Tag Archives: Achievement

Which candidate is best at working with Democrats to get things done?

The Jesus Seminar and their pre-suppositions
Republican voters need to go beyond the surface level in assessing candidates

I have a few friends who I know are supporting either Donald Trump or Marco Rubio in the election. I have asked them specifically what policies, accomplishments and past battles they like best about their candidate.

Donald Trump supporters say this:

  • he’s leading in the polls (vs Republicans)
  • he tells it like it is
  • he’s going to build a fence  and make Mexico pay for it
  • he’s a businessman

Marco Rubio supporters say this:

  • he’s leading in the polls (vs Democrats)
  • he’s handsome
  • I like the way he talks
  • his wife was a Miami Dolphins cheerleader, so she is prettier and funner than nerdy workaholic Harvard MBA Heidi Cruz

My candidate is Ted Cruz, and the Trump supporters tend to have no problem with him. But the Rubio supporters don’t like Cruz. So I made a list of their objections to Cruz.

The Rubio supporters say this:

  • (quoting Donald Trump) not one of his colleagues in the Senate has endorsed him
  • he won’t be able to convince other people to get things done
  • I don’t like the way he talks
  • he has a pickle nose
  • he said he wanted to make Marco Rubio’s amnesty bill “better” but  his amendment actually killed the amnesty bill – that means he’s a liar because his amendment didn’t make the bill better

Regarding the point about Ted Cruz not being able to get along with his colleagues in the Senate, that’s actually false. First, Cruz and Rubio came into the Senate at the same time, and Cruz has passed more legislation than Rubio. That might be because Rubio has the worst attendance record in the Senate.

When Rubio works together with people, he authors an amnesty bill, he supports the failed Libya invasion, he gives in-state tuition to illegal immigrants, he weakens border security, he authors a bill to remove the due process rights of men falsely accused of rape on campus, he skips votes to defund Planned Parenthood, he is liberal on the issue of gay marriage, his deputy campaign manager is a gay activist, and so on. In short, he works with liberals on liberal priorities – that’s why he is likable to them.

Ted Cruz gets into trouble with his colleagues, because he tries to stop the spending, stop amnesty, stop the military interventions in Syria, Libya and Egypt, etc. That’s why he is not likable to them.

What about the point that Cruz would not be persuasive to Democrats, and so would not be able to get anything done? Well, we already saw that Cruz has passed more legislation than Rubio, despite having a pickle nose. But he’s also shown the ability to pull Democrats towards his point of view.

Here’s an article from PJ Media to explain:

Now that Cruz regularly polls toward the top of an ever-shrinking field, his early tenure bears closer scrutiny. Cruz has gained fame as a social conservative and an unwavering opponent of Obamacare. In his first major leadership role, however, he developed economic policy as the director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning.

At the FTC, Cruz’s agenda could have been written by Milton Friedman.

Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers. Based on his early support of disruptive online companies, Cruz has some grounds to call himself the “Uber of American politics.”

Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC.

[…]Beyond the e-commerce initiative, Cruz also reoriented the FTC’s use of antitrust laws.

[…]Cruz also sent dozens of letters to states to fight new efforts to enshrine crony capitalism.

[…]Perhaps surprisingly, Cruz secured a high degree of consensus in pursuing his agenda.

As an independent agency, the FTC has five commissioners, and during Cruz’s tenure, two of them had served in President Clinton’s administration. All five commissioners voted to support almost all of Cruz’s proposals.

Cruz achieved this consensus by listening to policy experts and political opponents. He listened to the FTC’s economic experts and marshaled empirical economic analysis to support his policy objectives. He solicited input from prominent Democrats, including the late Senator Howard Metzenbaum, who spoke at the e-commerce conference. In addition, Cruz worked to develop personal relationships across the aisle. He regularly met with Democratic commissioners and incorporated their ideas into his policy proposals.

The article explains Cruz’s conservative agenda in detail; increasing competition, protecting consumers, and so on. But he wasn’t likable in the way that Marco Rubio was likable – by pushing a Democrat agenda. He was likable by convincing Democrats to push a conservative agenda. He did it by gathering evidence and making his case. And that’s what you expect from a lawyer who wins cases for conservatives at the Supreme  Court.

