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I’ll risk saying this but the professional political punditry needs to get start seeing things through a policy impact perspective, not through a ‘will it play politically’ perspective. During this morning’s gubernatorial debate, Gov. Dayton said that he’s long advocated for a single-payer health care system.

What was the collective reaction from the professional political punditry? Crickets. No big deal. Keep moving.

The government, whether we’re talking about the Obama administration or the Dayton administration, is incapable of handling anything that complex. In too many instances, it’s incapable of handling fundamental responsibilities.

That professional political pundits think it isn’t a big deal to advocate for a system that’s never worked anywhere because that’s been his standard answer is shameful. Style points seem to matter more than character, policy impacts and what’s best for Minnesota.

It’s time to tune out the professional political pundits because they’re too interested in election outcomes. Unfortunately, they aren’t interested enough in policy outcomes. Jeff Johnson’s policies will make life better in Minnesota. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to build the Sandpiper Pipeline because that’ll free up railcar space so farmers can get their crops to market. That makes life better for hard-working Minnesota farmers. Unlike Gov. Dayton, Jeff Johnson will fight to open PolyMet because that’ll create hundreds of good-paying jobs. That’d make life significantly better for miners and mining communities.

Apparently, these things don’t matter to the professional political punditry from both sides of the aisle. Their tweets didn’t speak to what’s best for Minnesota. They just spoke to who won or lost based on game-changing moments and style points. That isn’t responsible journalism. That’s the type of partisanship that’s rotted our institutions and corrupted the political process.

If Republicans retake the House of Representatives and Gov. Dayton gets re-elected, Republicans will have a mandate because they spoke about issues. Gov. Dayton will have retained his title but he won’t have a mandate because he hasn’t spoken about what he’d do in his second term.

The DFL isn’t the party of no. They’re the party that won’t say no to their special interests that are driving Minnesota’s economy into the ground. Ask an Iron Ranger if they’re better off now than when Gov. Dayton took office. If they’re honest, they’ll say they aren’t. Their median household income has increased marginally. The percentage of people living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) grew by roughly 50%.

Health insurance premiums have skyrocketed. It’s virtually impossible to get changes made to policies to include or drop people from coverage. Still, Gov. Dayton insists that “it isn’t perfect” but that it’s getting better. Once a month, if not more often, we hear of another MNsure-related disaster.

Meanwhile, the professional political punditry insist that Gov. Dayton is winning because Jeff Johnson didn’t have that big game-changing moment. With all due respect, these political junkies are missing the point. Jeff Johnson has been solid. He’s provided sensible solutions to Minnesota’s biggest problems. Gov. Dayton has been dismissive, arrogant and utterly incompetent. He’s Minnesota’s version of Jimmy Carter.

It’s time to ignore the political junkies because they’re worried more about gamesmanship than doing what’s right for Minnesota. While we’re at it, it’d be great to get rid of the incompetent in the Governor’s Mansion, too.

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This editorial, from the Mesabi Daily News Editorial Board, insists on getting the Sandpiper Pipeline project built:

Symbolic meetings by elected officials being held on the rail delays that are severely affecting transportation of products and goods to market, including iron ore pellet deliveries from the Range to the Duluth-Superior Port, are feel-good nice and make for good photo opportunities.

Yes, it’s good to push for improvement of the U.S. rail system, even though the politicians are coming late to the issue, not dealing with it until it has reached a crisis level.

But what is really needed is a bipartisan meeting of all Minnesota office-holders along with business and labor leaders to endorse more urgency in getting oil pipelines up and running. Pipelines are the proven safest and most expedient way to get the liquid gold of our domestic self-sufficiency boom from the oil fields to refineries. And, pipelines also mean jobs.

Yet, it’s delay and delay and delay and a lot of political posturing when it comes to allowing and constructing pipelines. Meanwhile, some politicians put out news release after news release on the all sides of the issue, except, of course, advocating for getting pipelines built and operational.

Whether it’s the XL Keystone pipeline that would go from Canada’s western slope to Gulf states or the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline through northern Minnesota to carry North Dakota oil to a terminal in Superior, Wis., that feeds refineries across the Midwest, both are hung up in unnecessary regulatory delay.

