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Last night, #UniteCloud sent an email to St. Cloud City Councilman Jeff Johnson. It said “Shame on you. You were voted into office to represent all of Saint Cloud. Not just the ones who look like you. I will call you out every time I see you in the future. I will also be ready to inform all not to vote for you or your ignorance. I want my city to be nice and you are not helping at all. Shame on you. Sincerely,”

Apparently, #UniteCloud didn’t like the fact that Councilman Johnson testified in support of the resolution to direct the Office of Legislative Auditor, aka OLA, to audit the multitude of programs that support the refugee resettlement program. Councilman Johnson was quoted in the St. Cloud Times as saying the “taxpayers have a right to have a good and fair audit.” Johnson also said that he’s been concerned about the lack of transparency with the refugee resettlement program.

It’s stunning that any civic organization would criticize transparency in government but that’s what #UniteCloud apparently supports. Councilman Johnson replied to the email, saying “Call me out on what? Asking for an audit as to how much money is being spent on refugee resettlement? The taxpayers are paying for this program and we have a right to full transparency.”

Telling the #UniteCloud person that he supports transparency didn’t sit well with #UniteCloud:

Wasting time where you could do some good for all and spreading hatred and ignorance. This email will be shared. SHAME ON YOU!

To his credit, Councilman Johnson didn’t reciprocate. He didn’t start calling the #UniteCloud person derogatory names. Instead, he finished the email exchange with this:

I don’t see how asking for an audit of a taxpayer funded program and spreading hated and ignorance is connected. Yes, you are free to send this email to whom ever you like.

It’s baffling how #UniteCloud can equate conducting an audit with “spreading hatred and ignorance.” According to this blog post, there’s an “Anti-Refugee Bill in MN House and Senate.” I’d love hearing Natalie Ringsmuth’s explanation for that. Rep. Steve Drazkowski’s legislation (HF3034) would direct the Legislative Auditor to “conduct financial audits of spending related to refugee resettlement costs, and money transferred.”

Here’s the text of Rep. Drazkowski’s bill:

Section 1. DIRECTION TO LEGISLATIVE AUDITOR; REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT COSTS.
(a) The legislative auditor shall conduct or contract with vendors to conduct independent third-party financial audits of federal, state, local, and nonprofit spending related to refugee resettlement costs and other services provided to refugees in Minnesota. The audits by the vendors shall be conducted as vendor resources permit and in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards issued by the United States Government Accountability Office.

(b) For purposes of this section, “independent third-party” means a vendor that is independent in accordance with government auditing standards issued by the United States Government Accountability Office.

(c) The legislative auditor shall report the results of the financial audits required under paragraph (a) to the chairs and ranking minority members of the legislative committees and divisions with jurisdiction over health and human services finance and policy by February 1, 2017.

(d) The commissioner of human services shall, in fiscal year 2017, transfer to the Office of the Legislative Auditor the amount necessary to conduct the financial audits under paragraph (a). The central office appropriation under Laws 2015, chapter 71, article 14, section 2, subdivision 3, is reduced accordingly.

#UniteCloud’s misleading headlines calls into question what their mission is. If their goal is to unite St. Cloud, then they’re failing. That’s because they’ve accused people who support transparency of “spreading hatred and ignorance.”

UPDATE: I was just contacted by Councilman Johnson. He said that he doesn’t know whether it was #UniteCloud that emailed him. Consider this a retraction of my statement that #UniteCloud threatened Councilman Johnson. That being said, whoever it was that sent the email used the same tone as was used in many of #UniteCloud’s public statements. There’s no need to retract my statement that #UniteCloud’s statement about “anti-refugee” legislation. #UniteCloud’s statement is highly deceptive, if not outright dishonest.

Further, I stand by my statement that #UniteCloud isn’t uniting St. Cloud behind their agenda. If anything, Natalie Ringsmuth’s statement have united St. Cloud against their agenda.

After Saturday night’s GOP debate, everyone is harping on the need to elect experienced leaders who have a steady hand in times of crisis. That’s essentially the pitch being made by the Establishment candidates. Earlier tonight, I wrote this article to highlight how insignificant experience is if you don’t share the right principles. Why would a constitutional conservative think about voting for Jeb Bush hours after he told CNN’s Dana Bash that he’d like to undo the Citizens United v. the FEC ruling?

