Tag Archives: Ranking

On the issues: assessing the 2016 Republican presidential candidates

Latest Republican presidential primary polls
Latest Republican presidential primary polls (click for larger image)

The PDF is here. (50 pages, but you only have to read about the candidates you might consider voting for)

Unfortunately, radically leftist Politico is the only one with a write-up on it, so here goes:

The hard-line conservative arm of the Heritage Foundation has tough criticism for much of the 2016 field, but high praise for the Texas senator.

The political arm of The Heritage Foundation has released a detailed assessment of the 2016 Republican presidential field — and it offers harsh words for many candidates. But not for Sen. Ted Cruz.

Cruz receives almost exclusively praise for his stances in the 50-page 2016 presidential policy scorecard, the first of its kind produced by Heritage Action. The report grades the candidates across six categories: growth, opportunity, civil society, limited government, favoritism and national security.

Many of the lines in the scorecard appear destined for future attack ads.

Jeb Bush, for instance, is accused of having “kowtowed to the state’s environmental lobby” in Florida. Chris Christie “has shown favoritism toward well-connected real estate developers.” Rand Paul’s “views at times veer outside the conservative mainstream.” And Donald Trump backs “massive tariffs that would damage the American economy.”

Cruz, by contrast, manages to emerge with barely a blemish, receiving only softly worded critiques of his adopting “sound policies advanced by others” rather than crafting his own.

[…]“Cruz has been willing to pay a political price for taking on government favoritism,” the report reads.

The group even forgives Cruz for one of the few trespasses he has made against its positions, voting for a bill that served “as a bargaining chip for [Export-Import Bank] allies to secure reauthorization.” The report credits him for later switching his vote and then publicly attacking Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for allegedly lying about his plans.

Bobby Jindal, who is running hard to the right in Iowa, receives among the more glowing reviews. So does Marco Rubio, who angered the right with his pursuit of a comprehensive immigration plan after first being elected with tea party support.

The two current front-runners in the polls, Ben Carson and Trump, were dinged for their lack of a record on conservative causes and a lack of specifics in their visions. “His unconventional foreign policy prescriptions raise more questions of significant consequence than they answer,” Heritage writes of Trump.

Bush was singled out for some of the most biting critiques. “Has shown favoritism toward Florida special interests and supports amnesty” for undocumented immigrants, reads one bullet point.

In its 2016 assessment, Heritage dings Bush for not supporting recent efforts to defund Planned Parenthood this fall because he said he opposed precipitating a government shutdown. The report accuses him of “playing to President [Barack] Obama’s talking points rather than reinforcing conservatives.”

No, everyone knows that my list of candidates favors governors who have a history of putting in place actual policies that actually affected real people in the real world and got real conservative results. So on that score, Cruz and Rubio way down the list because they have achieved very little:

  1. Scott Walker
  2. Bobby Jindal
  3. Rick Perry
  4. Ted Cruz
  5. Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz’s Twitter feed and his overall feel to me is that all he does is talk, talk, talk. He just doesn’t have the record of Bobby Jindal at putting policies into place. For example, as governor, Jindal actually cut spending. He actually put in place pro-life measures that actually saved lives. He actually put in place a school choice program that helped low-income students get out of failing schools. He actually cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. He actually defended religious liberty. Cruz is just a senator, so he hasn’t got that proven record. I believe he would be conservative, but I feel safer trusting someone with experience.

Having said that, the more I read reports like this Heritage Action Scorecard report, I am finding out that Cruz has been willing to at least pay a price politically for doing the right thing at various times. So, although he does not have the accomplishments that the governors have, he has been willing to push conservative values when it was not to his advantage, politically. I have to admit, there is some value to this in one sense – we know that he would do what he says no matter what. But there is a problem with Cruz. We don’t know whether he is able to create clever policies that will draw the votes of independents and even moderate Democrats. That’s what Walker and Jindal were able to do. So, although I respect what the Heritage Action team have written, I am not changing my rankings.