Enough of the political rhetoric. Let’s get at the core of the issue.

Enough’s enough is right. Environmental activists are doing everything to prevent the Sandpiper Pipeline and the Keystone XL Pipeline projects from getting built. It’s time they grew up. It’s time for DFL politicians in Minnesota and Democrats nationwide to reject the consequences of these extremists’ policies.

Their goal isn’t to put in place technologies that make fossil fuels safe. These environmental activists want to eliminate the use of fossil fuels:

Sierra Club Programs
Priority Campaigns

Beyond Coal
Beyond Oil
Beyond Natural Gas
Our Wild America

The DFL agrees with the Sierra Club the vast majority of the time. Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Public Utilities Commission, aka the PUC, apparently agree with the Sierra Club. They took the unprecedented step of proposing a different route for the Sandpiper Pipeline. That step means a delay of years, not months.

That’s time farmers and miners don’t have. Farmers already have difficulty getting their crops to market. Miner have difficulty getting iron ore pellets shipped to the ports of Duluth-Superior.

Here’s how serious the Sierra Club is about ending mining, fracking and drilling:

It’s time for Minnesotans to reject the environmental extremists’ agenda. Their agenda is about stopping the fracking revolution that’s lowering gas prices and increasing the supply of natural gas, which lowers Minnesotans’ heating bills.

If the DFL wants to stand with the Sierra Club, let them explain to Minnesotans why it’s better to pay high prices to heat their homes while not creating good paying jobs on the Iron Range.

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I applaud Stewart Mills for putting this ad together:

Here’s the ad’s transcript:

It seems that Rick Nolan has based his campaign on attacking me for having long hair and a family that started a successful business. Well, I don’t apologize for either one. But politicians like Rick should apologize for using our tax dollars to make themselves, and their friends, even richer, raising their pay, sending our tax dollars to Wall Street bankers and trade deals that reward outsourcers while killing Minnesota jobs. I’m Stewart Mills and I approve this message because I’m on your side, not their’s.

Rick Nolan, Nancy Pelosi and Democrats insist that Nolan’s on the side of the people of Minnesota’s Eighth District because he isn’t rich. Rick Nolan, Nancy Pelosi and Democrats insist that Stewart Mills can’t be on the side of the people of Minnesota’s Eighth District because he’s rich. What utter dishonesty.

  1. When Rick Nolan sided with Twin Cities environmentalists to oppose final passage of a bill that would streamline the federal permitting process, that wasn’t proof that Nolan was on the miners’ side.
  2. When Rick Nolan proposed building a mining institute, that wasn’t proof that Nolan was on the miners’ side. It was proof he wanted to spend money on something that wouldn’t help create mining jobs.
  3. When Rick Nolan and Nancy Pelosi fire off a steady stream of ads about Stewart Mills’ wealth, isn’t that proof that they don’t want others to be wealthy?

The American Dream is to help the next generation have it better than your generation. Stewart Mills’ family built a business that’s created jobs with great benefits while saving people tons of money through cheap prices in great locations.

Mills Fleet Farm is successful because the Mills family identified a need for rural Minnesota, then built a region-wide chain of stores that caters to rural and exurban shoppers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and North Dakota. I’ve always thought that Mills catered to people who work with their hands on their farms, their vehicles and their back yards.

If Stewart Mills is as out of touch with Minnesota’s Eighth District, why is Mills Fleet Farm the biggest retail chain in the district? If Mills were as out of touch as Nolan, Pelosi and the Democrats insist, Mills Fleet Farm wouldn’t be the expanding retail chain it is.

There’s another question Eighth District voters should ask. What do Rick Nolan and Nancy Pelosi have in common? ‘San Fran Nan’ wouldn’t know a thing about Minnesota’s Eighth District. She couldn’t identify with the Eighth District’s culture. She certainly hasn’t approved of the Eighth District’s pro-life and pro-Second Amendment views. She’s as pro-gun control as any member of Congress. She’s as pro-environmental regulation as any member of Congress, too.

Rick Nolan voted with Nancy Pelosi to allow the Secretary of the Army and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from unilaterally rewriting the Clean Water Act without an act of Congress. That doesn’t sound like something the mining industry would approve of.

