Mike Kueber's Blog

October 7, 2015

Jeb Bush gets a bum rap on “stuff”

Filed under: Politics — Mike Kueber @ 6:06 pm
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I’m not a big Jeb Bush supporter in his run for the presidency. Like his father, he seems a bit too eager to compromise, and when you combine this trait with his family connection to Mexico, you have a near certainty of a president who will grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants (about half Mexican) and ensure the further Latinization and balkanization of America. On a personal level, I don’t like the guy because of his adolescent reputation as an unpopular big bully that seems to have stuck with him.

But in the past two weeks, I believe Jeb has been unfairly criticized for two comments he made regarding “stuff”:

  • Regarding the call for action in response to the Oregon killings – “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s very sad to see. But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

This is precisely the notion that I have argued many times. Conservatives try to minimize the role of government in society, so it just doesn’t make sense to us that government should be expanded every time something bad happens. That would be a prescription for disaster. But Bush critics trivialized the substantive philosophy and instead quoted only “stuff happens,” as if Bush was pooh-poohing the entire tragedy.

  • Regarding how the GOP will make inroads into electoral support from African-Americans – “Our message is one of hope and aspiration. It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

This, too, is a sound conservative position in opposition to the buying votes of special interests by giving them the spoils of government. But Bush critics, like Charles Blow of the NY Times, accuse him of stereotyping blacks as “leeches” and “welfare queens.”

Incidentally, the nonpartisan website fivethirtyeight.com recently published an article that provides the facts regarding the distribution of free stuff (means-tested Medicaid, food stamps, housing assistance, SSI, TANF, and welfare) among the races:

  • As of 2012, 21 percent of the U.S. population, or 52.2 million people, participated in one or more of those six programs on average each month.
  • In any given month during 2012, 42 percent of black Americans received a means-tested benefit, compared with 36 percent of Hispanics, 18 percent of Asians/Pacific Islanders and 13 percent of non-Hispanic whites.
  • Currently the U.S. population is 77 percent white (62 percent of them non-Latino white Americans), 13 percent black, 17 percent Latino and 5 percent Asian. (Latinos are an ethnicity and may be of any race.)

July 27, 2015

Jeb Bush and single mothers

Filed under: Culture,Facebook — Mike Kueber @ 3:31 am
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A couple of years ago, a Facebook friend posted a poster bragging that single mothers had raised the two best presidents of modern times, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.  She got mad at me when I countered that their mothers may have been divorced multiple times, but neither was single long.  Furthermore, in the case of President Obama, he was co-raised by his grandparents.

Last week, a similar poster appeared on Facebook along with a criticism of Jeb Bush for something he wrote two decades ago in a book, Profiles in Character. In a chapter titled “The Restoration of Shame,” Bush apparently blamed the “irresponsible conduct” of births to unmarried women on a flagging sense of community ridicule and shaming.

When Bush was recently asked by MSNBC about the passage, he responded, “My views have evolved over time, but my views about the importance of dads being involved in the lives of children hasn’t changed at all. In fact, since 1995 … this book was a book about cultural indicators and the country has moved in the wrong direction. We have a 40-plus percent out-of-wedlock birth rate.  It’s a huge challenge for single moms to raise children in the world that we’re in today and it hurts the prospects, it limits the possibilities of young people being able to live lives of purpose and meaning.”

NY Times columnist Charles Blow recently challenged Bush’s position and instead opined a two-prong solution:

  1. First, we should seek to reduce the level of unintended pregnancies in this country. This means that we must wrestle earnestly with poverty, as well as make a more comprehensive sex education and a full range of contraceptive options available, regardless of income.  People should become parents on purpose and not by accident.
  2. Second, we have to examine how we have used the law as an instrument to push unwed fathers out of homes, particularly poor ones, rather than encourage them to stay.

I agree with both men.  Blow’s solutions involve government activity, and that is especially appropriate here since many policy analysts believe that the government’s welfare policy played a large role in causing the disappearance of the dad from many families.  But Bush’s concern for cultural decay is also appropriate because government policy alone does not dictate morality and values.