Tonight’s debate

Be sure and tune in to both debates tonight on Fox Business, as I am expecting Jindal and Cruz to outperform their competitors in their respective debates:

Republican debate – Fox Business/Wall Street Journal

Time – Primary: 9 p.m. ET. Secondary: 7 p.m. ET

Location – Milwaukee Theater, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Moderators – Gerard Baker, Neil Cavuto, Maria Bartiromo

Primary: All candidates averaging at least 2.5 percent in four most recent national polls by Nov. 4.

Secondary: Remaining candidates averaging at least 1 percent in one of the four most recent polls.

Primary: Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, Rand Paul.

Secondary: Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum.

Candidates on my list are in bold. The debate will be live-streamed, so you have no excuses for missing it. This one promises to be a good one. The moderators will not be amateurs as with the Democrat-biased CNBC debate.

Census Bureau confirms DC schools spending $29,409 per pupil

Andrew J. Coulson of the Cato Institute explains how he got the Census Bureau to revise their numbers.

Excerpt: (links removed)

Four years ago, I wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post revealing that DC spent nearly $25,000 per pupil during the 2007-08 school year. I calculated this figure from the public budget documents of the District of Columbia, which I subsequently summarized and linked on this blog.

No education reporter followed up on my findings, and much lower per pupil figures continue to be reported to this day. My $25,000 figure was even greeted with skepticism by analysts at free market think tanks. One state education policy analyst wrote to say that my figure was “out of line with credible information,” and that I gave my critics “too much ammunition with this clearly questionable set of statistics.”

Indeed, the Census Bureau figures for DC’s total K-12 expenditures were substantially lower than mine. I made a note to track down the discrepancy, but other projects intervened. When I updated my calculation to use DC budget estimates for the 2008-09 school year, I found that District spending had risen to over $28,000 / pupil. The comparable number for that year reported by the Bureau of the Census was just $18,181 (which you get by dividing the total expenditure figure in Table 1 by the enrollment figure in Table 15).

So you can see why most folks were skeptical. Skeptical, but wrong.

Back in March of this year I asked my then research intern to contact the Census Bureau and ask where they got their total spending data. It turns out, they got them from a DCPS official. We presented evidence to the Bureau that that DCPS official had missed a few line items when completing the Census Bureau’s forms—to the tune of about $400 million. The Census Bureau agreed and is in the process of obtaining corrected data for the 2008-09 year. In the meantime, they made sure to ask DC officials to include all relevant items when filling out their forms for the 2009-10 school year. The result: Census Bureau data now show DC spent a total of $29,409 per pupil (obtained by dividing total expenditures in Table 1 by enrollment in Table 15). This is just a bit higher than my calculation for the preceding year.

Kudos to the Census Bureau for taking the initiative and getting DC to accurately report its public school expenditures. Now that education reporters can simply open a Census Bureau .pdf file and divide one number by another, I wonder if any will report what DC really spends per pupil? I suspect that they still will not, continuing to mislead the general public, but I would be delighted to be proven wrong.

Oh, and, BTW, this spending figure is about triple what the DC voucher program spends per pupil—and the voucher students have a much higher graduation rate and perform as well or better academically.

He’s talking about the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship voucher program which Obama dismantled and defunded in order to appease the teacher unions.

According to U.S. News, D.C. students are underperforming:

South Dakota, Nebraska, and Washington, D.C. performed the worst, with some of the worst student test scores and college readiness indexes in the nation.

Keep in mind that D.C. votes 92.5% to 6.5% for Obama in the 2008 election. This is where leftism in education comes from.

We ought to care about this, because the students in Washington D.C. are some of the poorest students in the nation – and they are often minority students. What sort of opportunity to succeed are we giving these children when we allow leftists like Obama to destroy voucher programs that are their only hope?

Which countries have the worst ratings for religious freedom?

From CNS News.

Excerpt:

Muslim-majority countries score worst across a range of measures in a comprehensive new study tracking government restrictions on religion as well as social hostilities involving religion around the world.