Rick Nolan voted with Nancy Pelosi in opposing making America energy independent. That’s foolish considering how cheaper energy prices would make the Eighth District industries more profitable and more likely to keep people employed.

Nolan and Pelosi voted to let money appropriated to the Defense Department to be used to implement “climate change assessments and development plans.” Jim Oberstar was defeated because he voted for Cap and Trade. Nolan’s voting record is more green than Oberstar’s.

There isn’t any doubt which candidate is more in touch with the Eighth District’s people. Stewart Mills, the man whose family owns the biggest retail chain serving rural Minnesota, is more in touch with Eighth District voters than Rick Nolan, the guy who voted a) against energy independence and b) for greater government interference with Eighth District businesses.

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I don’t have many quotes to rely on but my impression is that tonight’s debate marked the night the gloves came off. Jeff Johnson went after Gov. Dayton for not knowing about PSLs being in the Vikings bill that Dayton negotiated and signed. Later, he said that Gov. Dayton’s tax increases didn’t just hit richest 2%, highlighting the health insurance tax, the cigarette tax and wheelage tax that hits everyone.

Commissioner Johnson was especially feisty on the Sandpiper Pipeline Project, saying that it was Gov. Dayton’s appointees who voted essentially to kill the pipeline project. Gov. Dayton’s smug dismissal that Commissioner Johnson probably “didn’t understand the process” was immediately greeted by Commissioner Johnson saying that he understood the process and that Gov. Dayton’s appointees to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to kill the project. Johnson then said that Gov. Dayton couldn’t hide by saying it was someone else who voted on the project. Commissioner Johnson finished by saying that “Sometimes, Governor, you have to take responsibility.”

Gov. Dayton criticized Commissioner Johnson by saying that “Taxes should be low, broad and simple isn’t a tax policy. It’s a slogan.” Tonight, Gov. Dayton proposed raising taxes on the middle class again by raising the gas tax again. Then he went back to talking about cutting taxes on the middle class. His closing statement from another planet then stated that Minnesota was heading in the right direction because he’d solved the deficit problem.

The arrogance was disgusting. Again.

The question Gov. Dayton didn’t explain is why he thinks Minnesota’s economy is doing well. The unemployment rate is low but monthly revenues aren’t meeting projections. Minnesota’s economy lost 4,200 jobs in July, something Gov. Dayton didn’t address.

Hannah Nicollet got in on the Dayton bashing, too, when the subject turned to the Vikings stadium disaster, saying that when her daughter throws a hissy fit in a store, she lets her daughter’s tantrum run its course. Then she said that sometimes, a governor has to have the spine to say no when the Vikings were throwing their hissy fit.

Gov. Dayton replied, saying that 7,500 people are working, “many of them minorities”, before asking if the candidates would like to tell them that the stadium bill is a disaster. Commissioner Johnson said that he’d stand by his characterization.

In his closing statement, Gov. Dayton said that his biggest priority for another term will be education. Earlier, he said that raising taxes on gas would be his priority. When everything’s a priority, nothing is a priority.

Gov. Dayton was exceptionally dismissive tonight. When Commissioner Johnson talked about 50% of Minnesotans being underemployed, Gov. Dayton insisted that that was “nonsense.” When Commissioner Johnson said that the statistic came from Dayton’s administration, Gov. Dayton didn’t know how to respond.

This likely won’t get written anywhere else but Gov. Dayton sounded exceptionally arrogant, dismissive and in a foul mood. His response to Commissioner Johnson’s talk about underemployment essentially was that it was nonsense. That’s what an out-of-touch governor sounds like. Article after article talks about how many part-time jobs are getting created. How can Gov. Dayton say that verified facts are nonsense?

This was Dayton at his most unlikable, dismissive worst. He was snotty. He didn’t agree with anything Jeff Johnson said on the big issues. He stuck to his talking points.