Caffeinated Thoughts endorses Bobby Jindal because of his accomplishments

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Caffeinated Thoughts is run by Shane Vander Hart, a Christian blogger who is also interested in politics. Shane’s post goes over many of Jindal’s accomplishments.

In this post, I discuss 5 areas:

  1. Defense of natural marriage
  2. Cutting the size and scope of government
  3. Defending the lives of unborn children
  4. Defending the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns and defend themselves from criminals
  5. Simplified, fair tax plan that favors job creation

The endorsement says:

Caffeinated Thoughts is proud to endorse Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal for President of the United States.

Governor Jindal has an impressive resume by any standard, but considering he is 44-years-old it is truly remarkable. Graduating from Brown University as a double major with honors at the age of 20, Jindal went on to study as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University where he would later earn his master’s degree. Jindal, at the age of 24, was appointed head of Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals. He was later appointed by President George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services. He served two terms representing Louisiana’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives after which he was elected Governor of Louisiana and is currently serving his second term.

Let’s start with the most important accomplishment:

Jindal speaks of a seven-year long spiritual journey that began while he was in high school, and, at Brown University, culminated in a personal faith and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He freely speaks of the realization that he had that Christ died for sin not in some generic way, but for him and his sin personally. He points to the time of that realization as the “most important moment in my life.” Having such a clear profession of faith in Christ is something that we are pleased to see in a presidential candidate.

Jindal also makes it plain that his faith is not something that he keeps put away except for Sundays. His worldview is built upon his faith, and his governance is guided by his worldview. An example of that is his support of the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act, in which protections would be given to individuals or businesses who oppose same-sex marriage. A number of corporations opposing the bill expressed their disapproval to him, but his reply was firm: “They are free to voice their opinions, but they will not deter me.”

Shocking. His religious convictions actually inform his policies.

Jindal is the only governor in the race to cut spending – and none of the non-governors were able to cut spending, since Obama would have vetoed any cuts in borrowing or spending.

According to the Cato Institute, of the governors that were or still are GOP candidates for the presidential nomination, Jindal is the only one that has actually cut spending in his state. Cato Budget Analyst Nicole Kaeding wrote this: “Louisiana general fund spending has fallen during Bobby Jindal’s tenure as governor. At a time when states were increasing spending, Jindal instituted reforms that cut the state workforce and lowered per capita spending. This feat makes Jindal unique among Republican contenders for the presidency.” We are confident that when Jindal says he intends to reduce federal spending, he will succeed in getting it done. He has a unique credibility in that regard.

Cutting spending is good, but so is being solid on defending the lives of the unborn:

Louisiana, under his leadership, was named by Americans United for Life as the most pro-life state in the nation six years in a row. He has signed numerous pro-life bills as Governor that led to his state’s status. In light of recent videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s involvement in harvesting fetal body parts for profit, Jindal ordered an investigation of Planned Parenthood. He also rescinded Medicaid contracts his state had with the abortion provider that fully defunded Planned Parenthood of all taxpayer funds that provided a model for governors in other states to follow. He has stood and fought in federal court over his decision, and we applaud the fortitude he has shown that is unfortunately rare among many governors and in Washington, DC.

He’s willing to fight for the pro-life cause. Unlike many of the talk-only candiates in the GOP primary. And as far as self-defense goes, he’s solid on that – which is a good thing, since the Democrats seem to be very committed to releasing criminals, and not cracking down on sanctuary cities and illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes, then take refuge in them:

With Jindal at the helm, Louisiana has consistently been graded an A+ by the National Rifle Association. As Governor he signed legislation that strengthened Louisiana’s stand your ground and castle doctrine laws. In 2012 Louisiana also passed its own constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms. As a member of Congress, Jindal received the NRA’s Harlon B. Carter award for working to address gun confiscations that took place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in order to prevent them from happening again.

And he is solid on tax rate reduction and simplification, as well as spurring job creation by cutting taxes on job creators:

For instance, his tax plan also has a unique feature: Everyone will pay some taxes. To use his words, everyone “will have skin in the game.” Jindal’s website says this: “The idea that half of American wage earners would pay no taxes at all only reinforces the fact that we are creating two classes in America, the tax paying class and the dependent class. Instead of fewer people paying more taxes, more people should pay fewer taxes.” We heartily agree with this approach.

Jindal’s three-tiered personal income tax plan is both simple and fair. At the same time, his plan eliminates corporate income tax, making corporations globally competitive, encouraging investment in business expansion, and brings jobs and wealth back home from abroad.