The study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, released Tuesday, found that nearly one-third of the world’s population lives in countries where religion-related government restrictions or social hostilities rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009.

[…]A separate index in the Pew report graded countries according to levels of social hostility involving religion. Eight of the top ten countries in that index were Muslim-majority states – Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt. The other two, India and Israel, have Hindu and Jewish majorities respectively, and large Muslim minorities.

In an index measuring official interference with religious practice, 18 out of 26 countries (69 percent) whose government “prohibits worship or religious practices of one or more religious groups as a general policy,” were OIC members – Brunei, Chad, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The other eight were Burma, China, Eritrea, Laos, Madagascar, Monaco, Tuvalu and Vietnam.

A grading of countries where conversion from one religion to another is restricted was also dominated by Islamic states, accounting for 25 out of 29 countries listed (86 percent). They were Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The four non-Muslim countries were Eritrea, India, Israel and Vietnam.

Taking the conversion issue a step further, among 13 countries where there were incidents of physical violence over conversions from one religion to another, 10 (77 percent) were Muslim – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. The other three were India, Mongolia and Nepal.

I found it interesting that the tolerant religious pluralists in India are actually not very tolerant of conversions at all. You’ll recall that there are many Hindus who push for anti-conversion laws. That doesn’t sound like pluralism to me – it sounds like totalitarianism.

And more:

The Pew report also examined the issue of “defamation” of religion, tracking countries where various penalties are enforced for apostasy, blasphemy or criticism of religions.

“While such laws are sometimes promoted as a way to protect religion, in practice they often serve to punish religious minorities whose beliefs are deemed unorthodox or heretical,” it said.

It found 21 Muslim countries in that category – Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Brunei, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Western Sahara and Yemen.

The study also found 23 non-Muslim countries where penalties are enforced for such criticism of religion – Austria, Brazil, Burma, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Iceland, India, Italy, Malta, Mauritius, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Samoa, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

This whole article is worth reading. Religious liberty is not as common as you might think if you are an American.

V-22 Osprey gets rave reviews from deployed US Marines

Here’s a photo of the V-22 Osprey – it can change from a helicopter to a plane:

V-22 Osprey Joint Service Aircraft
V-22 Osprey Joint Service Aircraft

Here’s a quick run-down on what the V-22 Osprey can do.

Excerpt:

The V-22 is a tiltrotor aircraft, taking off and landing like a helicopter, but, once airborne, its engine nacelles can be rotated to convert the aircraft to a turboprop airplane capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight.

It can carry 24 combat troops, or up to 20,000 pounds of internal or external cargo, at twice the speed of a helicopter. It includes cross-coupled transmissions so either engine can power the rotors if one engine fails.

The rotors can fold and the wing rotate so the aircraft can be stored aboard an aircraft carrier.

[…]The Osprey has two, large, three-bladed rotors that rotate in opposite directions and produce lift. Because the rotors turn in opposite directions, there is no need for a tail rotor to provide stability as in a helicopter. The wing tilts the rotors between airplane and helicopter modes and generates lift in the airplane mode. The Osprey can convert smoothly from helicopter mode to airplane mode in as few as 12 seconds.

The major advantages of the Osprey over a helicopter are:

  • Longer range – The Osprey can fly from 270 to 580 miles (453 to 933 km).
  • Higher speed – The Osprey’s top speed is 315 mph (507 kph), which is twice as fast as a helicopter’s top speed.
  • Increased cargo capacity – The Osprey can carry 20,000 pounds (4,536 kg) of cargo or 24 troops.

The advantage of the Osprey over an airplane is that it can take off, hover and land like a helicopter. This makes is more versatile than an airplane for such missions as moving troops to remote areas, especially those without landing strips, or conducting long-range rescue operations at sea.

The Hill has battlefield reports about the performance of the USMC V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft.

Excerpt:

Military and industry officials rave about the V-22 tiltrotor’s performance in Afghanistan but know they need to show the aircraft is worth its high price tag.