I’m going through the videotape of the Mills vs. Nolan debate. When they debated the issue of pipelines, something stunning happened. It wasn’t surprising. It was that Rick Nolan exposed himself as totally trusting government. Here’s the exchange I’m talking about:

Here’s the key part of the back-and-forth:

NOLAN: When you’re talking about Keystone, the TEA Party Republicans brought a bill before the House of Representatives that exempted Keystone, a foreign corporation, from complying with the EPA, from complying with the Army Corps of Engineers permits for installation and maintenance, for having to post financial assurances for when those accidents inevitably occur. Would you have voted for a bill like that? No. I’m for the Keystone and for Sandpiper but I want it built right. We’ve proven that we have the technology and the know-how to do it right if we have the political will. But we can’t let foreign corporations come in here willy nilly and have their way with us…
MILLS: Well, I keep getting accused of being a TEA Partier but I’m not sure if that’s entirely accurate but, nonetheless, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers has been weaponized against projects such as Keystone and, you know what, after years and years of trying to get it done, if these agencies aren’t looking for how it can be done but trying every reason to get it stopped, you know what, it’s time to get the people to take control of their government from the bureaucracies and the various agencies so we can get projects like Keystone going…

This isn’t surprising but it’s stunning. Rick Nolan’s belief that bureaucracies, especially the EPA, are honest arbiters of all that’s virtuous is stunningly naïve. What justification is there for that other-worldly opinion? Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-WI), has a mini-series on YouTube titled Victims of Government. I’d love seeing Nolan explain how the EPA’s actions in this article aren’t utterly corrupt. Let’s hear him explain how private property owners aren’t getting victimized by the zealots running the EPA. Here’s a story where the EPA showed itself to be weaponized:

[Andy Johnson] and his wife built a small pond on their rural property using the stream flowing through it. They stocked the pond with trout so that their three small children could fish. The pond is an oasis for wildlife such as ducks and geese passing through.

It is precisely the sort of industriousness that reasonable people and zealous stewards of the environment applaud. But the EPA is made up of neither reasonable people nor zealous stewards of the environment.

They are crazed hypocrites greedy for unchecked power and hell-bent on destroying the passions that connect people to the nature surrounding them. Like the Food and Drug Administration in the movie “Dallas Buyers Club,” the EPA has become the face of absolute power in the hands of blind government bureaucrats.

That is why the faceless henchmen of the EPA have come after Mr. Johnson and his family, charging them with violating federal law and threatening to bankrupt them. These EPA thugs ordered the Johnsons to destroy the pond they built and threatened to fine them $75,000 a day for being in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Stewart Mills is exactly right when he talks about the EPA being an agency that’s looking for ways to stop Keystone and Sandpiper. This is proof that the EPA isn’t interested in common sense. It’s interested in destroying private property rights.

Earlier in that segment of the debate, Nolan talked about supporting the Sandpiper Pipeline project, with this caveat. He wanted the route changed just slightly. Mills said that that’s just a way to delay the project. That would give Nolan’s allies in the environmental movement another opportunity to sabotage the project with attrition litigation. It’s time for the Iron Range to realize that Rick Nolan doesn’t support the miners’ lifestyle. He’s only come out for Keystone once it became politically imperative to say yes to the miners.

Let’s remember that Nolan’s first proposal on PolyMet was to propose a mining institute somewhere on the Range:

Northeastern Minnesota would be home to a major new national research center dedicated to the advancement of minerals research, mining technology and the environment, and is expected to generate several thousand new jobs, under a plan announced today by Rick Nolan, the DFL-endorsed candidate for Eighth District Congress.

The proposal is strongly supported by former Eighth District U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resource Research Institute, NRRI, and the UMD Swenson College of Science and Engineering.

At a news conference in Duluth and with press interviews across the Iron Range, Nolan said he will immediately introduce legislation to establish the United States Technical Institute for Mining and the Environment (TIME) upon taking office in January 2013. The exact northeastern Minnesota location for the TIME Center will be selected from proposals developed by the state, municipal and county governments and their private sector partners.

Nolan’s support for the two biggest projects in northern Minnesota has been tepid at best, artificial at worst.

