Archive for February, 2012

Here in central Minnesota, Republicans had a decent day. King Banaian, aka Landslide Banaian, must be smiling after learning that Minden Township was added to his district. While Rep. Gottwalt’s district lost a key city in Rockville, his district is still a solid GOP district.

As a result of those shifts, Sen. John Pederson must be smiling, too. He lost Rockville, a strong GOP city, but gained Minden Township, a strong GOP township.

Rep. Gottwalt’s loss, Rockville, is Larry Hosch’s loss, too. Rep. Hosch’s red district just got substantially more red.

A new district was created east of St. Cloud that’s strongly Republican. That district will include the cities of Rice, Foley, Becker, Clear Lake and Clearwater. The candidate there should consistently get 65% of the vote once they get to know it.

I’m told that the new district has two potentially strong candidates ready to run in the district, too.

While it was a good day for the GOP, it would’ve been better had the Special Redistricting Panel done what it said it was going to do in its rulings. Instead, the SRP chose to break up lots of smaller cities than was warranted.

On the House side, the legislative map split 39 cities. The SRP map split up 89 cities. That’s bad news for those cities because they’ve now been handed an expensive bill for holding elections. Instead of being able to order uniform ballots for the entire city as much as possible, these cities will now have to order multiple versions of ballots for the multiple House districts.

In addition to that, they’ll have to find new polling places so ballots from the multiple districts don’t get mixed together.

Most disappointing, though, is the court’s capriciousness in initially stating that they’d abide by the 2002 rulings, then ignoring those principles in putting this map together.

Thanks to their maps, future legislatures can’t count on the courts’ rulings as being a guide for future redistricting cycles. They’ve essentially destabilized the process. They’ve essentially put themselves in charge of the process, too.

They’ve now entered the political realm. That’s dangerous. It’s time for the legislature to write out the courts as much as possible. They should establish clear principles that must be followed consistently.

It’s time to establish some stability in our redistricting process. The legislative and executive branches need it. Finally, it’s time for the judicial branch to stay out redistricting as much as possible.

Hugh Hewitt is a decent interviewer. He’s even a decent blogger. When it comes to Mitt Romney, he’s ignorant as hell. This observation proves that:

I haven’t asked anyone from Team Santorum or Team Paul, but think it through. The four remaining candidates have been out there shaking a millions hands, holding a thousand events and putting up with inane questions for a year, and they are going to stand aside for a group of “senior statesmen” to come up with a new candidate? Just absurd. Even if the extremely unlikely situation of a deadlock occurs, they’ll get into a room and pull a name out of a hat before that happens, with winner agreeing to pick one of the other two to be the Veep.

But the far more likely sequence is that Romney will in fact be the nominee and a strong one, just as the Chicago gang fears.

Mitt might still win the nomination but the thought of Mitt being a strong nominee is foolish. Just yesterday, a more thoughtful man, Scott Johnson, made this observation:

Mitt is an inspirational candidate. The problem is that what [Mitt] inspires is intense apathy among a substantial number of conservatives and Republicans.

Mitt’s chief trait is inspiring apathy. After that, Mitt’s best trait is inspiring disgust. That’s just reality. Two weeks ago, veteran GOP consultant Ed Rollins said in an interview that the other candidates hated Mitt by the time he dropped out of the race during his CPAC speech in 2008.

This time, Mitt’s scorched earth campaigning, combined with his saturation bombing negative attacks on each of the other candidates make him one of the most despised political figures in American politics. Conservative activists are disgusted by Mitt almost as much as they’re disgusted by President Obama.

This paragraph shows how out of touch Hewitt is with the base:

The Kos Kids and the UAW will try and bleed Romney by voting for Santorum in Michigan’s “open” primary, but the GOP base knows much more than the MSM gives it credit for and knows the Chicago gang and its allies are trying to bleed their strongest general election nominee.

That paragraph should read “The GOP base knows much more than Hugh Hewitt gives them credit for. They know Mitt isn’t one of them. They know he’s the guy who drank the global warming Kool-Aid. Thanks to Mitt’s behavior in Ohio, they know Mitt’s the spineless candidate in the race.”

