Three Things You Need to Know - November 17, 2017

Flashy headlines don't tell the whole story on the tax plan.

Here comes the FLASH headline: The largest tax-code overhaul since the 1980’s passed through the House yesterday.

Doesn’t that sound flashy? The reality is there’s not much to get excited about. The REAL work on this plan goes down in the Senate, but probably the most interesting thing about this “tax plan” doesn’t even have anything to do with tax reform. Let’s get real here. This is still all about health care, we’re just calling it something else.

First, the tax numbers. After the Senate gets done revising this thing, individual tax cuts will be about 3.7 trillion and will raise revenue by 2.8 trillion. The Senate’s version is a marked improvement over the House’s. They improved it by increasing the child tax credit from 1,000 per child to 2,000, and they’re also - and this is the big one - repealing the Obamacare individual mandate.

The war on Obamacare never ended. It was just repackaged as “tax reform.” What was deemed “the largest tax-code overhaul in decades”, is - in reality - a tax plan that will be negated by inflation in 10 to 15 years. This is not an age-defining bill. The tax cuts make it better than what we have now, but it’s nothing earth-shattering. There’s only one age defining issue out there and that’s healthcare. This Bill could be the first salvo in scuttling Obamacare for good.

Notice that I said, “could be.” A couple days ago it was announced that the Alexander-Murray insurance company bailout would likely be included in the spending bill. This would basically negate the ultimate goal of repealing the individual mandate, and that ultimate goal is to cause Obamacare to fail. The Alexander-Murray bailout ensures that insurance companies and hospitals can continue operating like a cartel. Costs and premiums will remain high. Monthly premiums are now up to 2,100 dollars, and they’re rising. Those costs alone, completely wipe out the child tax credit.

To the Senate: if your goal really is to try and scuttle Obamacare, what good is repealing the individual mandate if you wind up bailing out the insurance companies? If you skimped on tax cuts to finally put a nail in the coffin of Obamacare, you better be prepared to go all the way. Stop the Alexander-Murray Obamacare payments, or this is all for nothing.

Franken-creep

If you always found Al Franken a little creepy, now you have confirmation.

Yesterday, Los Angeles radio news anchor Leeann Tweeden accused Al Franken of “forcibly kissing” her in 2006 when they were in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.O. tour. The kissing part of this story sounds pretty juvenile on Franken’s part, but it doesn’t appear to be the worst part of what Franken did. On the flight home, someone took a photo of Franken either groping, or looking like he is about to grope, Tweeden’s chest while she was sleeping.

The incident happened two years before the citizens of Minnesota elected Franken – the guy who played Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live – to represent them in the U.S. Senate.

Now, just like Roy Moore’s handwriting in the yearbook, we’re probably going to have days of photo-analysis trying to figure out whether either of Franken’s hands is actually making contact with Tweeden’s chest.

Either way, the photo is tasteless, disrespectful, and creepy.

Franken apologized, saying he realizes the photo’s not funny now, which actually just means he thought it was funny until he got caught.

As for the forced kiss, Tweeden says Franken wrote a skit for the two of them in which the characters kiss. She says he wanted to rehearse the kiss backstage. She did not want to. But he forced a, shall we say, “French” kiss on her anyway. She immediately shoved him away with both hands.

Franken said he doesn’t remember the rehearsal for the skit quite the same way as Tweeden does. No one could’ve seen that coming.

In Franken’s apology, he said he respects women, blah, blah, blah, and asked for a Senate ethics investigation on himself. That isn’t as noble as it might sound. A Senate ethics investigation is what you order up when you don’t want someone to get in actual trouble. Nothing ever results from those.

So, don’t even bother with the paperwork on that “ethics” investigation. We have photographic evidence of Al’s ethics and “respect for women.” Al Franken is a professional comedian. A guy like that doesn’t get elected Senator and suddenly become Ward Cleaver. The only surprise here is that it took nine years for something like this about Al Franken to come to light.

Fear the Reaper

Three letters were scrawled on the front door.

P. I. G.

Upon further inspection, crime scene investigations realized the ink was human blood.

It was the blood of actress Sharon Tate and her unborn child.

Tate had thrown a dinner party for her friends earlier that evening. She had no idea it would end in a bloody rampage.

Under Charles Manson’s instruction, members of his “family” invaded the Tate home and viciously killed everyone inside.

The next night, Manson rode with his followers to the home of Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. They were also murdered.