The article also notes that Jindal is the only candidate running who has a detailed plan to replace Obamacare, and since Jindal’s background is in health care policy, we can assume that he will achieve the goals he achieved when he reformed health care policies in Louisiana. The article did not mention Jindal’s work in improving school choice and improving education in Louisiana, but it can’t cover everything on his resume. Still, if you like accomplishments, Jindal is your candidate. He is everything that Obama was not in 2008.

I feel sorry for candidates like Scott Walker, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal. These are the 3 candidates who actually have a record of achieving the things they talk about in campaign speeches. What I mean by that is that all 3 took action, and the action had an effect, and we can see the positive results. There is one other great conservative candidate: Ted Cruz. He would lead in a conservative direction if elected, I have no doubt. But Trump and Carson have neither the record of conservative accomplishments of Jindal, nor the proven record of conservative advocacy of Ted Cruz. And why are American voters so willing to vote for two people who don’t have the achievements and results to point to?

Why are Asian mothers so much better at raising high-performing children?

Consider this article in the Wall Street Journal.

But first – a little bit about Amy Chua, the author of the article:

Amy Chua is the John M. Duff Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Her first book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability was a New York Times bestseller, was selected by both the Economist and the Guardian as one of the Best Books of 2003 and translated into eight languages. Her second book, Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance – and Why They Fall was a critically acclaimed Foreign Affairs bestseller. Amy Chua has appeared frequently on radio and television on programs such CNN Headline News, C-Span, The Lehrer News Hour, Bloomberg Television, and Air America. Her writings have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, and the Wilson Quarterly. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and two Samoyeds in New Haven, Connecticut.

And now, an excerpt from the piece itself:

A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it.

[…]Despite our squeamishness about cultural stereotypes, there are tons of studies out there showing marked and quantifiable differences between Chinese and Westerners when it comes to parenting. In one study of 50 Western American mothers and 48 Chinese immigrant mothers, almost 70% of the Western mothers said either that “stressing academic success is not good for children” or that “parents need to foster the idea that learning is fun.” By contrast, roughly 0% of the Chinese mothers felt the same way. Instead, the vast majority of the Chinese mothers said that they believe their children can be “the best” students, that “academic achievement reflects successful parenting,” and that if children did not excel at school then there was “a problem” and parents “were not doing their job.” Other studies indicate that compared to Western parents, Chinese parents spend approximately 10 times as long every day drilling academic activities with their children. By contrast, Western kids are more likely to participate in sports teams.

What Chinese parents understand is that nothing is fun until you’re good at it. To get good at anything you have to work, and children on their own never want to work, which is why it is crucial to override their preferences. This often requires fortitude on the part of the parents because the child will resist; things are always hardest at the beginning, which is where Western parents tend to give up. But if done properly, the Chinese strategy produces a virtuous circle. Tenacious practice, practice, practice is crucial for excellence; rote repetition is underrated in America. Once a child starts to excel at something—whether it’s math, piano, pitching or ballet—he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun. This in turn makes it easier for the parent to get the child to work even more.

And here are her three main points:

Chinese parents demand perfect grades because they believe that their child can get them. If their child doesn’t get them, the Chinese parent assumes it’s because the child didn’t work hard enough. That’s why the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child. The Chinese parent believes that their child will be strong enough to take the shaming and to improve from it. (And when Chinese kids do excel, there is plenty of ego-inflating parental praise lavished in the privacy of the home.)

[…]Chinese parents believe that their kids owe them everything. The reason for this is a little unclear, but it’s probably a combination of Confucian filial piety and the fact that the parents have sacrificed and done so much for their children. (And it’s true that Chinese mothers get in the trenches, putting in long grueling hours personally tutoring, training, interrogating and spying on their kids.) Anyway, the understanding is that Chinese children must spend their lives repaying their parents by obeying them and making them proud.

[…]Chinese parents believe that they know what is best for their children and therefore override all of their children’s own desires and preferences. That’s why Chinese daughters can’t have boyfriends in high school and why Chinese kids can’t go to sleepaway camp. It’s also why no Chinese kid would ever dare say to their mother, “I got a part in the school play! I’m Villager Number Six. I’ll have to stay after school for rehearsal every day from 3:00 to 7:00, and I’ll also need a ride on weekends.” God help any Chinese kid who tried that one.