A discussion of Mitt’s greatest conservative accomplishments wouldn’t last long. That discussion might not take a full paragraph.

When Mitt loses, whether it’s now or in the general election, it’d be nice to get the conservative Hugh Hewitt back. The guy masquerading as Hewitt isn’t a conservative. He’s a Romneybot, willing to defend Mitt regardless of reality.

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When I wrote this post last week, I questioned why Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk would propose to build a Vikings Stadium on the proceeds from charitable gaming. This post questions the wisdom of policymaking based on a volatile funding mechanism.

Last week, I cited a 2009 House Research study. That study said that after tax profits from charitable gambling topped $1,500,000,000 in 2000. That study showed that those profits had dropped to $1,032,000,000 in 2008.

With those statistics in mind, the question must be asked why Sen. Bakk, the former Senate Tax Committee chairman, would propose funding a billion dollar project on such a volatile, unreliable funding source.

Does he think that Ryan Winkler is going to sprinkle pixie dust on e-tabs and suddenly the revenues will explode? Sen. Bakk’s proposal is as much guesswork as it is high finance.

What’s worse, as I explained in last week’s post, is that e-tabs will hurt charitable gambling, hurting everything from high school marching bands and hockey teams to local civic clubs.

This is, without a doubt, the worst stadium proposal ever put together. Therein lies the catch. It isn’t even legislation.

If Gov. Dayton, Sen. Bakk and others don’t fix the problem with charitable gambling interests, there will be an intense lobbying effort to stop this type of proposal. It’s the type of fight politicians don’t need heading into an uncertain election cycle.

That’s before considering the fact that the Minneapolis City Council has to approve of the proposal. That, by itself, will take time to get the votes together.

Factor in the Legislature taking its annual Easter break and you’re down to a little less than a month to send the stadium bill through all of the committees with jurisdiction in both the House and Senate and you’re pretty much looking at a doomed deal, at least without a special session.

In short, the likelihood of a stadium vote happening this year are remote. That’s as it should be with a proposal with this flimsy of a funding mechanism.

Gov. Dayton and Sen. Bakk should be ashamed for proposing and approving the plan.

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John Hinderaker has been a stalwart supporter of Mitt Romney’s for quite some time. That’s why it isn’t surprising that John wrote this post this weekend.

The gist of John’s post, if I read it right, is that Rick Santorum won’t get the time from the national media to talk about economic policy. That’s probably true but, honestly, that’s trivial.

If Mitt’s the nominee, he’ll be bombarded with questions about his flip-flopping and his support of O’Romneycare. If Newt’s the nominee, he’ll be bombarded with questions about his ethics nonscandal and his marriages.

The point is, whether it’s Mitt, Newt or Santorum, The Barrage is coming.

Scott Johnson, John’s partner at Powerline, wrote this post this morning in response to John’s post:

Mitt is an inspirational candidate. The problem is that what he inspires is intense apathy among a substantial number of conservatives and Republicans. They (we) resist him. Santorum is the recycled non-Romney who now benefits from this resistance. He may be the last non-Romney standing. Among the previous beneficiaries of the resistance to Romney are Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Santorum, Gingrich and now Santorum again. The logic of a Romney candidacy has been insufficient so far to wear down the resistance of a large share of conservatives and Republicans.

I understand the resistance, but I am lukewarm on the non-Romneys as well. If I had to choose a candidate among them, I would choose Romney. I think he is the least bad of the lot.

The resistance to Romney among a large part of the base of the Republican Party, however, suggests to me that Romney himself would be less than a stellar candidate against Obama. He’s got problems that the non-Romneys have successfully exploited. Romney’s defense of Romneycare in the debates has been a recurrent thumb in the eye to the not inconsiderable number of Republicans for whom repeal of Obamacare is a priority along with with fiscal and economic issues.

I actually agree with John and Scott on their central themes. I part ways with them, however, in a very important respect.

Mitt inspires intense apathy, making him unelectable. You can’t win if people don’t commit to getting out the vote, writing checks or voting. That’s reality.

