Gingrich’s “Deep Well of Ideas”

Newt Gingrich’s ideas are so profound! It’s a wonder they can be encapsulated in one New York Times fluffer!

From Jeff Zeleny’s puff piece on disgraced fromer House speaker Newt Gingrich:

Rival Republicans marvel at his deep well of ideas, his innate intellect and his knowledge of government.

And this:

If Mr. Gingrich moves forward with a presidential bid, as his advisers and friends say he is poised to do as soon as this week, he will start with a reputation as one of his party’s most creative thinkers.

Hmmm.  What might be the content of this “deep well of ideas”?  What makes Gingrich one of his party’s “most creative thinkers”?

Well, there’s this:

[His message is]  so concise that he pulls it from the breast pocket of his suit, no matter if he is delivering an intimate dinner speech or addressing a large audience, as he did recently at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The note card reads: “2 + 2 = 4.”

My God!  How deep!  How creative!  And this:

“To a surprising degree, we are in a situation similar to Poland’s in 1979,” he told the audience, which had gathered at a banquet for Ohio Right to Life, one of the nation’s oldest anti-abortion groups. “In America, religious belief is being challenged by a cultural elite trying to create a secularized America, in which God is driven out of public life.”

I’m in awe.  What a profound understanding of comparative government and the long arc of history!

Your liberal media at work.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

23 thoughts on “Gingrich’s “Deep Well of Ideas””

  1. Notice that the Catholic Church has relatively influence on policy in Poland — abortion, contraception, and divorce are still legal.

  2. Let’s not forget this statement from Gingrich, said with reference to President Obama: “The secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.”

  3. Googling “Poland 1979” I learn that John Paul II visited the country, to a spectacular reception, in 1979.

    What does this have to do with the US today? Does Gingrich, hilariously, see himself as the Pope returning to inspire his people? Is the man mad?

  4. Sarcasm’s a step up, I suppose, from flat insults.
    Do you intend a criticism of the former Speaker or of the news media, here?

    I met the Speaker once, at the Ed in ’08 conference. He delivered a well-informed and provocative luncheon address, with emphasis on using market incentives to create options outside the standard K-12 full-service, one-size-fits-all model, which, he observed, kills motivation. He mentioned the MIT one-laptop-per-child initiative (dead at the hands of CPSA bureaucrats, I understand). At the end of the conference several presenters met with smaller audience groups. I figured that his group would be over-subscribed, so I enlisted in Joanne Jacobs’ group. Speaker Gingrich walked past our table and I called out “Mr. Speaker!” and waved a copy of these charts, which I thought supported the points he made in his luncheon address. He looked at them and said: “You’d think it would be the other way around”. So I guess he wasn’t as free from standard assumptions about the US school system as his speech suggested. On balance, though, I’d weigh the speech more than the off-the-cuff remark, though.

  5. I want him to run because he’s the only Republican hopeful besides Palin with net negatives. He’d be the Guiliani of 2012 (unless Rudy comes back for another round, but I couldn’t be that lucky, right?).

  6. @ Malcolm,
    I don’t know which is sadder: your ignorance about One-Laptop-Per-Child or your hatred of consumer-protection laws.

    One-Laptop-Per-Child (which was created and is helmed by the Chairman Emeritus of the Media Lab at MIT, but has never been officially affiliated with MIT) was a revolutionary idea to design and distribute $100 laptops to disadvantaged children. What eventually resulted was a very interesting machine, but it wasn’t $100; more like $200. And by the time it came out, it was in any case possible to buy a $200 netbook (which had been fairly unthinkable when the $100 laptop was proposed several years earlier), so the XO laptop became a bit surplus to requirements. It also fell victim to the housing bubble, in that it suddenly became a lot harder to find someone willing to donate the money for millions of laptops for the third world. Reading the Wikipedia article about OPLC, it is hard to escape the impression that the main problem of OPLC is that no-one can work for long with Nicholas Negroponte.

    As to the product safety rules that you find so objectionable, I don’t know enough to know whether these particular limits are reasonable, but the notion of protecting children from playthings suffused with lead is hardly a crazy one. In any case, it’s got essentially nothing to do with One Laptop Per Child, as the XO laptop was not made in the US, the only laptops regulated in the US were those delivered to the US, and the US was never envisioned as being a major market for them (the US almost reaches 1% of orders listed in a table on that Wikipedia page). Although some were sold here, mostly as a curiosity, and there were even some notions of supplying whole communities with them, the plan was much more centered around the third world. Indeed, the most interesting features of the XO laptop, having to do with its power needs, are essentially irrelevant in the US.

