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This article offers an opportunity to conduct a thought experiment. First, it’s important to establish a base of understanding:

  1. Several professors put together a panel on the Charlie Hebdo murders; the panel was promoted with the flyer quoted above, which includes the cover of the first post-murder issue, with a “CENSORED” stamp added on top of it. “The flyer was published on the various unit sponsors’ websites and elsewhere on campus.” The event, according to the participants, drew a lot of attendees, and apparently wasn’t disrupted in any way.
  2. But then, after the event, “eight people — four students, a retired professor, an adjunct professor and two others from outside the university — contacted equal opportunity personnel to express concern that the flyer ‘featured a depiction of Muhammad, which they and many other Muslims consider blasphemous and/or insulting.’” The university also got a petition from 260 students and staff members, plus about 45 others, which condemned the flyer as “very offensive” and said it “violated our religious identity and hurt our deeply held religious affiliations for our beloved prophet (peace be upon him). Knowing that these caricatures hurt and are condemned by 1.75 billion Muslims in the world, the university should not have recirculated/reproduced them.”

Here’s the summary of what should be done:

The [Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action] said in its summary for the dean, the poster had “significant negative repercussions.” And given the “large-scale” global protests against the image in question, “the organizers knew or should have known” that their decision to reprint the image “would offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity,” the office added. It said the hurt was heightened by the fact that the insulting speech came from those with “positional power” at Minnesota.

Consequently, the office wrote, “university members should condemn insults made to a religious community in the name of free speech.” Equal opportunity administrators told [John Coleman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts,] that he had the “opportunity to lead in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students by adding your own speech to the dialogue advocating for civility and respect by [college] faculty.”

It’s clear that the highest priority of the “Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action” is to a) create “an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students” and b) to not “offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity.”

My question for Dr. Coleman, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is simple. If Dr. Coleman accepts these recommendations, is he prepared to implement these recommendations for people of all faiths?

I’m not proposing that he adopt any of these recommendations. I’m not proposing anything, with the exception of applying the First Amendment consistently and correctly to all University students and employees.

It’s worth noting, though, that radical adherents of Islam react violently when confronted with objectionable depictions of Muhammad but that the vilest representatives of Christianity, aka the Westboro Baptist Church, show up at funerals with disgusting signs. Another thing worth noting is that universities are told to establish “an inclusive and welcoming environment” for Muslims but aren’t told to establish that type of environment for Christians.

Perhaps Dr. Coleman can explain that policy. Perhaps but I’d bet not.

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According to Quinnipiac’s latest polling, Scott Walker’s lead in Iowa appears to be solidifying:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is the top dog with a big early lead in the Iowa Republican Caucus, with a four-way scramble for second place and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in seventh place with 5 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This table shows the state of the race:

It’s clear that Scott Walker is the frontrunner in Iowa. It’s equally clear that Iowans don’t like Jeb much. I wrote about that in this article back in early February. Nothing’s changed that’s helped Jeb since then. It’s likely that Jeb’s campaign has written Iowa off while emphasizing winning New Hampshire or South Carolina.

Last month’s announcements by Sen. Rubio and Sen. Cruz have lifted their support, with Sen. Rubio jumping from 4% to 13% and Sen. Cruz jumping from 5% to 12%. Sen. Paul, who also announced last month, stays stuck at 12%, just like he was at 12% in February’s polling.

Iowa likely Republican Caucus participants have a 69 – 9 percent favorable opinion of Rubio, the best score in the GOP field. The Florida senator’s positions on the issues are “about right,” 65 percent say, also the best in the field.

Walker gets a 59 – 11 percent favorability rating, with 62 percent of caucus participants saying his positions on issues are “about right.” Scores for other leading Republican candidates are:
Negative 39 – 45 percent favorability rating for Bush, and 36 percent saying he’s about right on issues, while 45 percent say he’s not conservative enough;
53 – 9 percent favorable for Carson, and 56 percent saying he’s about right on the issues;
Negative 32 – 56 percent favorable for Christie, and 52 percent saying he’s not conservative enough on issues;
59 – 19 percent favorable for Cruz, and 58 percent saying he’s about right;
64 – 27 percent favorable for Huckabee, and 59 percent about right on the issues;
59 – 23 percent favorable for Paul, and 51 percent saying he’s about right.

Looking at Walker, likely Republican Caucus participants say 69-11 percent that he is honest and trustworthy; 72-10 percent that he has strong leadership qualities and 72-11 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

What that information tells me is that the activists generally think highly of this group of candidates. The only exceptions to that apparently are Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.

Conventional wisdom said that the first polls from Iowa didn’t mean much, that it was early, etc. As we’re inching closer to the first debates, it’s clear that those first polls were fairly accurate.