Rick Santorum is too easily caught up in life/religious issues. I appreciate his commitment to life issues. I applaud him for living out what he says in public. Simply put, he isn’t equipped to turn off that subject. That makes him unelectable.

People know that Newt comes with a ton of baggage. They know that the media will hit him hard on his personal life. The key difference between Newt, Mitt and Santorum is that he’s fully equipped to disarm the media while presenting his appealing solutions to America.

Of the three serious candidates left, Newt’s the only one who gives TEA Party activists and other conservative something to fight for. When surging gas prices became the hot topic, Newt started campaigning on his Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less theme. He talked about increasing domestic oil production. He started talking abou dropping the price of gas to $2.50 a gallon.

That’s appealing and it’ll cut through the media’s BS like a hot knife through butter.

When this administration announced that it was imposing contraception mandates that “would require most religious institutions to pay for coverage they find morally objectionable”, Newt said correctly that this was the administration’s attempt to ignore the First Amendment protections for religious institutions.

Newt didn’t talk about contraception. Newt didn’t get caught up in the life issue. Newt simply said that the Obama administration didn’t respect the Bill of Rights’ protections of our basic liberties from government.

Again, this statement of principle got strong support across political and religious lines. It cut through the media’s filter. It cut through the media’s established storylines.

During the debates, it’s easy to picture Newt criticizing President Obama for his willingness to ignore our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

The bottom line is this: people will be excited to vote for the man who’s committed to cutting gas prices to $2.50 a gallon by making a robust domestic energy production program a high priority.

The key to doing this is by letting the Agenda Media and the political establishment in both parties prattle on about ‘realistic’ goals. We The People will focus on the things that make America great, that truly restore prosperity for all Americans, not just for President Obama’s cronies. We The People will focus on slashing entitlement spending by creating so many new jobs that HR departments will be flooded with work hiring new workers for high paying jobs.

Newt is the guy with the plan. Newt’s the guy with the vision to make America great again. Newt’s the guy who’ll change the status quo in DC. In the end, Newt’s the only candidate who’ll balance the budget and start paying off our debt.

We don’t need timid candidates. We don’t need candidates that get bogged down in the minutiae. We simply need Newt to help build the America we love.

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This administration has done its best to gut the fossil fuel industry since the day it took office. That’s led to high gas prices, high home heating bills, high grocery bills and a stalling economy. In that context, this video is must viewing:

H/T Gateway Pundit
John Hofmeister is the former CEO of Shell Oil. Now he’s the founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy. This weekend, Hofmeister took this administration to the proverbial woodshed:

But John Hofmeister, former CEO of Shell Oil and founder of Citizens for Affordable Energy, told Fox News that oil production today is only 7 million barrels per day when it used to be 10 million per day.

Hofmeister warned that the global economy is in “the crosshairs” of a precarious situation in which China is growing its demand for oil each year by millions of barrels per day and turmoil in the Middle East is creating “some of the most unpredictable, volatile, geopolitical situations” in the world.

Global oil demand, meanwhile, is expected to increase by another 1.5 percent to 89.25 million barrels a day in 2012, according to the Energy Information Administration.

“The failure of the United States of America, the world’s largest consumer, to adopt government policies to enable domestic production to increase and meet these conditions has been nil, nada, nothing, and that is unfortunate for American consumers,” Hofmeister told Fox News.

“We know where the oil is but the government has to allow the companies to get the oil,” he said, charging the Obama administration with being “anti-drilling,” as demonstrated by the moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP spill in 2010.

The average price of gas this month so far is $3.49 a gallon, up 21 cents since the beginning of the year, and $1.60 more per gallon than when Obama took office in January 2009.

These are the key statistics to take from Hofmeister’s criticism of this administration: Domestic oil production is down 30%. Gas prices have doubled since this administration took control. New pipelines are forbidden. Drilling in the most desolate places in America is prohibited.

It’s almost as if that was this administration’s goal:

Here’s the first thing that President Obama said in the video:

OBAMA: The problem is can you get the American people to say that this is really important and force their representatives to do the right thing?