The simple answer is they wouldn’t. That’s enough to disqualify Jeb from becoming the GOP nominee. That isn’t the only boneheaded thing he’s done lately, though. Rather than running the joyous campaign he promised when he got in, instead, he attacked almost everyone in the race. The only candidate he didn’t disparage is Gov. Christie.

Gov. Bush asked “We have the front-running candidate, it’s all about him,” Mr. Bush said. “And the two other gifted candidates, they’ve never had a chance to lead. Maybe they can do it, but why would we risk it?” The answer is simple. I don’t put much value on experienced people who think the Bill of Rights is antiquated. Freedom of speech isn’t granted by the government, Gov. Bush. It’s a right given to us by “Nature’s God.” In short, get your grubby progressive mitts off my right to criticize politicians.

Apparently, Gov. Bush didn’t learn that constitutional republics are messy things. They’re that way intentionally. The Founding Fathers didn’t want ‘efficient government’. Dictatorships are efficient but they don’t exactly listen to the people. Mob rule democracies aren’t significantly better. Mobs have a habit of not listening to thoughtful people in the minority. For examples of this, check out Pelosi’s iron-fisted rule of the House in 2009-2010 when shoving Obamacare down our throats.

One of the reasons why Constitution-loving conservatives have rejected the Establishment candidates is because the Establishment candidates don’t properly respect the Constitution. Jeb Bush just reminded us that he doesn’t respect the Constitution.

Let’s hope our friends in South Carolina give him the beating he deserves for abandoning the Constitution.

Earlier this morning, I wrote this article with the intent of proving Donald Trump is a First Amendment-hating tyrant who hasn’t hesitated in intimidating reporters into not writing unflattering articles about him. It’s unforgivable when a politician attempts to chill free speech and limit the rights citizens have to gather information about their government.

This shouldn’t be a partisan issue. It isn’t right that a presidential candidate has banned reporters from public events because he didn’t like their coverage of him. That’s what fascists and third world dictators do. That’s unacceptable in the United States.

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Chris Murphy is a Democratic senator from Connecticut and, as near as I can tell, a staunch advocate for censorship and a hater of religion. He can afford to be. He’s from Connecticut, which isn’t known for its deep religious roots.

Peggy Noonan is a former speechwriter for the greatest president of my lifetime, Ronald Reagan. She’s a gifted wordsmith and a lady of stature and dignity. Even when I disagree with her, which is occasionally, I still have immense respect for her. That’s because, at heart, she’s constantly cheering to see America at its best. She isn’t an ideologue. Instead, she’s a patriot. That’s why I couldn’t resist reading Ms. Noonan’s column about the fragile state of the First Amendment.

She noted that Sen. Murphy injected invective into the conversation about San Bernardino while it was happening, saying “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” Then Ms. Noonan made the observation that there’s “a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Twenty years ago, that statement would’ve been laughed at. Today, thoughtful people furrow their brow and worry that Ms. Noonan is right. Then Ms. Noonan offered this insight into winning debates:

If you really are for some new gun-control measure, if you are serious about it, you just might wait a while, until the blood has cooled, for instance, and then try to win people over to see it your way. You might offer information, argument, points of persuasion. Successful politics involves pulling people together. You don’t use a tragedy to shame and silence those who don’t see it your way; that only hardens sides.

I won’t assume that Sen. Murphy is interested in winning a debate. (Ms. Noonan didn’t either.) It’s quite possible that Sen. Murphy only wants to speak up and be heard.

Now that the blood has started cooling, it’d be easy to criticize Sen. Murphy. I won’t do that, though. I’ll just add some information and, hopefully, a little insight into this nightmare. First, the information flooding in is that this wasn’t a criminal action as much as it was a terrorist attack. Though President Obama and the FBI have tap-danced around that possibility, the truth is that that proverbial train left the station when the FBI found literally thousands of rounds of ammunition, a bomb-making factory in the Farooks’ apartment and an assortment of pipe bombs and IED in the Farooks’ SUV.

The insight I have for Sen. Murphy is to start talking about how President Obama, the FBI and our other intelligence agencies can connect the terrorist network dots faster. They clearly were caught flat-footed on San Bernardino. Couple that with their unwillingness to call it what it obviously is and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

This post is meant as a bit of a thank you to Ms. Noonan for writing something insightful on the subject of winning debate. Here’s hoping for more sanity to break out shortly.