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Despite the facts, there’s little doubt that the DFL will attempt to blame the impending state government shutdown on Republicans. That’s why it’s imperative to remind people of the facts. First, the biggest issues looming are a) fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges and b) all-day Pre-K. Here’s where we’re at right now:

Dayton wants to spend $343 million for universal pre-K and scholarships. He believes it would get 47,000 young students get ready for kindergarten. But legislative leaders didn’t even include universal pre-K in their budget proposals. “The House is zero, the Senate is zero,” Dayton told reporters. “I consider that, A, unacceptable, and B, insulting.”

It’s not that the Republican House is doing nothing. Leaders in that chamber propose a smaller package of preschool scholarships to students from low-income families.

In other words, if there’s a shutdown and it’s because of universal pre-K, it’s because the DFL Senate and the Republican House rejected Gov. Dayton’s proposal. That isn’t the Republicans’ fault. That’s Gov. Dayton’s fault because he’s being stubborn.

For more than a year, Minnesotans have put their highest priority on fixing Minnesota’s potholed streets and highways. Here’s something I wrote last year about Minnesota’s potholes:

FOX 9 spoke with Dustin Duarte, who was treated at a hospital for injuries suffered when his car’s airbags deployed as he hit a Minneapolis pothole. You can see the photos of the aftermath above. FOX says Duarte was treated at a hospital for a mild concussion and a scratched cornea and plans followup visits with an eye doctor.

Gov. Dayton and the DFL Senate keep insisting on raising the gas tax. Republicans are resisting the DFL’s demands, partially because raising the gas tax is a failed policy, partially because the vast majority of Minnesotans oppose another tax increase:

According to our KSTP/SurveyUSA poll, 51 percent of Minnesotans disapprove of the governor’s plan while 43 percent approve. The Dayton plan calls for a sales tax on gasoline, higher license tab fees, and a higher metro-area general sales tax.

Our poll also asked Minnesotans if they approve of a House Republican transportation plan calling for $750 million over four years with no new taxes. It would rely on money from the budget surplus, bonding and some unused funds in MnDOT accounts. In our poll, 75 percent of Minnesotans approve of that plan, 17 percent disapprove and 8 percent are not sure.

If Gov. Dayton and the DFL shut down the government because Republicans said no to raising the gas tax, Republicans will be heroes because that’s what 75% of Minnesotans want.

With regard to fixing Minnesota’s potholes, Republicans will be able to say that they listened to Minnesotans while Gov. Dayton and DFL legislators will have to admit that they listened to transportation lobbyists instead of listening to Minnesotans.

Jazz Shaw’s post highlights the fact that much of what the Clintons have done isn’t illegal though it’s terribly unethical.

My take is less harsh. There’s no need for the “technically” and “may” qualifiers here: there’s nothing even remotely problematic legally here and Tobin is quite right that the “donors know exactly what they are getting.” It’s an access game, with the Clintons selling both their celebrity and their power. While that might be ethically problematic in a different environment, it’s not obviously different from any of the rest of the selling of access that’s part and parcel of American national politics.

If there is a second Clinton administration, something that I doubt will happen, it should be known as the ‘Open to the highest bidder administration’. It wouldn’t be about great policies that lead to a booming economy.

The question the national press hasn’t asked is whether the Clintons established the Foundation to fund their lavish lifestyle under the guise of a charity. There’s isn’t a question that the Clinton Foundation is a charity:

The two largest items on its list of charitable expenditures are support for the Clinton Presidential Library and paying for the Clinton Global Initiative.

The Library is, like those edifices built to house the papers and glorify the memory of other presidents, a not-altogether-worthless endeavor. But it is a monument to the vanity and the legacy of the Clintons, not the sort of “good work” helping the impoverished of the Third World, as well as the women and the girls, Hillary Clinton is always telling us she’s out to save. It may be a non-profit institution but it is not a charity.

The Clinton Global Initiative is also not a charity. According to the New York Times, it’s a “glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state and celebrities.” Those who attend it may do charitable work. But their main purpose in attending is to see and be seen talking about being charitable.

All charities are non-profits but not all non-profits are charities. Contributing to a non-profit shouldn’t entitle the ‘giver’ to receive preferential treatment from a presidential administration.

Let’s highlight the fact that it’s virtually impossible to break the law when politicians are involved. The politicians who are subject to the laws are the politicians that wrote the laws to protect themselves from committing crimes. It’s that simple.

It isn’t surprising that AFSCME is singing Gov. Dayton’s praises. It’s as surprising as finding out that the Clinton Foundation isn’t a charity.

Facing a deep natural recession and a $6 billion budget deficit, Minnesotans voted in progressive Gov. Mark Dayton, who ran on a tax-the-rich platform that included investment in people and infrastructure.

Dayton pushed a sharp increase on taxes for the top 2 percent to pay for his plan. And soon he and legislators passed laws that expanded unionization, froze college tuition, increased the minimum wage, required equal pay for women, legalized same-sex marriage, eased voter restrictions, boosted primary education spending and established all-day kindergarten.