The Iron Range can’t afford Rick Nolan’s naïve belief that the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are honest arbiters of this nation’s environmental laws. He’s standing in the way of one important project after another. He’s the believer in sentences that are always 4 words too long. He’ll never say that he supports PolyMet. Period. It’s always that he supports PolyMet…if it’s done right. He’s never said that he supports the Sandpiper Pipeline project. It’s always that he supports Sandpiper…if it’s done right.

It’s time for the Iron Range to reject Rick Nolan. If they reject his caveated support of all things mining, they will have gotten things right.

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Guy Benson’s post on Sen. Mark Udall’s recent difficulties highlights why Udall is fighting an uphill fight. Benson highlighted this video especially:

Here’s the transcript of the exchange between Sen. Udall and Rep. Gardner:

REP. GARDNER: I would just like to ask Sen. Udall this question. What is the price you’d put on carbon?
SEN. UDALL: Congressman, the price I would put on … is the opportunity we would miss if we don’t go all in. We’ve had floods, we’ve had fires, we’ve had doubts, we have the leading climate scientists in this state telling us it’s happening. We know it’s happening. Farmers know it’s happening. The ski areas know it’s happening. We all know it’s happening. So let’s lean forward. Let’s create our future. Congressman Gardner is looking backwards. Let’s look forward and embrace the future and embrace these technologies. They’re right there for the taking.
I’m looking forward to the next energy bill.
REP. GARDNER: What is the cost that you will put on with your tax?
SEN. UDALL: Congressman, the point is that we’ve shown that you can put a price on pollution. We’ve done it over and over again.
REP. GARDNER: How much?
SEN. UDALL: When we send those signals to the market. We’ve got a lot of market-oriented people here today. When we send those signals to the marketplace, our markets respond because we’ve got the best system of capitalism, we’ve got the best entrepreneurs. We’re going to innovate. That’s how we make the future. We’re in a global economic race and we’re going to innovate to create jobs and grow the economy.

Sen. Udall clearly didn’t want to talk about the size of his tax increase. His answer is typical liberal psychobabble. His answer wasn’t about the real world. It was purely in the hypothetical world. The other thing that’s clear is that Sen. Udall didn’t present proof that the government would be good at putting “a price on pollution.” That’s yet another piece of hypothetical, wishful thinking liberalism. No proof is needed because everything is settled according to Sen. Udall.

This debate wasn’t about debating the merits of their policies. For Sen. Udall, this was a GOTV operation. His statements are filled with pandering to the environmental activists that Democrats need to turn out en masse to offset President Obama’s drag on Democrats. It’s difficult to believe that Democrats buy climate change. I think it’s all about Democrats pandering to environmental activists for money and votes.

Still, Cory Gardner’s persistence was smart. He insisted that Sen. Udall put a price tag on Udall’s Cap and Trade legislation. Gardner wouldn’t let him talk about “the environment” in the theoretical sense. Gardner made Udall talk about it in dollars and cents specifics. I’m betting that the NRSC will soon be up with advertising that talks about higher energy costs hurting families that are already squeezed by the Obama-Democrat economy.

This is high stakes GOTV operations. For his part, Rep. Gardner has the better argument because it’s the question that people across the nation are asking.
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This article highlights one of the difficulties Mary Burke faces that isn’t related to her plagiarism fiasco. This difficulty is of a totally different nature:

Burke’s challenge against Walker: closing the turnout gap: Craig Gilbert of the Journal Sentinel writes: “Midterm elections are as much about which people vote as they are about how people vote. And Wisconsin’s race for governor is a perfect case in point. In recent weeks, Gov. Scott Walker has carved out a narrow lead over challenger Mary Burke among the most likely voters, even though the race hasn’t changed, and remains deadlocked, among registered voters overall. The central challenge for Democrats in this race has always been turning out as many of their “drop-off voters” as possible, those who are drawn to the polls in presidential years but frequently drop out in other elections. In the last presidential race in the state, almost 3.1 million people voted. In the last midterm, just under 2.2 million people voted. Presidential-only voters are disproportionately nonwhite, lower-income and younger. When they do vote, they expand the electorate, and Democratic candidates tend to do better.”

One of the least talked about things in this race, and I’m definitely guilty of this, is the fact that Gov. Walker has built a great ground game. That’s partially due to an energized Republican Party, partially due to organizing for the Democrats’ ill-fated recall election and partially due to Americans for Prosperity’s work in putting together an independent GOTV operation.