May 16, 2015

Jeb Bush and Ivy Ziedrich

Filed under: Biography,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:22 am
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Jeb Bush is not my favorite Floridian running for the Republican nomination (Marco Rubio is), so his troubles this week are not totally unpleasant to me. But many in the media have taken a cheap shot at him for his dust-up a few days ago with erstwhile high school debater, current Nevada college student Ivy Ziedrich.  Liberals are characterizing her as a hero, akin to birth-control’s Sandra Fluke.

So what brilliant thing did Ziedrich do?  She confronted Jeb Bush after a town-hall forum, and according to a transcript in USA Today, she ask him if he would take a question from a college student about ISIS.  When Bush generously accepted, he harangued him with the following:

  • Ziedrich: The threat of ISIS was created by the Iraqi Coalition Authority which ousted the entire government of Iraq. It was when 30,000 individuals who were part of the Iraqi military, they were forced out, they had no employment, they had no income. Yet they were left with access to all of the same arms and weapons. Your brother created ISIS.

After the soliloquy, Bush asked the obvious – “Is that a question?”

To which Ziedrich proffered an ad hominem non sequitur – “You don’t need to be pedantic to me, sir.”

Pedantic?  Pedantic means someone who is showing off their knowledge.  If anyone was being pedantic, it was Ziedrich showing off by using a term even without knowing its meaning, which Bush pointed out – “Pedantic? Wow.”

Amazingly, Ziedrich asserted – “You could just answer my question.”

Bush’s obvious response – “So what is the question?”

This finally elicited a semblance of a question from Ziedrich – “My question is why are you saying that ISIS was created by us not having a presence in the Middle East when it’s pointless wars, when we sent young men to die for the idea of American exceptionalism? It’s this idea – like, why are you spouting nationalistic rhetoric to get us involved in more wars?”

Jeb Bush ended the confrontation by giving Ziedrich a thoughtful answer to her incoherent ramblings – “We respectfully disagree… Al Qaeda had been taken out, there was a fraudulent system that could have been brought up to create, to eliminate the sectarian violence and we had an agreement that the president could have signed, it would have kept 10,000 troops, which is less than what we have in Korea. It could have created the stability that would have allow for Iraq to progress. The net result was, the opposite occurred because immediately that void was filled. And so, look, you can rewrite history all you want but the simple fact is that we’re in a much more unstable place because America pulled back.

Jeb Bush handled Ziedrich wonderfully. It’s sad that 15 minutes of fame, instead of infamy, go to a college student for being impudent.

December 10, 2012

Jeb Bush on education reform

Filed under: Education,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 2:35 am
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Jeb Bush was interviewed in Time magazine this week.  He is, in my opinion, the American politician with the best judgment on education reform.  Among his excellent insights, all of which I agree with:

  1. Social mobility.  There is now increasing, irrefutable evidence linking our country’s prosperity to education outcomes.  We’ve lost our leadership in education, and now we’re one of the least socially mobile countries in the world. You can directly link it to a variety of factors, but the solution has to include transformational education reform.
  2. How to grade Obama?  A passing grade. Which is better than I’d give him on economic policy or budget policy. He has a heart for kids.  And he has Arne Duncan, and I think Arne deserves praise.
  3. Race-based standardsI don’t think there needs to be a [school accountability] requirement based on race. If you’re going to pick anything, pick poverty. [Florida’s] system is better in that it has an extra focus on the lowest[-performing] 25 percent.  I get tired of hearing people, well-meaning people, talking about African-American kids or Hispanic kids as if they’re all the same. Which isn’t true. There is a very diverse group of people in both groups in terms of income, objectives in life, aspirations, cultural wants, habits, all the things that make us unique Americans. This identity politics is unhealthy in education policy. It started under our previous president.
  4. What is the role of poverty in education?  I would reverse the question: education impacts poverty, not the other way around. If we don’t empower families to be able to have a quality education, then their children for the first time in American history, truly the first time, will not have the same economic opportunities. That’s not speculation. The evidence is in.  There are other reasons why people are poor. There are cultural reasons, economic competitiveness reasons. There are a lot of reasons why people are in poverty. The difference today is that increasingly they are in perpetual poverty. That is so un-American and such a tragedy.
  5. How do we improve social mobility and eliminate perpetual poverty?  To me there are several ways to get out of this. One is to have a spiritual revival. I’m not an expert on that, way above my pay grade, but that’s one path historically we’ve seen, where wholesome, loving family life changes the course and direction of children’s plight and their future. Or building a high-growth economy where there are opportunities across the economic ladder, changing job training programs and things like that.  But without transforming the education system, where there’s access to high quality education, it doesn’t matter the zip code in which you live — I think we’re trapping a whole generation, not just kids at the poverty level. That is so dangerous for a country like ours that is based on the exact opposite premise.
  6. How do the centrists prevail over the right-left coaltion that opposes education reform?  There are people on the right who are fearful of federal encroachment. That fear, I don’t think is justified, although there is enough history behind federal encroachment for everybody to be diligent. On the left, they see these higher standards being implemented in a way that shows that children are not learning and the unions are fearful that that exposure, which is real and truthful, will put them in a vulnerable position politically.  So do alliances of mutual convenience based on powerful emotions and economic interests trump a perhaps broader but more passive [movement] to date? That’s the question. I don’t know the answer, but I know where I stand.

Let’s see – we had a Bush #41 and a #43; how about Bush #45?

November 13, 2012

George P.G. Bush

Filed under: Biography,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:57 am
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A Facebook friend of mine (Randy Bear) recently blogged about Texas rising star George P. Bush.  Actually it is more accurate to say George P.G. Bush because his full legal name is George Prescott Garnica Bush.  (While Prescott comes from his dad’s family, Garnica comes from his mom’s.)  Bush is in the news because he recently filed a Treasurer-naming document that is required in Texas before potential state or local candidates can start raising or spending money. 

For those not familiar with P.G., he is the oldest child of Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who was recently listed by Time magazine as a Republican presidential frontrunner for 2016.  Jeb’s claim to fame, other than his family name, is his moderation on the immigration issue (he is married to a naturalized citizen from Mexico) and his heavy involvement in education reform. 

P.G.’s claim to fame, other than being Jeb’s eldest, is being a poster child for bringing Mexican-Americans under the Republican tent.  This poster-child role started in 1988, at the age of 12, when he spoke at the Republican convention that nominated his grandfather – Bush-41 – and he reprised the role in 1992.  Then in 2000 and 2004, P.G. campaigned for Bush-43, who unsuccessfully pushed much harder than President Obama for illegal immigrants to have a path to citizenship.  That probably explains why Bush-43 was able to garner up to 40% of the Hispanic vote.

I have two problems with George P.G. Bush – (1) he has minimal experience in the private economy (i.e., he wants to be a career politician), and (2) he is a part of the political aristocracy.  America is better served by politicians who can relate to the middle class. 

Someone who apparently agrees with me on this matter is none other than Barbara Bush.  According to Wikipedia, she provided P.G. with the following advice a few years ago:

  • Anyone thinking about entering politics should distinguish himself in some other field first: “Make a name for yourself, have a family, marry someone great, have some kids, buy a house, pay taxes, and do the things everyone also does instead of just running out and saying, ‘Hey, I’m the nephew of or the son of or the grandson of…‘.”

I couldn’t have said it better.  Although P.G. seems like a fine person with a strong education and commendable military service in his background, I don’t think his brief work in corporate law followed by a partnership in an Austin real estate investment company and a Fort Worth business consultancy (none of which has experienced any significant success) satisfies Barbara’s criteria.  But you can’t blame him for being impatient; Obama was, too, and look what happened to him.