AFSCME is right. Minnesota’s economy took right off after they legalized same-sex marriage and required equal pay for women. It’s established fact that entrepreneurs insisted that they wouldn’t hire another worker until government implemented those policies.

Legalizing same-sex marriage and requiring equal pay for women had as much to do with Minnesota’s economic growth as raising taxes on small businesses.

In Minnesota, Dayton turned that $6 billion budget deficit into a more than $2 billion surplus in just one term. Minnesota added 172,000 jobs and its 3.6 percent unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country.

Let’s compare that with this information:

Since February 2011, Wisconsin’s employable population has grown by about 100,000 people, but the number of people employed increased by about 135,000. That means employment outpaced population growth significantly.

But how does it compare with national employment growth? One important measure is the percentage of the employable population that is actually employed, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the employment-population ratio. The U.S. employment-population ratio has grown 1.5% since Mr. Walker took charge. Yet Wisconsin’s employment-population ratio has jumped 2.5%—significantly more than the national improvement rate. Wisconsin is also gaining ground against other states. In February 2011 Wisconsin ranked 12th in employment-population ratio. It now ranks ninth.

First, creating 172,000 jobs vs. creating 135,000 jobs is good news for the additional 37,000 people. Still, that isn’t a huge difference. Furthermore, Wisconsin’s LFPR is impressive:

Wisconsin’s current 68.4% labor-force participation rate is particularly noteworthy because it represents an uptick over the past year from a low of 68.1%. Nationally, the average labor-force participation rate has declined to lows last seen during the Carter administration.

The national LFPR is currently 62.7%. If that was the same as it was when President Obama was inaugurated, the national unemployment rate would be over 9%.

Wisconsin’s economy is creating jobs while cutting deeply into Wisconsin’s long-term unemployment rate. Minnesota should be that lucky.

This morning, Mike Huckabee announced that he’s running for president again. This famous movie line sums up my thoughts on Gov. Huckabee’s candidacy:

I’m sure Gov. Huckabee has some supporters just like I’m certain that the number of supporters is dwindling. Another establishment candidate doesn’t change the dynamics of the race.

HOPE, Ark. (AP) — The other man from Hope is running for president again.

Declaring Tuesday that he can bring “the kind of change that truly can get America from hope to higher ground,” former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared his Republican candidacy in the hometown he shares with former President Bill Clinton.

I said it in 2008 and I’ll repeat it now: Gov. Huckabee is a pro-life socialist. The only thing he’s conservative about is his stance on the life issue. He’s raised taxes. This is pure propaganda:

“I governed in a state that was the most lopsided and partisan in the country,” he told supporters. “No Republican governor had more Democrats and fewer Republicans. I challenged the deeply entrenched political machine that ran this state. It was tough sledding, but I learned how to govern and how to lead.”

As governor, Huckabee raised taxes and increased spending. What he didn’t do was offer any reforms.

Why would people support a has-been like Gov. Huckabee when they can support a conservative with a lengthy history of reforms? I don’t doubt that he’d be entertaining if he was admitted to the Republican presidential debates. Likewise, I don’t doubt that he’d be little more than a sideshow to serious candidates.

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Aviation Is Back At SCSU?
by Silence Dogood

The SCTimes on April 15, 2015, published an article: “SCSU engineers fly into new territory.” The following image from the article captures the essence of the story.

The picture shows Dr. Andy Bekkala and five mechanical engineering students who are working on their senior project. The article stated that it is “the first time that the college has entered the aerial division.”

According to the article “None of us have any experience building or doing anything with planes,” said team member Blake Torfin. “We do now, but we really had to research how a plane worked when we first started.”

The SAE Aero Design® Series—West competition was held April 24-26, 2015 in Van Nuys, CA. In looking up the results for SCSU, for a first-time competing, it probably was a good effort. The “Flying Huskies” were listed three times in the results:

Regular Class MAX Payload: 24th out of 41 (0.000 lbs)

Regular Class Design Results: 36th out of 41 (30.3889)

Regular Class Presentation Results 30th out of 41 (30.4000)

If I missed something in the results, I apologize in advance.

In May 2014, the Aviation program at St. Cloud State University officially closed. One is left only to wonder whether or not the experience of the aviation faculty might have been able to provide resources to the students, which might have allowed the students to achieve a higher ranking. However, it certainly seems that the recent growth in the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known in the mainstream as drones, certainly could have justified the ‘restructuring’ of the aviation rather than its closure. Even the expansion of Camp Ripley near Little Falls to accommodate drones alone might have given additional justification for maintaining a program that President Earl Potter once described as “being on the national radar.”