Couple that with the fact that poll after poll shows that Wisconsin voters are generally satisfied with the direction Wisconsin’s heading and you realize that Ms. Burke is facing an uphill climb. That being said, she’s probably happy that she isn’t facing the steep uphill climb that Alison Lundergan-Grimes is facing.

That race was heading in Mitch McConnell’s direction heading into this weekend. Now it’s heading full steam ahead in Sen. McConnell’s direction. This weekend, Project Veritas published a video that caught Ms. Lundergan-Grimes’ campaign staffers saying that Ms. Lundergan-Grimes doesn’t really support coal mining but she has to say that to get elected. That’s like Ms. Burke telling a rally in Green Bay that she isn’t a Packers fan.

Ms. Lundergan-Grimes must have a good security detail. Let’s hope she doesn’t have Julia Pierson heading her security detail.

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While this article doesn’t directly blame environmental activists for the construction delay of the Sandpiper pipeline, it certainly hints that direction:

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is taking longer than expected to approve possible routes for the pipeline that need to be thoroughly studied for environmental and social impacts. The company hoped to limit those possible routes to two options.

On Sept. 11, the PUC opened up the possibility that other routes might have to be included for study.

Several groups have organized to propose additional routes, or oppose the line altogether, saying Minnesota shouldn’t have to bear the risk for oil that will mostly go to other states. They cite the possibility of pipeline spills into northern Minnesota lakes, rivers, and wetlands, and some groups have proposed new routes that would take the line south, through more farmland and urban areas.

First, pipelines are the safest way of transporting oil from Point A to Point B. Nothing else comes close. Second, if we don’t build the pipelines in a timely fashion, the railcar shortage will get worse.

That’s terrible news for farmers who need to get their crops to market. It’s terrible news for mining companies who need to get their iron ore to the steel mills in the Rust Belt before the Great Lakes freeze over for the winter.

This article highlights what’s at stake:

The delay also will affect North Dakota oil producers, though it shouldn’t have an immediate impact on production, according to North Dakota Pipeline Authority Director Justin Kringstad. “Projects like this are vital to move our crude safely to markets throughout the U.S.,” Kringstad said.

North Dakota, the nation’s second-leading producer of oil behind Texas, has more than doubled its oil production in the last two years, to more than 1 million barrels a day. A barrel is equivalent to 42 gallons. But due to the lack of pipeline capacity, about 70 percent of the state’s daily oil production is being shipped by rail.

These environmental activists convinced the PUC, aka the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, to delay construction in the hopes of eventually causing Enbridge to abandon building the pipeline altogether. Therein lies these activists’ evil intentions.

These environmental activists care only about stopping the pipeline from getting built. They don’t care that farmers and miners are getting hurt by the railcar shortage. I haven’t seen proof that these activists give a minute’s consideration to what’s helpful to farmers and miners.

That’s because these environmental activists have tunnel vision. All they want is to reject anything to do with fossil fuels. I was stunned when I learned that the Sierra Club opposes natural gas:

Natural gas drillers exploit government loopholes, ignore decades-old environmental protections, and disregard the health of entire communities. “Fracking,” a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.

We can’t trust these organizations of so-called environmental activists. In their words, these ill-informed or dishonest environmental activists argue that natural gas contaminates drinking water, pollutes the air and causes earthquakes.

Why should I trust activists that are that dishonest with their public statements? Why shouldn’t I think that they’re attempting to make life worse, not better, for the average Minnesotan?

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The thing that came through when KARE11 interviewed David Schultz about the just-concluded Franken-McFadden debate was how disinterested Prof. Schultz seemed in the right policies. That’s perhaps a bit harsh but that’s what I took from the interview. Here’s what Prof. Schultz said that got me thinking:

In many ways, the debate went about exactly the way both sides wanted it to go.

Dr. Schultz, was it Sen. Franken’s goal to get his butt kicked in that debate? That isn’t what was reported but that’s what happened.