  7. I figured that his group would be over-subscribed, so I enlisted in Joanne Jacobs’ group. Speaker Gingrich walked past our table and I called out “Mr. Speaker!” and waved a copy of these charts, which I thought supported the points he made in his luncheon address.

    Those charts? You waved those? Charts of juvenile arrests in Hawaii showing apparent downticks in crime during the summer? As proof for the needs of deep structural changes in education across America? That’s not science son. That’s confirmation bias straining over a toilet to show the earth is flat. I don’t think even Beck could take that data and stretch it to the gird the world in 90 minutes like that…

  8. @koreyel
    It’s obvious what those charts prove: we need to repeal mandatory education and child labor laws, because when kids are able to work in summer jobs they have the money to avoid petty crime, and they have less time and energy for it.

    Don’t like that preconception? OK, then it’s obvious that if all kids had permanent childhood year-round summer vacation in freaking Hawaii they would be too busy surfing to shoplift.

    Or maybe it’s that without the stresses of school they use less drugs, and without the peer pressures of the enforced interactions at school they need less money.

    Malcolm’s preconceived notion appears to be something about how they’re at home over the summer, not at school, so kids who are at home – i.e. home-schooled kids – commit less crime. This is, if anything, less well supported than any of my three deliberately silly preconceived notions above. First of all, as policy it’s rather blithering: home-schooling requires a committed, available, educated parent, which is a hard thing to legislate, especially in a free society. Also, while I assume that the increased supervision, restricted social interactions, and stereotyped (if possibly false) introversion and morally straightlaced lifestyle of home-schooled kids might cause them to have a lower baseline of crime than their average age peers (although once you match for income and for two-parent homes this may not even be true), but if your question is about the civic benefits of home schooling you really should have relevant data. Malcolm’s charts don’t even question whether home-schooled kids might similarly commit more crime outside of the summer than during it.

  9. > I met the Speaker once, at the Ed in ’08 conference.
    > He delivered a well-informed and provocative luncheon
    > address,

    Did he mention his deep and abiding faith in Republican Family Values(tm)? A faith so deep and abiding that he has divorced two women so that he can form a total of three valuable families? So abiding that he had divorce papers delivered to his first wife whilst she lay in the recovery room after surgery? Now THAT’S deep behavior.

    Cranky

  10. I can’t say I would be displeased if Newt received the Republican nomination in 2012. He deserves to get trounced.

    The only person I can see even coming close to beating Obama in the next election is Huckabee. And he’d still be a longshot.

    And speaking of NYT puff pieces, the recent one on Christie was disgustingly anti-worker. I still can’t understand how anyone could like a guy as morally ugly as him.

  11. This is just another case where the white guys in the Republican Party have no women around to reality-check their own preference biases and so really have no idea how entirely loathsome Newt, in his person and history, is to women at large.

    Just like the old farts sitting around in a room with McCain at The Choosing of the Running-Mate said to each other, “This chick is HOT! The women will LOVE her!” and there were no women to give them a patriarchal clue about Sarah, the Lead Balloon of Sisterhood.

    Bring Newt on, baby. Bring, it, on.

  12. (Koreyel): “Those charts? You waved those? Charts of juvenile arrests in Hawaii showing apparent downticks in crime during the summer? As proof for the needs of deep structural changes in education across America? That’s not science son. That’s confirmation bias straining over a toilet to show the earth is flat. I don’t think even Beck could take that data and stretch it to the gird the world in 90 minutes like that…

    What do you consider evidence, then? That was ten years of monthly juvenile arrest data frrom a major metropolis, a statistically significant sample. If school is psychologically abusive then we would expect a school-related variation in abuse-related behavior. Beth Clarkson, a statistician at Wichita State University, found a similar seasonal (school-related) variation in juvenile arrests in Wichita, Ks. In Hawaii, juvenile hospitalizations for human-induced trauma also fall in summer, when school is not in session.

    Roland Meighan
    “Home-based Education Effectiveness Research and Some of its Implications”
    __Educational Review__, Vol. 47, No.3

    The issue of social skills. One edition of Home School Researcher, Volume 8, Number 3, contains two research reports on the issue of social skills. The first finding of the study by Larry Shyers (1992) was that home-schooled students received significantly lower problem behavior scores than schooled children. His next finding was that home-schooled children are socially well adjusted, but schooled children are not so well adjusted. Shyers concludes that we are asking the wrong question when we ask about the social adjustment of home-schooled children. The real question is why is the social; adjustment of schooled children of such poor quality?…
    …The second study, by Thomas Smedley (1992), used different test instruments but comes to the same conclusion, that home-educated children are more mature and better socialized than those attending school…
    …So-called ‘school phobia’ is actually more likely to be a sign of mental health, whereas school dependancy is a largely unrecognized mental health problem