Manson initially was sentenced to death. But a 1972 ruling by the California Supreme Court found the state’s death penalty law at the time unconstitutional.

His sentence was changed to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Manson has been denied parole 12 times.

But now Manson may finally get the punishment he deserves.

The 83-year-old has been hospitalized and sources are saying it’s only a matter of time until he passes on.

Charles Manson will die in his bed, content with living a long life—a luxury that Sharon Tate, her unborn son Paul Richard Polanski, and 8 other victims of Manson’s insanity will never know.

Let’s hope the grim reaper comes swiftly and Manson can start doing time on his next sentence.

MORE 3 THINGS

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.

The Hong Kong protesters flocking to the streets in opposition to the Chinese government have a new symbol to display their defiance: the Stars and Stripes. Upset over the looming threat to their freedom, the American flag symbolizes everything they cherish and are fighting to preserve.

But it seems our president isn't returning the love.

Trump recently doubled down on the United States' indifference to the conflict, after initially commenting that whatever happens is between Hong Kong and China alone. But he's wrong — what happens is crucial in spreading the liberal values that America wants to accompany us on the world stage. After all, "America First" doesn't mean merely focusing on our own domestic problems. It means supporting liberal democracy everywhere.

The protests have been raging on the streets since April, when the government of Hong Kong proposed an extradition bill that would have allowed them to send accused criminals to be tried in mainland China. Of course, when dealing with a communist regime, that's a terrifying prospect — and one that threatens the judicial independence of the city. Thankfully, the protesters succeeded in getting Hong Kong's leaders to suspend the bill from consideration. But everyone knew that the bill was a blatant attempt by the Chinese government to encroach on Hong Kong's autonomy. And now Hong Kong's people are demanding full-on democratic reforms to halt any similar moves in the future.

After a generation under the "one country, two systems" policy, the people of Hong Kong are accustomed to much greater political and economic freedom relative to the rest of China. For the protesters, it's about more than a single bill. Resisting Xi Jinping and the Communist Party means the survival of a liberal democracy within distance of China's totalitarian grasp — a goal that should be shared by the United States. Instead, President Trump has retreated to his administration's flawed "America First" mindset.

This is an ideal opportunity for the United States to assert our strength by supporting democratic values abroad. In his inaugural address, Trump said he wanted "friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world" while "understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their interests first." But at what point is respecting sovereignty enabling dictatorships? American interests are shaped by the principles of our founding: political freedom, free markets, and human rights. Conversely, the interests of China's Communist Party are the exact opposite. When these values come into conflict, as they have in Hong Kong, it's our responsibility to take a stand for freedom — even if those who need it aren't within our country's borders.

Of course, that's not a call for military action. Putting pressure on Hong Kong is a matter of rhetoric and positioning — vital tenets of effective diplomacy. When it comes to heavy-handed world powers, it's an approach that can really work. When the Solidarity movement began organizing against communism in Poland, President Reagan openly condemned the Soviet military's imposition of martial law. His administration's support for the pro-democracy movement helped the Polish people gain liberal reforms from the Soviet regime. Similarly, President Trump doesn't need to be overly cautious about retribution from Xi Jinping and the Chinese government. Open, strong support for democracy in Hong Kong not only advances America's governing principles, but also weakens China's brand of authoritarianism.

After creating a commission to study the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote last month that the principles of our Constitution are central "not only to Americans," but to the rest of the world. He was right — putting "America First" means being the first advocate for freedom across the globe. Nothing shows the strength of our country more than when, in crucial moments of their own history, other nations find inspiration in our flag.

Let's join the people of Hong Kong in their defiance of tyranny.

Matt Liles is a writer and Young Voices contributor from Austin, Texas.

Summer is ending and fall is in the air. Before you know it, Christmas will be here, a time when much of the world unites to celebrate the love of family, the generosity of the human spirit, and the birth of the Christ-child in Bethlehem.

For one night only at the Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, on December 7th, join internationally-acclaimed radio host and storyteller Glenn Beck as he walks you through tales of Christmas in the way that only he can. There will be laughs, and there might be a few tears. But at the end of the night, you'll leave with a warm feeling in your heart and a smile on your face.

Reconnect to the true spirit of Christmas with Glenn Beck, in a storytelling tour de force that you won't soon forget.

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The general sale period will be Friday, August 16 at 10:00 AM MDT. Stay tuned to for updates. We look forward to sharing in the Christmas spirit with you!