What is the right thing to do, in President Obama’s mind on energy? He states it rather eloquently in this statement:

OBAMA: Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.

In his own words, President Obama thinks that “doing the right thing” is having “electricity prices necessarily skyrocket.” The effect of higher electrical prices is felt throughout the economy. It’s felt in government budgets. It’s felt in people’s homes. It’s felt every time people stop at the grocery store or gas station.

It’s an unwelcome intruder in every American’s life. Unfortunately, that’s this administration’s goal.

By contrast, Newt Gingrich is to Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less. It’s based on the simple concept that we should dramatically expand oil exploration ASAP, which means scrapping this administration’s policies the minute that Newt’s sworn into office.

There are two reasons why I mention Newt in this context. The first reason is because I’ve been unabashedly pro-Newt because he’s great on policies. The second reason why I’m mentioning Newt is because he’s the only GOP presidential candidate who’s got a serious, detailed plan for lowering energy prices.

To the pretenders, it’s time they learned that they can’t beat something with platitudes and empty words. Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney don’t have detailed plans on increasing domestic energy production.

With America at an energy crossroads, it’s time that Americans reject this administration’s policies. It’s time that they reject the platitudes of the less-than-serious candidates.

It’s time they picked Newt.

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Everyone’s known that the hardline left hasn’t hesitated in criticizing the Koch Brothers. Most of the Hate-filled Left’s criticisms have been childish boogeyman-types of arguments. This article, however, exposes the depths of the Hate-filled Left’s hate:

Charles Koch, his brother and employees have in recent months been getting death threats, hundreds of obscenity-laced hate messages, and harassment from some far left-wing groups, Koch said on Thursday.

“We are under attack from various directions, both with threats of violence against us personally, and with threats of attacks on our businesses,” Charles Koch said Thursday, in a phone interview from his office in Wichita.

Koch, the billionaire head of Koch Industries, rarely gives interviews, especially about the various political causes that he and his brother David support. The privately held company rarely releases information about its activities.

On Thursday, Charles Koch authorized employees to reveal the contents of hundreds of e-mails that the Kochs and employees have received in the last year, some of them containing death threats. “I hope you all DIE,” one e-mail, received last year, said. “You people are ruining our country, and all for $$$.” “Choose your expiration Date, Brothers…” said another. “The Koch brothers will DIE!!!!!” said another.

The Hate-Filled Left’s attacks are beyond disgusting. Evil isn’t too strong a word. Unfortunately, the Hate-filled Left’s threats of violence aren’t new. It’s important that we remember Katherine Windels, an early-childhood development teacher in Wisconsin, allegedly threatened several Wisconsin legislators’ lives:

Madison – A 26-year-old woman was charged Thursday with two felony counts and two misdemeanor counts for allegedly making email threats against Wisconsin lawmakers during the height of the battle over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill.

Katherine R. Windels of Cross Plains was named in a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Criminal Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Windels allegedly sent an email threat to State Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) March 9. Later that evening, she allegedly sent another email to 15 Republican legislators, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).

The subject line of the second email was: “Atten: Death Threat!!!! Bomb!!!” In that email, she purportedly wrote, “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.”

“I hope you have a good time in hell,” she allegedly wrote in the lengthy email in which she purportedly listed scenarios in which the legislators and their families would die, including bombings and by “putting a nice little bullet in your head.”

Apparently Ms. Windels is a card-carrying member of the Hate-filled Left. It isn’t a stretch to think that some of the people who’ve made death threats on the Koch Brothers are political allies of Ms. Windels.

It’s important that people remember SEIU thugs beating up a black conservative. His crime? Selling Don’t Tread on Me flags outside a townhall meeting.

That’s in addition to having SEIU thugs threatening a private home. As a result of the SEIU’s thugs acts of intimidation, the child whose property was invade is still having nightmares about that afternoon.

People would be disgusted and outraged if this was the comprehensive list of death threats, acts of violence and intimidation. Unfortunately, the things I’ve listed here don’t even amount to a paragraph from the abridged version of the Hate-filled Left’s disgusting and sometimes criminal behavior.