[…]Here’s a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style.

Now you go read the whole article to find out the three differences and read the coercion story. Read the coercion story now!

And what do we learn from it? Well, what I learned is that if we Christians want to have any hope of having an influence in the public square, then we will have to marry well, and we will have to train our children like Amy does. We should not be thinking of marriage as a way to have feelings and to gain happiness and fulfillment. Marriage should be about service to God. And one of the ways we serve is by producing children who will have an influence. I think that parents in the West tend to have the idea that the world is a safe place, and that we should try to please our children and make them like us – so that everyone will be happy. But there is one person who will not be happy if we focus on ourselves instead of serving God. Do you know who that might be?

One thing I would say in criticism of Amy is that she seems to only care about grades – which are assigned by teachers who are not necessarily going to have the same goals as a Christian parent. Teachers have their own agenda, and will happily give a child an F for espousing a belief in abstinence, or for talking about the Big Bang or protein sequence specificity, or for mentioning Climategate and dissent from man-made catastrophic global warming. If the class is math or computer science, then the children should be required to be the best. If the class is on hating America, then maybe the child should be going to a different school or being homeschooled. (Assuming that the Democrats have not banned all private schooling and homeschooling, which their masters in the teacher unions would dearly love to do).

My advice for men is this: Have a plan for marriage and parenting. Make decisions your whole life to implement that plan. Choose a wife based on the criteria of the job of marriage. And raise your children to have an influence for Christ.

If you cannot find a wife who actually puts serving God over her own feelings and desires, remain chaste and do not marry. There is no point in getting married unless marriage and parenting can serve God. The point of marriage is not to have a big wedding. The point of marriage is not to make women happy and fulfilled. The point of marriage is not for the woman to neglect her children while focusing on her career. The point of marriage is not to blindly hand children off to the schools to be indoctrinated as they obtain non-STEM degrees.

Is public school a viable option for Christian parents?

A couple of quick anecdotes from Yahoo News first, then we’ll see the numbers.

Excerpt:

Take the case of Petrona Smith. She says in a lawsuit that she was fired from teaching at Bronx PS 211 in March 2012 after a seventh-grader reported that she’d used the “N” word, according to The New York Post.

‘Negro.’

Smith doesn’t deny using the word. But she argues that everyone uses it, when speaking Spanish. She was teaching the Spanish words for different colors, and the color “black” in Spanish is “negro.” She also taught the junior high school students, in this bilingual school, that the Spanish term for black people is “moreno.” And by the way, Smith, who is from the West Indies, is black.

And more:

The Akron Public Schools Board of Education voted in January to pursue the firing of Melissa Cairns. She was a math teacher at Buchtel Community Learning Center.

The school district said that Ms. Cairns posted a photo on her personal Facebook page which showed 8 or 9 out of her 16 students with duct tape across their mouths. The caption read: “Finally found a way to get them to be quiet!!!” The district says a colleague of Cairns’ notified a supervisor of the photo.

[…]This past week, Cairns was officially fired because “She showed a lack of good judgment. Her conduct was unbecoming of a teacher,” Akron Public Schools spokesman Mark Williamson told Newsnet5.

He went on to explain it wasn’t the use of the duct tape, but the posting of the photo of children on Facebook that showed poor judgement.

As you know, you can’t fire public school teachers for incompetence or sexual abuse of children.

Excerpt:

He worked just one year as a full-time teacher in New York. But he has collected nearly $1 million for 13 years for doing almost nothing.

Aryeh Eller, 46, a former music teacher at Hillcrest HS in Queens, is the longest-sitting “rubber room” teacher in the city. He was yanked from the classroom in 1999 and confessed to repeated sexual harassment of female students, according to a 2000 investigative report.

[…]Since his 1999 suspension, he has collected $943,000, plus health and pension benefits — and the total will hit $1 million this year.

Now let’s see if this focus on political correctness instead of results is working for taxpayers and students.

The Wall Street Journal:

Over the last four decades, public education spending has increased rapidly in the United States. According to the Department of Education, public schools spent, on average, $12,922 per pupil in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available. Adjusting for inflation, that’s more than double the $6,402 per student that public schools spent in 1975.