Prof. Mark Jaede has a lengthy history of being a DFL activist/operative. I first came face-to-face with it during the state government shutdown in 2011 but I’d heard of Jaede’s activism before that. This year, Prof. Jaede has taken his activism to a new level when Prof. Jaede complained publicly about this LTE. Specifically, Prof. Jaede complained that the St. Cloud Times editorial started by asking “Why are Muslim leaders silent?” in the aftermath of the Paris terrorist attacks. Later in the editorial, the writer got more specific, saying that there “has been no such response from Muslim leaders around the world to express their condemnation of terrorism and to let the global community know the difference between the religion of Islam and extremism.”

Yesterday, Prof. Jaede posted something to SCSU’s discuss listserv. In his post to the discuss listserv, Prof. Jaede admitted that he’d done “something I have never done before. I wrote to a newspaper asking them to take down a letter to the editor.” Here’s Prof. Jaede’s letter to the St. Cloud Times:

I am writing in regard to the above-referenced letter that appeared today in the online edition of the Times.

The letter is not merely an opinion piece. It makes a claim of fact that is patently false. Muslims all over the world have denounced the terrorism of ISIS. Muslim leaders here in St. Cloud have denounced it, and the Times has printed their statements. Why would you print this letter when you know it to be both false and likely to further anti-Muslim bigotry in our area? And why have the comments been turned off? Responsible readers can’t even point out the falsehoods.

Much as I have disagreed with many opinion pieces in the Times, I have never before been moved to write to object to the publication of a piece. This letter crosses the line. It goes beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.

Please take it down, or at least publish a disclaimer pointing out the falsehood of its central claim.

Mark Jaede
St. Cloud

It’s one thing to ask a newspaper to “at least publish a disclaimer” highlighting the inaccuracies of the LTE. It’s another to ask a newspaper to unpublish an article that’s been posted on their website. That’s called censorship, which is prohibited by the First Amendment. Prof. Jaede said that “this letter crosses the line” by going “beyond free speech to libel against an entire religious community.” The remedy for crossing that line isn’t to censor the writer. It’s to impeach them with your own LTE.

Methinks it’s time for Prof. Jaede to refresh his understanding of the First Amendment.

The good news is that we’re almost to the end of President Obama’s second term as Divider-in-Chief. The bad news is that we’ll have another divider-in-chief if we elect Donald Trump. David Drucker’s article is worth the reading.

Drucker notes that Trump is known for “his vow to ‘bomb the shit out of’ the Islamic State,” though his policies are “very much like Obama — and Sen. Rand Paul.” Think of Trump’s statements about letting Putin bomb ISIS. Anyone with a brain in their head knew that Putin wasn’t interested in ISIS. Putin intervened in Syria to protect Bashar al-Assad, not to obliterate ISIS. Trump the Alpha Male, however, couldn’t admit that. That’d require him to admit he didn’t know the world like he insists he knows the world.

Take his recent statements about bombing ISIS’s oil fields. That’s when he said “I’d blow up the pipes. I’d blow up the refineries. I’d blow up every single thing. There would be nothing left. And you know what? You’d get Exxon to come in there in 2 months. You ever see how good these guys are? They’ll rebuild that sucker and it will be beautiful. And I’d ring it and I’d take the oil.”

Destroying a pipeline shouldn’t take more than a single plane. (It isn’t like ISIS has an air force.) After that’s done, ISIS would still exist. It wouldn’t be irreparably damaged. The only thing that’d happen is that President Trump would thump is chest and declare that he’d made America great again.

The American people, apart from Trump’s true believers, would know that Trump’s rhetoric would outdistance his accomplishments by a country mile. If a reporter questioned whether he’d actually accomplished anything, it’s more likely that Trump would pull that reporter’s press pass than giving a thoughtful, detailed explanation to the reporter.

There’s no getting around this fact. A Trump presidency would be another term for another divider-in-chief. We’re trying to get rid of the divider-in-chief we’ve got. We certainly don’t need another narcissistic divider-in-chief.

It’s clear that the DSCC will do everything possible to defeat Ron Johnson, (R-WI). Unfortunately for them, Russ Feingold is known for just one thing: the BCRA, aka McCain-Feingold. Russ Feingold is half of the dimwitted duo that wanted to restrict people’s ability to voice their worries about politicians during an election cycle. Let’s highlight that.