The Hate-filled Left’s apologists will undoubtedly attempt to whitewash the threats and intimidation. I won’t let that happen. The Hate-filled Left will work hard to hided their violent tendencies. It’s citizen journalists’ job to not let them get away with their attempted whitewashing.

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In his latest post, lefty blogger Dave Mindeman finds it incredible that the MNGOP is willing to take on the League of Women Voters, aka the LWV:

And now, here in Minnesota, the Republican Party has decided that in the interest of their quest for voter integrity, they need to take on the…..League of Women Voters?

The League does not like the Voter ID amendment. Their mission is to educate and promote voting. And that means getting everybody to vote. They promote voter registration, they promote candidate debates, and the promote ballot education. The League of Women Voters has a history of making the exercise of your right to vote, their goal.

But because they don’t agree with the Voter ID amendment being pushed onto the November ballot by the Republican Party, the GOP is convinced that the League of Women Voters is now a partisan operation.

Imagine that. An organization that was formed in 1920 out of the Women’s Suffrage movement and whose purpose is….

Formed from the movement that secured the right to vote for women, the centerpiece of the League’s efforts remain to expand participation and give a voice to all Americans.

Yet, because they see Photo ID requirement as an obstacle to their purpose, they are now considered a partisan operation by the Republican Party.

Republicans think that an organization that teamed up with one of the most corrupt, most hyperpartisan, organizations, TakeAction Minnesota, is a partisan organization.

Republicans are right in thinking that the LWV is partisan because they teamed up with TakeAction Minnesota in an allegedly grassroots operation called Draw the Line Minnesota. DTL-Minnesota was sold as having a citizens commission at the heart of the organization.

It didn’t take long to find the LWV’s connections with TAM. A quick scan of DTL-Minnesota’s website showed that the LWV, Common Cause MN and Minnesota Council of Nonprofits teamed with TAM in creating DTL-Minnesota.

Why would a supposedly good government, nonpartisan organization like the LWV team up with TakeAction Minnesota? TAM’s member organizations played a prominent role in funding the biggest smear campaign in Minnesota gubernatorial history in 2010.

TAM’s highest profile organizations, AFSCME and the SEIU, recently tried, with Gov. Dayton’s help, shoving unionization down the throats of child care small businesses.

Why would anyone think that an organization that teams up with a corrupt partisan organization be a partisan organization? Perhaps it’s because their publicly-stated goals are so dramatically different.

After the Senate Local Government and Election Committee passed SF1577, TAM issued this eye-popping statement:

All we have is one vote, a vote we have the constitutional right to keep. And now, a band of conservative legislators, doing the bidding of the 1% who put them in office, seeks to restrict voting rights for hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans simply because they can. It’s wrong and we will continue to fight this.”

TAM’s statement on SF1577 shows that they’re clearly aligned with the corrupt Occupy Wall Street criminal organization movement. LWV’s decision to align themselves with a corrupt partisan organization shows that LWV’s pristine reputation is built on a mirage, not on facts.

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When John Pederson, Steve Gottwalt and King Banaian scheduled Friday night’s town hall meeting at St. Cloud’s Public Library, they had no way of knowing that public employee unions were planning on disrupting it. Things didn’t get ugly immediately but it didn’t take long before things got out of control.

The first question of the night was directed at Dr. Banaian, the economist, not Rep. Banaian, the Minnesota House member. Here’s the statement and question: “Study after study has shown that right-to-work lowers wages for all workers. Is this true?” Banaian said that there are many studies on the subject but no conclusive evidence in either direction, in the minds of labor economists.

After that, the meeting went downhill fast. When Rep. Gottwalt attempted to respond to a different question posed by a union member, a different union member interrupted, asking “Are you wearing your legislator’s hat or your Coborn’s hat”? When Rep. Gottwalt replied that he’s no longer employed by Coborn’s, the man who interrupted quickly apologized.

That was the first time union members in the audience interrupted. It certainly wasn’t the last time. In fact, union members in the audience made interrupting the rule, not the exception.

In fact, the most confrontational moment came when Rep. Banaian was answering another right-to-work question. Jerry Albertine interrupted, saying “Don’t sit there with your hairspray and your tie, you’ve never worked labor, and say you know what the unions are about.”