    Hyman and Penroe
    __Journal of School Psychology__

    Several studies of maltreatment by teachers suggest that school children report traumatic symptoms that are similar whether the traumatic event was physical or verbal abuse…Extrapolation from these studies suggests that psychological maltreatment of school children, especially those who are poor, is fairly widespread in the United States….
    …schools do not encourage research regarding possible emotional maltreatment of students by staff or investigatiion into how this behavior might affect student misbehavior…
    …Since these studies focused on teacher-induced PTSD and explored all types of teacher maltreatment, some of the aggressive feelings were also caused by physical or sexual abuse. There was no attempt to separate actual aggression from feelings of aggression. The results indicated that at least 1% to 2% of the respondents’ symptoms were sufficient for a diagnosis of PTSD. It is known that when this disorder develops as a result of interpersonal violence, externalizing symptoms are often the result (American Psychiatric Association, 1994)…
    …While 1% to 2% might not seem to be a large percentage of a school-aged population, in a system like New York City, this would be about 10,000 children so traumatized by educators that they may suffer serious, and sometimes lifelong emotional problems (Hyman, 1990; Hyman, Zelikoff & Clarke, 1988). A good percentage of these students develop angry and aggressive responses as a result. Yet, emotional abuse and its relation to misbehavior in schools receives little pedagogical, psychological, or legal attention and is rarely mentioned in textbooks on school discipline (Pokalo & Hyman, 1993, Sarno, 1992)…
    …As with corporal punishment, the frequency of emotional maltreatment in schools is too often a function of the socioeconomic status (SES) of the student population (Hyman, 1990)…

    Clive Harber,
    “Schooling as Violence”
    __Educatioinal Review__V. 54, #1.

    “…It is almost certainly more damaging for children to be in school than to out of it. Children whose days are spent herding animals rather than sitting in a classroom at least develop skills of problem solving and independence while the supposedly luckier ones in school are stunted in their mental, physical, and emotional development by being rendered pasive, and by having to spend hours each day in a crowded classroom under the control of an adult who punishes them for any normal level of activity such as moving or speaking.”

    Clive Harber
    “Schooling as Violence”
    __Educatioinal Review__V. 54, #1

    Furthermore, according to a report for UNESCO, cited in Esteve (2000), the increasing level of pupil-teacher and pupil-pupil violence in classrooms is directly connected with compulsory schooling. The report argues that institutional violence against pupils who are obliged to attend daily at an educational centre until 16 or 18 years of age increases the frustration of these students to a level where they externalise it.

    Linda Darling-Hammond
    __American School Board Journal__, September 1999

    …(M)any well-known adolescent difficulties are not intrinsic to the teenage years but are related to the mismatch between adolescents’ developmental needs and the kinds of experiences most junior high and high schools provide. When students need close affiliation, they experience large depersonalized schools; when they need to develop autonomy, they experience few opportunities for choice and punitive approaches to discipline…

    E. G. West
    Carleton University, Department of Economics
    Ottawa, Canada
    “Schooling and Violence”

    We conclude that so far there is no evidence to support the 19th century Utilitarian hypothesis that the use of a secular and public school system will reduce crime. Beyond this there is some evidence indeed that suggests the reverse causality: crime actually increases with the increase in the size of the public school sector. Such findings will undoubtedly stimulate further work, and clearly more research would be helpful. But if further investigation confirms the findings of Lott, Fremling, and Coleman, we must reach the verdict that the cost of public schooling is much higher than was originally believed. Published figures show that the conventional cost of public schools, on average, are already just over twice those of private schools.11 When we add to this the extra social costs of increased delinquency, the full seriousness of the inefficiency of our public school system is more starkly exposed.

    Please read this article on artificially extended adolescence by Ted Kolderie.

    Richard Rhodes
    __Why they Kill: The Discoveries of a Maverick Criminologist__

    Criminal violence emerges from social experience, most commonly brutal social experience visited upon vulnerable children, who suffer for our neglect of their welfare and return in vengeful wrath to plague us. If violence is a choice they make, and there- fore their personal responsibility, as Athens demonstrates it is, our failure to protect them from having to confront such a choice is a choice we make, just as a disease epidemic would be implicitly our choice if we failed to provide vaccines and antibiotics. Such a choice-to tolerate the brutalization of children as we continue to do-is equally violent and equally evil, and we reap what we sow.

  13. 1. I’ve discovered a new source of amusement: watching movement conservatives defend Newt. I must confess, I don’t know who to give money to for my amusement: Newtie or Tundra Trash Barbie.

