Minnesota Criminalizes Learning


In the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” file:

Honorable mentions go to New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission for driving out Uber’s online taxi-hailing service and to automobile dealers’ groups in four states for trying to have Tesla dealerships declared illegal. But the grand prize in this week’s unexpectedly heated competition for most creative use of government to stifle innovation has to go to Minnesota.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the state has decided to crack down on free education, notifying California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents. Coursera, founded by Stanford computer science professors Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, partners with top-tier universities around the world to offer certain classes online for free to anyone who wants to take them. You know, unless they happen to be from Minnesota.

This Week in the Race for the GOP Presidential Nomination

This week will be the busiest that we’ll see in the race for the Republican presidential nomination this month. Coloradans and Minnesotans will be headed to the caucuses today while Missourians will be voting in the nonbinding primary that precedes their March 17 caucuses. We can also expect to see the results of the Maine caucuses this Saturday. After this week, we’ll see only a handful of caucuses and primaries in Guam, Arizona, Michigan, and Washington before Super Tuesday on March 6.

Public Policy Polling shows former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) with a comfortable lead in Colorado with 37%. Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) trails Romney with 27% while former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.) clock in with 21% and 13% respectively. It looks like we can expect another big win for Romney in the Centennial State.

The race could get a little more interesting in Minnesota, Missouri, and Maine. Santorum leads the field in a tight race for the North Star State, but that race is still very much up in the air with a range of only 13% between Santorum and Paul, who is polling in fourth place. Santorum looks to be headed for a win in the Show-Me State’s nonbinding primary; he leads with 45% to Romney’s 32%. Meanwhile, Politico is calling the race for the Pine Tree State a two man race between Romney and Paul.

If these numbers hold, what could all of this mean for the race going forward?

Can the GOP Come Back?

Think about it! Four years ago, the Republican Party held the White House and both houses of Congress. Now, the Democrats have won the Presidency by a sizable margin, gained additional seats in the majority Democratic House, and could possibly hold a sixty-vote majority in the Senate—large enough to end any Republican initiated filibuster.

First of all, consider the magnitude of the Republican loss. What support shifted from four years ago?

State legislatures aren’t waiting on Washington to reject Obama’s big government agenda

Amidst reports concerning the House’s changes to the USA FREEDOM Act and how the recently passed new version fails to address issues with the 702 section of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – allowing the government to continue its “back door” searches of electronic and phone communications of Americans in contact with foreigners – the Tenth Amendment Center reported that at least two of the five nullification bills that passed last week keep the federal government from tracking cellphone data without a warrant.

Bill SF2466, which passed with tremendous bipartisan support through both Minnesota state House and Senate, bans law enforcement agencies in Minnesota from obtaining tracking information on cellphone users in the state without a warrant.

Senate Joint Resolution 27 in Missouri also protects the consumer’s data by adding electronic communications as one of the objects protected by the state constitution. The resolution should be up for a vote by Missouri residents this November after passing the House.

FBI Whistleblower Sees “Great Start” to Ending Domestic Surveillance

Nick Hankoff is a grassroots coordinator at the Tenth Amendment Center and currently serves as chair at the Los Angeles County Republican Liberty Caucus. A former development associate for Antiwar.com, Nick has been covering the nullification movement that has been sweeping the country after Edward Snowden’s revelations regarding the NSA spying programs surfaced. In this guest post, Nick Hankoff outlines what many have assumed to be the best and most effective way to fight the federal government on issues such as the government mass surveillance tactics: nullification.

As the one-year anniversary of Edward Snowden’s liberation of NSA documents fast approaches, no one may refute the success of his stated goal of spurring public debate. “I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself,” Snowden said.

The headlines went out, Sunday morning interviews aired and re-played, yet the story isn’t going away as Glenn Greenwald still claims the overwhelming majority of leaks are yet to be published. The debate is ongoing, but to what end does it serve the public if real reform doesn’t result?

Michele Bachmann Announces Retirement from Congress

Michelle Bachmann

Just days after the FBI got involved in the investigation concerning her 2012 presidential campaign, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) announced this morning that she wouldn’t seek re-election in a nearly 9-minute long video posted on her campaign website.

Bachmann said that her decision had nothing to do with the investigation into her presidential campaign or the tough re-election battle that she was facing in Minnesota’s Sixth Congressional District next year. A recent poll showed Bachmann trailing Jim Graves, who she defeated last year, by 2 points, 47/45, though it was within the margin of error.

Graves also raised over $100,000 after he announced his 2014 bid. While impressive Bachmann is known as a prolific fundraiser. She raised $14.4 million in 2012 and had already raised $675,000 for 2014, according to the Huffington Post. Campaign disclosure reports showed that she had $1.8 million in cash on hand at the end of the first quarter of this year.