That was a statement Rep. Banaian forcefully responded to, saying that he’s a college professor who’s paid union dues to the IFO for over a quarter century.

There were approximately 100 people in the room, with approximately 60-70 of those people union members. AFSCME had a strong presence at the meeting. AFSCME was clearly visible in their bright colored logo on the back of their windbreakers.

Several times, Rep. Gottwalt mentioned how union members, many of whom are nurses, have told him that they want the choice of whether to be in a union or not. At one point, a person in the audience suggested that Rep. Gottwalt was lying, saying that it was convenient that these union members didn’t have names and that they wouldn’t come forward.

Rep. Gottwalt said that Friday night’s union antics are why they haven’t come forward, saying that they don’t want to deal with the unions’ retribution to those ‘wandering from the faith’.

The meeting lasted a little over an hour. During that time, 2 questions were asked about Photo ID, another question asking for a law requiring a legislative panel review whether legislation was constitutional and one question about the closing of the Aviation Program at St. Cloud State.

Another gentleman asked about the the possibility of a constitutional amendment ballot question for an Initiative and Referendum system and about Sunday licquor sales. All other questions were about a potential right-to-work constitutional amendment.

If not for the presence of St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis, the meeting could’ve taken a nasty turn. That’s attributable to the unions’ disruptive, disrespectful behavior.

The unions quickly turned the event into an us vs. them confrontation. They quickly turned it inot a 1 percent vs. the 99 percent confrontation. They came armed with their predictable chanting points. They came intent on citing each of those chanting points. They didn’t come to discuss. They came to start a full-fledged confrontation.

They succeeded in that last point, though it’s safe to say that they didn’t change anyone’s mind on the issues they cared most about.

BTW, about the townhall meeting I mentioned in the title: it never had a chance. This was a union pep fest, pure and simple.

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All the talk about how Mitt “looks presidential” just evaporated. All the talk about Rick Santorum’s momentum just vanished. All the crazy talk about Ron Paul…well, who knows with him. In a single afternoon, these three wimps told Georgia and Ohio that they’d be ignoring them. They also admitted that they’re too wimpy to debate Newt Gingrich:

CNN has called off a March 1 Republican primary debate in Georgia that would have included Ohio participants asking questions remotely after Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul said they would not participate, according to spokesmen for the Georgia and Ohio Republican parties.

There’s no doubt that these ‘gentlemen’ are wimps not worthy of being the next leader of the free world. There’s no doubt because it’s unimaginable that Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan would ignore the opportunity to debate their opponents.

Why would the former inevitable GOP nominee run from the opportunity to make his case to southerners? It isn’t like he’s made great inroads with Bible Belt Christian conservatives. Why didn’t the former inevitable GOP nominee say no to the opportunity to make a connection with Rust Belt industrialists and blue collar workers? It isn’t like he’s forged a great connection with those voters.

Why would Mr. Momentum shrink from the opportunity to debate and prove that he’s Newt’s equal or Newt’s superior? Instead, he’s running as fast as he can from debating the only true conservative heavyweight in the field.
This is about more than image, too. Newt just raised a fistful of money in California. Thanks to that infusion of cash, he’s got the money he’ll need to belittle Mitt and Sen. Santorum. Mitt’s decision will especially hurt considering what he told Newt prior to the Iowa Caucuses:

On the first stop of his statewide bus tour today, Mitt Romney delivered a blunt message to rival Newt Gingrich when it comes to his Super PAC’s attack ads: You think this is bad? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

“I know that the speaker would like to say that we shouldn’t have any negativity,” Romney told NBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview on MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown. “But, look, if you can’t handle the heat in this little kitchen, the heat that’s going to come from Obama’s Hell’s kitchen is going to be a heck of a lot hotter. We have to show that we, as a Republican Party, and as a candidate that we can stand up to the barrage that’s going to come from the Obama world.”