Russ Feingold thinks that government should have the right to restrict what citizens say and when they can say things. That’s because Russ Feingold is one of those politicians that think they know what’s best and that citizens have to be told what to do for their own benefit.

That’s the epitome of elitism. It’s breathtaking that elitists want to protect us uppity peasants from ourselves.

We need straight shooters like Ron Johnson in the Senate. Follow this link to contribute to Sen. Johnson’s campaign. Re-electing Sen. Johnson should be one of the Republicans’ highest priorities in 2016.

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When Wayne Lela and John McCartney wanted to distribute literature that contained their views on homosexuality and other sexual matters at Waubunsee Community College, the administration tried barring them from distributing their literature. Thankfully, Lela and McCartney fought back:

As FIRE reported last July, the pair filed their lawsuit after an administrator barred them from distributing literature on campus containing their views on homosexuality, religious liberty, and free speech rights because it was not “consistent with the philosophy, goals and mission of the college” and would be “disruptive of the college’s educational mission.” According to the complaint, a letter to Lela and McCartney from WCC’s attorney made clear that the literature’s criticism of homosexuality was the motivating factor behind the ban. Lela and McCartney are represented by the Rutherford Institute and Chicago attorneys Whitman Brisky and Noel Sterett of the law firm Mauck & Baker, LLC.

In January, my colleague Susan Kruth reported that U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman issued a preliminary injunction ordering WCC to cease its viewpoint-based censorship and allow Lela and McCartney to resume distributing literature on campus, noting that “provocative speech is entitled to the same protection as speech promoting popular notions.” Today, the Rutherford Institute and Mauck & Baker announced that the parties have settled, with WCC paying $132,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees and agreeing to allow Lela and McCartney to distribute their literature outside the doors to the student center without having to sit behind a table.

I particularly appreciate this part of the judge’s opinion:

“provocative speech is entitled to the same protection as speech promoting popular notions.”

There’s no need to protect popular speech because nobody objects to it. The only speech that needs protection is controversial or upsetting speech. That’s the category of speech that people object to. This is what’s disappointing:

While we are pleased that WCC seems to have recognized the futility of continuing to seek the authority to censor views it disagrees with, it is unfortunate and unacceptable that it took nearly a year of litigation, a court order, and a $132,000 bill to get there. After decades of judicial opinions, it should not be news to any public college administrator that the First Amendment applies fully on campus. Sadly, as FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project proves, it appears that some administrators will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into compliance with the First Amendment.

FIRE has been kicking college administrators’ butts in court for quite a while. Universities’ attorneys know what the precedents are. They’re aware of the judges’ rulings. It shouldn’t have to be this way.

Glenn Reynolds’ column highlights just how oppressive campus progressives are:

Feminist professor Laura Kipnis of Northwestern University published an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education in February, decrying “sexual paranoia” on campus and the way virtually any classroom mention of sex was being subjected to an odd sort of neo-Victorian prudery: “Students were being encouraged to regard themselves as such exquisitely sensitive creatures that an errant classroom remark could impede their education, as such hothouse flowers that an unfunny joke was likely to create lasting trauma. … In the post-Title IX landscape, sexual panic rules. Slippery slopes abound.”

This article sat poorly with campus activists, who in response reported her for sexual harassment, on the theory that this article (and a follow-up tweet — yes, that’s right, a tweet) somehow might have created a hostile environment for female students, which would violate Title IX as interpreted by the Education Department. Because, you see, female students, according to feminists, are too fragile to face disagreement. And they’ll demonstrate this fragility by subjecting you to Stalinist persecution if you challenge them, apparently.

It gets worse:

The university’s investigators wouldn’t tell her who made the charges or even, for some time, what the charges were, which is typical of these Kafkaesque proceedings. While Kipnis was allowed to bring a faculty “support person” to her hearing, “support person” was not allowed to speak. After the hearing, a Title IX complaint was filed against the speechless “support person.”

It’s clear that Northwestern doesn’t think professors are entitled to the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. It’s clear that they don’t think Professor Kipnis has the right to confront her accusers or the right to due process. What Northwestern is guilty of is conducting a kangaroo court, then pretending it’s rendered a real verdict.

Title IX, as its simple language provides, was intended to open up colleges to women, not to empower a Stalinist bureaucracy to torment people who don’t toe the feminist line. Congress needs to haul some Department of Education bureaucrats up for hearings, then rewrite Title IX to make clear that it doesn’t grant the kind of sweeping powers over academic expression that educrats have seized. Despite what they might think at the Department of Education, 1984 was written as a cautionary tale — not an instruction manual.