One potential game-changing moment came when Franken and McFadden debated the railcar shortage, which is a huge issue in northern and rural Minnesota, Franken said that he’d talked with the Surface Transportation Board since getting to DC and that he’d worked with David Vitter of Louisiana on making it cheaper to file a complaint with the Surface Transportation Board. When it was McFadden’s turn, he criticized Franken. Here’s what he said:

Al, with all due respect, your lack of an energy policy and the lack of an energy policy from President Obama has caused the rail car shortage. There’s not been one pipeline built. You haven’t approved any pipeline. The Keystone Pipeline has been under the review process for 6 years. That is crazy. That is too long. Pipelines are proven to be the most effective, the most efficient, the most environmentally sensitive way to transport oil. Until you start passing pipelines, we’ll have a railcar shortage. I know how to fix this economy. I know how to get us back on the road to growth and prosperity and you are putting Band-Aids as opposed to going to root causes. We need pipelines in this country. I want everyone in this room and in this state I am for pipelines. I will get them built.

Sen. Franken sounded like a typical DC politician who wanted to sound like he was doing something without really fixing anything. Sen. Franken also sounded like a politician who didn’t want to cross his special interest allies.

By comparison, McFadden sounded like a person not beholden to special interests. He also sounded like a solutions-oriented leader intent on making Minnesotans’ lives better.

Sen. Franken sounded like a politician who wanted to make it easier to file complaints. That won’t get the farmers’ grain to market or the miners’ ore to the shipping port. Schultz apparently thinks it’s more important to evaluate how politicians look rather than opine on whether that politician’s policies will solve problems or make Minnesotans’ lives better.

Admittedly, that’s a harsh indictment of Prof. Schultz. This isn’t about being gentle. It’s about getting people’s priorities right. That includes high profile professors’ priorities, too.

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This week, Forum Media endorsed GOP Senate candidate Mike McFadden:

If Mike McFadden brings the enthusiasm and focus to the U.S. Senate that he has brought to his candidacy, Minnesotans will be well served. Republican McFadden is challenging first-term Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and on balance the challenger is making the case for change.

Frankly, I’ve been impressed with Mr. McFadden’s campaign. He’s raised lots of money. He’s put together a better-than-competent GOTV operation and he’s a policy heavyweight.

While Franken has raised tons of money, the thing he doesn’t have is gravitas. Honestly, Franken’s a policy lightweight.

Nonetheless, McFadden’s conservative recipe for Senate service comports well with the needs of Minnesota and the nation in the 21st century. His success in the private sector, while not necessarily a requirement for public office, is an impressive tool in his public policy kit. His dedication to education, including work in Minnesota to demonstrate what can be done if student-centered policies are implemented, can inform his Senate service.

McFadden’s grasp of public policy helped him pummel Franken during their debate Wednesday.

After Franken talked about talking to the Surface Transportation Board about Minnesota’s railcar shortage, McFadden pounced, saying that we’ll have a railcar shortage until we start building pipelines. In a single exchange, he highlighted his leadership and grasp of policy. Meanwhile, Franken sounded like a typical politician who talks about things that are somewhat related but doesn’t solve problems.

Franken’s kept his head down so long that he hasn’t figured out how to solve problems. He hasn’t voted to create more pipelines, which is causing the railcar shortage. He hasn’t pushed the EPA to accelerate the regulatory review process on PolyMet.

In other words, the thing Franken’s famous for is taking up space in the Senate. Otherwise, they could train a yellow dog to vote with President Obama 159 times out of 161 votes.

Forum is right. Mike McFadden is making a substantive case for why he should be a US senator and why Al Franken simply isn’t qualified to be a US senator. Few people can say they’re better off today than when Barack Obama and Al Franken took office. The only people who are better off are stock traders and government employees. Their lives are going gangbusters.

Small businesses and people working in heavily regulated industries are taking a beating. Mike McFadden has a plan to grow the American economy at 4-5% annual growth. Al Franken and President Obama have proposed and voted for economic policies that have led to the slowest growing recovery in modern history.

The opportunity is now. We can vote for economic vitality or we can vote for more of the same. We can vote for leadership or we can vote for an erstwhile comedian who’s kept his head down while Minnesota’s economy struggled.

That’s a pretty each choice.

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