Despite that doubling of funds, just about every measure of educational outcomes has remained stagnant since 1975, though some have finally begun to inch upward over the last few years. Student scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)—the only consistently observed measure of student math and reading achievement over the period—have remained relatively flat since the mid-1970s. High school graduation rates haven’t budged much over the last 40 years, either.

You can find more data to flesh out those claims linked at the Heritage Foundation think tank.

To remove any doubt, just take a look at the libertarian Cato Institute’s graph on public school spending vs scholastic achievement. We are are wasting money indoctrinating kids in political correctness. The extra money that we are spending on education isn’t going into making students smarter or more productive.

How the secular left made a generation of public school students unteachable

I’m totally swamped with a release deadline tonight, but I noticed that Stuart Schneiderman linked to this article earlier today and I thought you might like it. I chose an excerpt that talks about the well-known problem of students attacking TAs and professors after they get poor grades in order to make them change the grade – without doing any make-up work.

Excerpt:

This pedagogy of self-esteem developed in response to the excesses of rote learning and harsh discipline that were thought to characterize earlier eras. In Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, Mr. Gradgrind, the teacher who ridicules a terrified Sissy Jupe for her inability to define a horse (“Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth … ”), was seen to epitomize a soulless pedagogical regime that deadened creativity and satisfaction. Dickens and his readers believed such teaching to be a form of mental and emotional abuse, and the need to protect students from the stigma of failure became an article of faith amongst progressive educators. For them, the stultifying apparatus of the past had to be entirely replaced. Memorization itself, the foundation of traditional teaching, came to be seen as an enemy of creative thought: pejorative similes for memory work such as “rote learning” and “fact-grinding” suggest the classroom equivalent of a military drill, harsh and unaccommodating. The progressive approach, in contrast, emphasizes variety, pleasure, and student interest and self-motivation above all.

It sounds good. The problem, as traditionalists have argued (but without much success), is that the utopian approach hasn’t worked as intended. Rather than forming cheerful, self-directed learners, the pedagogy of self-esteem has often created disaffected, passive pupils, bored precisely because they were never forced to learn. As Hilda Neatby commented in 1953, the students she was encountering at university were “distinctly blasé” about their coursework. A professor of history, Neatby was driven to investigate progressive education after noting how ill-equipped her students were for the high-level thinking required of them; her So Little For the Mind remains well-worth reading. In her assessment:

The bored “graduates” of elementary and high schools seem, in progressive language, to be “incompletely socialized.” Ignorant even of things that they might be expected to know, they do not care to learn. They lack an object in life, they are unaware of the joy of achievement. They have been allowed to assume that happiness is a goal, rather than a by-product.

The emphasis on feeling good, as Neatby argued, prevents rather than encourages the real satisfactions of learning.

Of course, the progressive approach has advantages, not the least of which is that it enables university administrators to boast of the ever-greater numbers of students taking degrees at their institutions. Previously disadvantaged groups have gained access to higher education as never before, and more and more students are being provided with the much-touted credentials believed to guarantee success in the workforce. Thus our universities participate in a happy make-believe. Students get their degrees. Parents are reassured that their money has been well-spent. And compliant professors are, if not exactly satisfied — it corrodes the soul to give unearned grades — at least relieved not to encounter student complaints.

I can remember when I was doing my Masters in computer science a few years back when I was taking a course in Network Security. Somehow, I botched the midterm so badly that I ended up with a 14 out of 20. I was disgusted with myself, and pleaded with the professor to give me something – anything – to help me get my grade back up. He gave me a programming assignment that was harder than the midterm, and it took about 20 hours to do. I gave up my weekend and got it done. He raised my grade. Professors are usually willing to give you a break if you want to demonstrate that you have the knowledge. But when you just go in there and complain to get the grade changed without learning anything, it’s just not right.

When you get out into the real world, either you have the skills, or you don’t. Your transcript doesn’t really matter. It’s rare for interviewers to even look at transcripts anymore. Instead, they want to see what you’ve actually done. I once had to do a 20 hour implementation of a multi-user clustered cache for one interview with a CRM company. I had to pass several interviews before they gave me that independent study, and they looked at my code line by line. It was a lot of code, too. Grades don’t matter in the real world. What matters is what you can do. If you can’t do the job that companies expect, they will find someone else – maybe in another country – who can do it. That’s why students should not put so much emphasis on grades. You’re only cheating yourself if you really can’t do the work.