    2. What will it take to keep Betsy around? How do we make that happen?

  14. “To a surprising degree, we are in a situation similar to Poland’s in 1979,”

    He does have a point only he’s off by a year: members of an independent labor union in Poland in 1980 fought an oppressive government seeking their destruction.

  15. Dan — Hm, good question. Malcolm offered to smash me with a baseball bat last time; that seemed to work, and it really adds to the rhetorical effect of his multiple blockquotes. It’s especially supportive of his hypotheses about why some people are poorly socialized and/or violent.

  16. I’m 4 Betsy.

    Commentable venues with all male perspectives generally degenerate to Brett & Co.

    Wouldn’t hurt for the authors to bring a different gender aboard. Or is it
    gender perspective?

  17. Malcolm, arguing that the standard model for education, especially for the disadvantaged, can be terribly dehumanizing and compounds anti-authoritarian and sociological/psychological problems is nothing new. That pendulum “done swung” decades ago. The problem is developing policy that can move in that direction whilst pleasing a variety of often competing pedagogical and social perspectives. What we generally have now is the product of a variety of compromises, and a status quo that is going no where fast.

    There are likely many models for education that would be a lot better than what we are doing now. The problem is doing them at scale so as to guarantee every child a quality education. Homeschooling doesn’t fit into that problem. Most parents capable of homeschooling their children will likely do so just fine, as they are a select group with considerable human/social capital. But that has little to do with shaping public education at a local, state or national level, and meeting the needs of all children.

    I would like to see much more of what you are talking about, and much less of the current accountability/standards/authoritarian model – as would most teachers and unions. But it has to be done right, and I think we’re likely at least a decade from even getting back to discussions of that kind of progressivity in education.

  18. Newt is a paragon of self righteous hypocricy in a political party filled with self righteous hypocrits. The only ideas he or his bretheren have boil down to punishing their enemies, getting elected and first and foremost amassing fortunes by collecting speaking fees, getting installed in rightwing think tanks, getting jobs as interviewees/interviewers on FOX, running web sites selling t-sirts and mugs, and on and on… I particularly like Newt’s scam of “giving” awards to small businesses for an obligatory donation of a specified thousands of bucks commemorated by an engraved gavel and an autographed photo of Newt. Is the autograph done by a machine? No doubt.
    Meeting Newt in the porkey flesh has all the apeal of meeting Bernie Madoff. Both men are charismatic, greasy charlatans and after shaking hands with them one should always count fingers.

  19. “Rival Republicans marvel at his deep well of ideas, his innate intellect and his knowledge of government.”

    Damn, now I’m going to have to eat lunch all over again.

  20. (Eli): “The problem is developing policy that can move in that direction whilst pleasing a variety of often competing pedagogical and social perspectives. What we generally have now is the product of a variety of compromises, and a status quo that is going no where fast.

    Thanks for a temperate response.

    As I see it, the problem is on display in Wisconsin. System insiders dominate(d) decision-making at all levels, from individual discipline decisions to aggregate curriculum and budget dcisions. The State-monopoly model has inflexibility and unresponsiveness built in, and a positive feedback loop where recipients of tax subsidies use tax subsidies to lobby for more tax subsidies.

    (Eli): “There are likely many models for education that would be a lot better than what we are doing now.”
    That’s one function of a market in goods and services. “What works?” is an empirical question to which an experiment (a competitive market) will generally provide a better answer than will bureaucratic fiat.

    (Eli): “The problem is doing them at scale so as to guarantee every child a quality education.
    That’s imposing an impossible condition on any alternative to the current policy. A policy environment which creates incentives for both vendors and clients to seek incremental advantages will spur continuous improvement.

    (Eli): “Homeschooling doesn’t fit into that problem. Most parents capable of homeschooling their children will likely do so just fine, as they are a select group with considerable human/social capital. But that has little to do with shaping public education at a local, state or national level, and meeting the needs of all children.
    Alaska subsidizes homeschooling through enrollment in a government-operated correspondence school. Parents receive (last I looked) $3,000 per pupil-year for educational expenses. What started as a education option for remote households became popular with parents in big cities, like Fairbanks and Sitka.

    (Eli): “I would like to see much more of what you are talking about, and much less of the current accountability/standards/authoritarian model – as would most teachers and unions.
    System insiders inevitably subvert internal accountability mechanisms. I recomment Parent Performance Contracting.

  21. (Betsy): “Malcolm offered to smash me with a baseball bat last time; that seemed to work, and it really adds to the rhetorical effect of his multiple blockquotes.

    She means this exchange:
    (Betsy): “Give me a break.
    (Malcolm): “Give me a baseball bat.
    If you weren’t dismissive of opposing arguments, maybe I’d deal with your arguments (if you’d care to make one). Do you offer any rebuttal to the quoted material? Not that I have seen.

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