Faced with declining enrollments and a budget deficit over $12,000,000 for FY16, President Potter has said repeatedly stated that “we can’t cut ourselves out of financial difficulty—we have to grow our programs.” Given the growth in the demand for trained drone pilots both in the military and soon commercially, it seems a shame that this was an ‘opportunity lost.’

A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.

Harry S. Truman

This op-ed highlights how regulators make things difficult for people:

A literacy expert with years of experience in high-poverty schools. A special education instructor whose children make huge academic gains. A Harvard graduate whose students led the state in math.

These are among the countless teachers who can’t get licensed in Minnesota. That is, unless they jump through a variety of hoops, including spending time and money on redundant coursework, and even student teaching.

The reason? They were originally licensed out-of-state. To be licensed in Minnesota, they must navigate an unclear, unreasonable and inconsistent process that purports to uphold high standards but in practice prevents successful out-of-state educators from teaching our kids.

This doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t help school administrators trying to fill vacancies. It certainly doesn’t help students.

When teacher shortages are growing across the state and school leaders are reporting that licensing hurdles prevent them from recruiting qualified candidates, Minnesota can no longer justify this confounding system.

When 10 experienced educators pursuing their Minnesota licenses have grown so frustrated, they’re currently suing the Board of Teaching, which is the entity responsible for licensing decisions, it’s clear that the system is broken.

It’s time to put students first. They shouldn’t tolerate oversize classes just because a regulator, in this case the Board of Teaching, thinks that successful instructors in other states should have to do student teaching in Minnesota. Think of how absurd that sounds.

There’s no justification for that type of regulation.

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Democrats have tried criticizing Scott Walker’s economic policies as a way to argue he’s unqualified to be president. This WSJ op-ed offers some statistics that prove Scott Walker’s more than qualified:

Since February 2011, Wisconsin’s employable population has grown by about 100,000 people, but the number of people employed increased by about 135,000. That means employment outpaced population growth significantly.

But how does it compare with national employment growth? One important measure is the percentage of the employable population that is actually employed, what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls the employment-population ratio. The U.S. employment-population ratio has grown 1.5% since Mr. Walker took charge. Yet Wisconsin’s employment-population ratio has jumped 2.5%—significantly more than the national improvement rate. Wisconsin is also gaining ground against other states. In February 2011 Wisconsin ranked 12th in employment-population ratio. It now ranks ninth.

In other words, it’s pretty obvious that Gov. Walker’s policies have Wisconsin heading in the right direction. Those aren’t the only statistics that show his policies are working. Here’s more:

Wisconsin’s current 68.4% labor-force participation rate is particularly noteworthy because it represents an uptick over the past year from a low of 68.1%. Nationally, the average labor-force participation rate has declined to lows last seen during the Carter administration.

The national workforce participation rate is significantly worse:

Since February 2011, the national labor-force participation rate has dropped to 62.7%, from 64.2%.

The national unemployment rate has dropped because people quit looking for work. If the current LFPR was the same as it was when President Obama took office, unemployment would be 9%. Conversely, Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has dropped because Gov. Walker’s policies are eating into long-term unemployment.

Another thing that has to be factored into this equation is the fact that Act 10 has shrunk school districts’ expenses to the point that they’re hiring additional teachers and giving other teachers raises. That means Wisconsin is feeling the recovery. That isn’t happening nationally.

This ad from Move MN is typical DFL gimmickry:

Here’s the transcript:

We hear a lot about fiscal responsibility but when it comes to Minnesota’s transportation, some legislators in St. Paul are avoiding it. They’ve proposed a plan to fix Minnesota’s roads and bridges and promise it will not cost you one red cent. It seems to good to be true and it is. The Minnesota House is relying on budget gimmicks that won’t guarantee that our highways get fixed. Get the facts at MoveMN.org. Let’s fix transportation now and let’s do it right. Paid for by Move MN.

That’s slick advertising. It opens with talk about fixing “Minnesota’s transportation.” Then it shifts to fixing “Minnesota’s roads and bridges.” It closes with fixing transportation now and doing it right.

The House Transportation Bill focuses on fixing Minnesota’s roads and bridges. Move MN’s goal is to raise taxes to pay for transit projects. These aren’t the same goals. Republicans have correctly identified Minnesotans’ priority as wanting to fix Minnesota’s bridges and filling in Minnesota’s potholes.

Talk to people in Alexandria or Albert Lea, Little Falls or Litchfield, Brainerd or Bemidji. Transit isn’t a priority with them. They want their roads resurfaced. They don’t give a rip about the SWLRT.

Move MN is the Ben Dogra of the transportation world. Move MN knows there isn’t a groundswell of support for light rail projects just like Dogra knew there wasn’t much interest in trading for Adrian Peterson so they tried to create the impression that there was interest.

That’s failed. Apathy for light rail killed the chances for a tax increase. It’s time Move MN admitted defeat.