The Marine Corps are flying V-22 Ospreys in theater and “it’s more effective than we expected,” Maj. Gen. Jon Davis, Second Marine Corps Air Wing commander, told reporters here recently. “We have only scratched the surface with this aircraft. … “We’re doing things with the V-22 we did not plan to do.”

The V-22 takes off vertically but can fly like a plane, allowing it to travel faster than traditional helicopters. The military is using the craft to haul teams of Marines, special operators, combat rescue personnel and cargo.

But there are questions in defense circles about whether — after years of technical delays and cost spikes —such glowing reviews will be enough to avoid future cuts as White House, Pentagon and congressional officials look for ways to trim the annual Defense budget.

Despite rave reviews from war fighters, the program is among the most expensive at the Pentagon.

Each Osprey has a flyaway cost of $65 million. The Pentagon already has spent over $30 billion on the V-22 program, according to the Congressional Research Service.

But some people would rather cut the V-22 than cut Obamacare:

Liberal lawmakers often come after the Osprey initiative when looking for places to trim Pentagon spending.

Last month, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to a Pentagon policy bill that would have directed the department to spend no monies on the program in 2012.

Woolsey dubbed the program a “boondoggle” for the “military-industrial complex.” Terminating the program would save more than $12 billion over 10 years, and $2.5 billion in 2012 alone, she claimed.

The House overwhelmingly defeated her amendment, but not before Woolsey said the aircraft has gotten “mediocre marks” from independent auditors and “underperformed across the board.” There are reports the V-22 has struggled in “high-threat environments,” she said.

She also said it has failed to “prove its worth” operationally and has had a number of major crashes. But Davis says it has proven its value, citing the fleet’s strong record in a rugged war theater.

Program officials and advocates are ready to fight back as Washington continues talking about an era of federal spending cuts.

Their embryonic message, as Davis put it: “Why would we terminate something that works?”

Marine Corps and Bell-Boeing officials also say to avoid budget cuts or a reduced buy, they will have to show critics like Woolsey that the fleet is reliable.

Right now, the Osprey’s closely monitored reliability rate in Afghanistan is around 73 percent, according to program officials.

Davis wants to push that figure to 80 percent, saying that would make the V-22 among the military’s most reliable aircraft.

I love the V-22 Osprey. It is a force multiplier, in my opinion. And can you imagine that some people wanted to cancel it just because of some difficulties they had early on in testing?

Related posts

Cato Institute asks how many senators are more liberal than the socialist one?

Article here about the self-described socialist senator Bernie Sanders. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

According to the National Taxpayers Union, 42 senators in 2008 voted to spend more tax dollars than socialist Bernie Sanders. They include his neighbor Pat Leahy; Californians Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, who just can’t understand why their home state is in fiscal trouble; and the Eastern Seaboard anti-taxpayer Murderers’ Row of Kerry, Dodd, Lieberman, Clinton, Schumer, Lautenberg, Menendez, Carper, Biden, Cardin, and Mikulski. Don’t carry cash on Amtrak! Not to mention Blanche Lambert Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, who apparently think Arkansans don’t pay taxes so federal spending is free. Sen. Barack Obama didn’t vote often enough to get a rating in 2008, but in 2007 he managed to be one of the 11 senators who voted for more spending than the socialist senator.

Meanwhile, the American Conservative Union rated 11 senators more liberal than Sanders in 2008, including Biden, Boxer, Feinstein, and again the georgraphically confused Mark Pryor. The Republican Liberty Caucus declared 14 senators, including Sanders, to have voted 100 percent anti-economic freedom in 2008, though Sanders voted better than 31 colleagues in support of personal liberties.  The liberal Americans for Democratic Action provides more support for the Post’s claim, rating Sanders 100 percent liberal. Most raters, though, don’t see it that way. In this compilation of ratings from left-leaning interest groups, 17 senators get higher scores than Sanders.

Socialism is actually the mainstream position of Senate Democrats. The rest of them just don’t label themselves as such.