Now that Mitt’s shown his true color (yellow), isn’t it time for Newt’s supporters to throw that quote back in Mitt’s face? Mitt’s really the man with a porcelain jaw. He’s good at throwing punches. He hasn’t shown the ability to take them, though. Is that who we want going up against President Obama?

Rick Santorum has been riding a wave of momentum after his defeat of Mitt in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri. Fundraising was picking up. The national press was noticing him. Now he’s essentially told the national media that he’s afraid to go mano a mano against Newt. He’s told the voters of Ohio and Georgia that he doesn’t understand their concerns.

The other result of their decision is that Mitt and Sen. Santorum can’t now raise small dollar donations from the blue collar workers that’ll determine this election. They can’t because blue collar, lunch pale types appreciate a fighter. Mitt and Santorum just proved that they aren’t fighters.

Thanks to some too-clever-by-half political consultants, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have now painted themselves as fair weather candidates. They can’t credibly make the case that they’ll take on Washington when they won’t even debate Newt.

The one thing that I wouldn’t expect from Newt, though, is his going negative. He’s too busy laying out his plans for America’s energy independence, for stopping President Obama’s war against people of faith and how he’ll repeal Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley.

Newt will be too busy explaining why conservative economic heavyweights like Art Laffer and Thomas Sowell endorsed his plan. Newt will be reminding people how the WSJ said that his plan was the best job-creating plan. Newt will remind them how the WSJ said that Mitt’s plan was timid.

At a time when America is at a crossroads, we don’t need people who shrink from a challenge. We don’t need candidates that are afraid of debating a true conservative heavyweight with a lengthy history of conservative achievements.

At this time, the best pick is Newt because he’ll fight the smart fight for conservative principles.

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Thursday afternoon, House Speaker Kurt Zellers spoke out in this statement about passing LIFO, the Last In, First Out bill. Here’s what he said:

“Seniority privilege should not trump student achievement. Decisions about who to fire, layoff and even promote in Minnesota classrooms are based solely on seniority and ignore teacher effectiveness.

Minnesota is one of a dozen states that require Last in, First Out based as part of state law. The Minnesota House of Representatives today approved legislation that removes this rigid and outdated state law. Experience matters but the number of years served is not an adequate measure of ability, competence and success in teaching kids.

We need to stand up for students. Our education reform agenda was developed to help students, close the achievement gap and ensure great, quality teachers in the classroom. Ending the Last In, First Out practice is a great step in the right direction.”

Of course, EdMinn’s puppets, aka the DFL, didn’t see things that way:

Democrats say they agree that Minnesota’s system of seniority-based layoffs is outdated and needs to be changed to base those decisions on performance. But there are too many issues that haven’t been addressed, and it’s linked to an evaluation system for teachers that won’t be developed for another two years, they say.

Rep. Jim Davnie, DFL-Minneapolis, said letting go of teachers based on evaluations that could be up to 3 years old and is private data under state law is a recipe for an explosion of lawsuits. If a teacher is laid off, he said, they have no ability to determine why they were let go because of those privacy laws. “I have no ability to find that out. That’s going to bring me into the courtroom. That’s going to bring in the lawyers,” Davnie said.

If Rep. Davnie is so worried about these evaluations and the treatment of data privacy, he should write legislation that fixes those things rather than just whining about them. To be fair, solutions aren’t the DFL’s specialty.

This sounds like the type of spin that EdMinn would use in opposing reforms without sounding like they’re opposed to important reforms. Make no mistake about it. EdMinn is opposed to LIFO legislation, partially because it’s something that Michelle Rhee’s StudentsFirst organization supports:

LIFO isn’t the silver bullet that will singlehandedly fix Minnesota’s schools. It’s another important step in reforming Minnesota’s learning system.

Since regaining the majority in the House and gaining the majority in the Senate for the first time ever, Republicans have enacted important reforms. Their biggest reform in education thus far has been getting Gov. Dayton to sign the Alternative Teacher Licensure legislation.

That was part of Reform 1.0; LIFO is part of Republicans’ Reform 2.0 agenda. The test now is on whether the DFL will reflexively reject reforms or whether they’ll accept Republicans’ straightforward reforms. The jury’s still out on that.

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