Republican Stuart Mills won’t be able to sneak up on him like Chip Cravaack did on Jim Oberstar in 2010, and Nolan is smart enough to stay as far away from Obamacare as possible.

6. Meanwhile, the Minnesota House will end in a tie between Democrats and Republicans. It’s happened before — in 1978. But, because the state Senate is not up for election, the only difference will be that the next state government shutdown will occur sooner.

7. This spring, while it can still function, the Legislature will raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour. The jobless rate will go up — and be blamed on George W. Bush.

8. The bubble on Wall Street will break when investors finally notice that most quarterly reports lack one essential ingredient — earnings.

9. Israel will put a stop to Iran’s nuclear activity. Peace will reign in the Middle East. Just kidding.

10. President Obama, once concerned about sending a message to Syrian President Assad, will ignore him as long as Assad continues killing his own people using only conventional weapons.

11. A terror attack will occur somewhere in Russia during the Olympics..

12. On the sports front, Wild coach Mike Yeo doesn’t survive the season; the Twins lose less than 90 games but miss the playoffs and Gardy retires; the Wolves make the playoffs, are promptly eliminated and Rick Adelman retires;  the Vikes have a worse season than last year and G.M. Rick Spielman is fired; the Gopher football team has a worse record thanks to Ohio State and Michigan being on the schedule; the Gopher men’s basketball team makes the NCAA and promptly loses; and the Gopher men’s and women’s hockey teams both win NCAA titles.

Lots more will happen, but if I told you, it wouldn’t be any fun. Better to be surprised in 2014, than bored, not that one has to worry much about that.

Tom West is editor and general manager of the Record. Reach him at (320) 616-1932 or by email at [email protected].