Michele Bachmann facing though re-election bid

Before Rep. Michele Bachmann entered the race for the Republican nomination last year, the consensus was that was she would face a tough bid for re-election. Some evens speculated that her presidential bid was last hurrah. But Bachmann, who we haven’t covered since her exit from the GOP race, is indeed running for re-election, and the latest polling out of her district shows her with a small lead:

A new Democratic poll suggests Rep. Michele Bachmann could face a serious fight for reelection this fall, a finding sure to re-start the debate over whether the controversial Minnesota Republican can truly be beaten or whether she is simply the Democrats’ white whale.

In polling conducted by Anna Greenberg of Greenberg Quinlan Rosen Research Bachmann leads Minneapolis hotel magnate Jim Graves (D) 48 percent to 43 percent. A third (34 percent) of voters in the district rate her performance as “poor,” although 39 percent call it “excellent” or good.”

This poll will likely only embolden Democrats who would love, for largely symbolic reasons, to see Bachmann lose. Her outspoken conservatism, which was on full display during her 2012 presidential bid, has made her a enemy number one — or close to it — for many Democratic strategists and activists around the country.

An Open Letter to GOP Primary Voters From a Libertarian

Dear Republican primary voters and caucusgoers:

Yesterday, some of you in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri delivered stunning victories for former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) in the race for the GOP presidential nomination. You may have thought in caucusing and voting for Santorum that you were dealing a blow to the big government establishment. Unfortunately, you weren’t. Santorum is and has always been a card-carrying member of the Beltway GOP. Santorum’s record in the U.S. Senate reveals consistent opposition to the principles of limited government, fiscal restraint, and individual liberty. That’s why libertarians can’t support him now or in the general election and why you shouldn’t either.

Rick Santorum has consistently voted in favor of big government, budget-busting programs. He has slammed former Governor Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) for signing RomneyCare into law, but RomneyCare and ObamaCare are hardly the first examples of big government intervention in the health care market. Another recent example was the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 establishing the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. While libertarians and limited government conservatives were busy arguing for the reduction of government health care entitlements, former President George W. Bush was busy expanding them — and Rick Santorum was happy to vote in favor of Medicare Part D along with other big government establishment Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Which Republican has the best jobs record?

The economy and jobs are going to be a big part of the Republican presidential campaigns this summer and into next year. All of the candidates are beating up on President Barack Obama and the, frankly, paltry job numbers we’ve seen during this wreckovery. But which governor in the Republican field can boast the best-job numbers? The National Review says Gary Johnson:

According to a National Review Online analysis of seasonally adjusted employment data (looking at the total number of those employed) from the Bureau of Labor website, Gary Johnson has the best record of the official candidates, with a job-growth rate of 11.6 percent during his tenure.

But Johnson, who governed from 1995 to 2003, doesn’t overlap much with the other governors — Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, and Jon Huntsman — who are running. Among the crowd who governed primarily during the 2000s, Huntsman has the best record. During his 2005 to 2009 tenure as governor of Utah, the number of jobs grew by 5.9 percent.

Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have much weaker records. Romney, who governed Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, had an overall job-growth rate of 1.6 percent. During Pawlenty’s time as governor of Minnesota (2003 to 2011), the number of jobs grew by an anemic 0.5 percent.

Of course, some of these comparisons are apples to oranges; Pawlenty, Huntsman, and Perry, for instance, all were governors during the recession, while Romney and Johnson were not. State population changes could also play a role in determining whether a state’s employment numbers surge or decline.

Thomas Sowell on Tim Pawlenty

While Tim Pawlenty is being raked over the coals by commentators for declining to go after Mitt Romney on his disastrous health insurance reform bill that eventually became a blueprint for Obama, Thomas Sowell seems to like what he sees in the former Governor of Minnesota:

Tim Pawlenty cites his track record to back up his statements. That includes reducing Ethanol subsidies when he was governor of Minnesota and cutting the growth of state government spending from just over 20 percent a year to under 2 percent a year.

Governor Pawlenty fought Minnesota’s transit unions over runaway pensions and hung tough during a long strike. “Today,” he says, “we have a transit system that gives commuters a ride, without taking the taxpayers for a ride.”

Some fear that Governor Pawlenty doesn’t have the charisma and fireworks rhetoric that they would like to see in a candidate. Charisma and rhetoric are what gave us the current disastrous administration in Washington. Charisma and rhetoric gave people in other countries even bigger disasters, up to and including Hitler.

Politicians and the media may want a candidate with verbal fireworks but the people want jobs. As Tim Pawlenty put it: “Fluffy promises of hope and change don’t buy our groceries, make our mortgage payments, put gas in our cars, or pay for our children’s clothes.”

The only flaw in Sowell’s argument is that voters, including the conservative base of the Republican Party, tend to flock to candidates that build up a cult of personality.

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