Simply put, 1970s feminists would bitch-slap 21st Century feminists. It’s apparent that 21st Century feminist ‘leaders’ think their followers would shrivel up and die if they heard anything that they disagree with. That’s quite the difference from the anthem of 1970s feminism. This chorus and verse highlights the difference between 21st Century feminism and 1970s feminism:

Oh yes, I am wise
But it’s wisdom born of pain
Yes, I’ve paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong
(Strong)
I am invincible
(Invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
‘Cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
‘Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

Those aren’t the words of a delicate flower that’ll wilt the minute they hear anything controversial. They’re the lyrics of a battle-tested feminist.

I’ve believed that John Chisholm, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, was a vindictive partisan prosecutor long before George Will wrote this column. Will’s column chief contribution is that it focuses attention on several key points that should receive additional highlighting. Here’s one such point:

The early-morning paramilitary-style raids on citizens’ homes were conducted by law enforcement officers, sometimes wearing bulletproof vests and lugging battering rams, pounding on doors and issuing threats. Spouses were separated as the police seized computers, including those of children still in pajamas. Clothes drawers, including the children’s, were ransacked, cellphones were confiscated and the citizens were told that it would be a crime to tell anyone of the raids.

Some raids were precursors of, others were parts of, the nastiest episode of this unlovely political season, an episode that has occurred in an unlikely place. This attempted criminalization of politics to silence people occupying just one portion of the political spectrum has happened in Wisconsin, which often has conducted robust political arguments with Midwestern civility.

That’s what the threats and intimidation wing of the Democratic Party looks like. John Chisholm is a thug with institutionalized authority to ruin innocent people’s lives. He’s the ‘leader’ of the Wisconsin chapter of the Democratic Party’s threats and intimidation wing.

In collaboration with Wisconsin’s misbegotten Government Accountability Board, which exists to regulate political speech, Chisholm has misinterpreted Wisconsin campaign law in a way that looks willful. He has done so to justify a “John Doe” process that has searched for evidence of “coordination” between Walker’s campaign and conservative issue advocacy groups.

On Oct. 14, much too late in the campaign season to rescue the political-participation rights of conservative groups, a federal judge affirmed what Chisholm surely has known all along: Since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago, the only coordination that is forbidden is between candidates and independent groups that go beyond issue advocacy to “express advocacy”, explicitly advocating the election or defeat of a particular candidate.

Why Wisconsin ever passed these John Doe laws is inexplicable. It’s authority to start a fishing expedition, something that’s contrary to the principles of probable cause and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Chisholm’s goal might’ve already been achieved:

But Chisholm’s aim, to have a chilling effect on conservative speech, has been achieved by bombarding Walker supporters with raids and subpoenas: Instead of raising money to disseminate their political speech, conservative individuals and groups, harassed and intimidated, have gone into a defensive crouch, raising little money and spending much money on defensive litigation. Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve written before about weaponized government. Chisholm’s investigation (I hate using that term in this context) fits that description perfectly. It’s the personification of weaponized government.

It’s worth noting this sentence:

Liberal groups have not been targeted for their activities that are indistinguishable from those of their conservative counterparts.

I’ve seen nasty forms of weaponized government but this is the nastiest form of it. Law enforcement officials participating in this should be investigated, too. Their actions furthered this unconstitutional exercise of abusive government. Hans Spakovsky’s op-ed nails it:

Oral arguments were heard Tuesday before the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in O’Keefe vs. Chisholm, the so-called John Doe investigation in which local prosecutors in Wisconsin tried to criminalize political speech and activity on public issues. The 7th Circuit should uphold the lower court decision halting this Star Chamber investigation that violated basic First Amendment rights.

The fact that such a secret persecution of citizen advocacy organizations even occurred ought to be an embarrassment to a state that prides itself on being a progressive bastion of individual freedom. It is more reminiscent of a banana republic than the world’s foremost democracy.

Chisholm should be disbarred for intentionally violating private citizens’ civil rights. Then he should be tried and, hopefully, be convicted, then incarcerated for many years. He’s a nasty person helping the Democratic Party chill political speech. Saying that his actions are intimidating and that his tactics are the type that would be approved of by Joe McCarthy is understatement.

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