Are “the meritorious” a protected class?

March 19, 2019

In a prior post, I opined  that an applicant to an elite college is “qualified” to attend that college if they have sufficient smarts and dedication to learning that it is reasonable to expect that they can successfully complete the coursework that’s required to earn a degree.

See Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

If you buy that definition, then many (maybe most) of rejected applicants are qualified … but get rejected because there aren’t enough slots to accommodate all of them.

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Which raises another question: is there certainty that the most qualified students get offered admission?

Read the rest of this entry »

Just how dumb are Lori Loughlin’s daughters?

March 18, 2019

Or, the more pertinent question: Are Lori’s daughters “qualified” to attend USC?
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I hate to pick on Lori Loughlin’s daughters (<=not really) but, in the recent college admissions scandal, they’re the only  kids who have been outted (in detail) by the media … and, let’s be honest, they are easy targets.

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Evidence re: smart or dumb is scant – i.e. IQ or legit SAT scores haven’t been reported – but there are a couple of data points:

  1. The video loops on cable news are less than flattering (e.g. “I’m looking forward to the football games and parties” — not “the high level of intellectual challenge”);
  2. Lori’s stating that “I didn’t push my daughters to get A’s in high school” — suggests that they met their mom’s low bar and didn’t get many A’s;
  3. it took a whopping $500,000 to open USC’s “side door” for the girls — that suggests that the girls had a lot ground to make up.
  4. Lori shelled out the $500,000 (and allegedly committed a couple of felonies in the process) …that’s pretty dumb … and, at least some of everybody’s “smarts” comes via their parents DNA.

So, it seems reasonable to conclude that the girls aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Does that mean that they aren’t “qualified” to attend USC?  

That’s a trickier question…

Read the rest of this entry »

Why are Asian-American students dominating “elite” schools?

March 15, 2019

No, they don’t buy-off sports coaches and abuse standardized testing procedures. 
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Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (“TJ” for short), is a selective DC-area magnet school designed to provide an elite, high-tech education for the most academically gifted students in Northern Virginia.

The school offers rigorous study in advanced college-level offerings like electrodynamics, neurobiology, and artificial intelligence.

High octane academics, for sure … offered to the best and brightest.

What’s the rub?

Demographic mix.

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The school’s newly accepted Class of 2022 is 65 percent Asian, 23 percent white, five percent Hispanic, and two percent black.

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20 years ago, the concern was that Black and Hispanic representation at TJ was less than half their demographic mix in Fairfax County – the “feeder” county.

Several initiatives were launched to increase Black and Hispanic representation, including early identification and proactive outreach to high potential minority children; supplementary in-school and extracurricular programs to teach and mentor them; and more ready access to prep and gateway courses such as Algebra.

While undertaking those initiatives, something unexpected happened.

The numbers of Black and Hispanic students applying and enrolled at TJ remained stalled at the pre-initiative levels. So, that’s still a concern.

But, during the same time period (and unrelated to the minority initiatives), the number of white students declined sharply … and the number of Asian-American students has soared.

Why is that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Before climate change, there was the “Population Bomb”.

March 14, 2019

And, there are remarkable similarities.
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Recently, in one of her articulated streams of consciousness, AOC warned that we all would be toast in 12 years if global warming wasn’t arrested.

Time to metal-cube our SUVs and mass-slaughter the bovine-methane creatures, right?

Well, not so fast.

While AOC’s warning may come to fruition, I’m betting the over on the 12 years … in part, because it fits a pattern of hysterical unrealized doomsday predictions.

For example, circa. 1970, Prof. Paul Ehrlich  (Stanford University) wrote Malthusian-inspired book: The Population Bomb. The book became a runaway “scientific” best-seller.

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Smithonian.com

Ehrlich warned that because of unchecked population growth:

The battle to feed all of humanity is over.

Hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death.

All of us will face mass starvation on a dying planet.

While their were some deniers, demographers agreed almost unanimously with Ehrlich’s doomsday prediction ….

Read the rest of this entry »

#3 – Why I’m lukewarm to climate change…

March 13, 2019

Reason #3: The “97% of scientists” baloney

For the record: I’m neither a denier nor a zealot …  so, according to British writer (& phrase-coiner) Matt Ridley, I’m a “lukewarmer”.

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Since AOC rolled out her Green New Deal, I’ve heard many left-leaning pundits spouting the oft-repeated but unsupported claim that 97% of scientists agree that climate change (nee, ‘global warming’) is real, man-caused and catastrophic.

Reason enough to flashback to our long ago post debunking the 97% malarkey.

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In a prior posts, I covered:

Reason #1Unsettling Science … I’ve gotten  cognitive whiplash from “Ice Age” u-turning to  “Global Warming”  …  which was slowed by an “18-year Pause” … and then wrapped in a catch-all “Climate Change”.

Reason #2Al Gore and his doomsday prediction …  in 2016 we passed his point of no return towards a true planetary emergency  … without the planet melting or exploding … and with Manhattan still above water (I think).

Let’s move on…

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My 3rd reason: The “97% of scientists” baloney.

This claim really gained traction when former President Obama tweeted:

“97% percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.”

Case closed, settled science, right?

Not so fast …

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Let’s start with a simple smell test:

Can you think of any issue that garners 97% agreement?

My bet is that 97%% of “scientists” don’t even agree that smoking causes cancer.

Pick your issue … 97% … really?

Doesn’t smell right to me, but maybe climate change the exception to the rule.

So, let’s deep dive the claim…

Read the rest of this entry »

The politics of the Supreme Court…

March 12, 2019

Conservatives are fretting (rightfully) that Roberts is trending liberal. 
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Let’s put SCOTUS political leanings in context….

Political scientists Andrew Martin and Kevin Quinn developed  a measure to calibrate how liberal or conservative SCOTUS justices are … based on their rulings.

As near as I can tell, the measure is uncontested by either ideology.

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Source

First, let’s pull some takeaways from the chart…

Read the rest of this entry »

OMG: One of Dem’s loose cannons unloads on Obama…

March 11, 2019

Congresswoman Omar: “Hope and change was just a mirage”
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Frosh Congresswoman ilhan Omer set off an anti-Israel, anti-Semite bruhaha last week.

That was broadly covered by the MSM.

But, the MSM has largely ignored the Congresswoman’s interview with left-leaning Politico.

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In the lPolitico: interview Omar is quoted as saying:

We can’t be only upset with Trump.

His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies.

They just were more polished than he is.

Who was she talking about?

Read the rest of this entry »

Bridge champ busted for doping … say, what?

March 8, 2019

More evidence that the world is continuing to get wackier and wackier…

Flashback: Last year, during the the 2018 Olympics, a  husband & wife mixed doubles curling team from  Russia was stripped of their bronze medals when he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

You read that right: In the brute of all brute sports … CURLING!

For details. see our prior post Russia’s very bad week continues …

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The draconian action by the Olympic Committee struck me as a bit puritanical overkill.

But, it may have been outdone by the the World Bridge Federation…

Read the rest of this entry »

Border Chief: “System is at breaking point.”

March 7, 2019

Dems say that illegal crossings have declined in the past couple of years, evidence that that there is no crisis … and certainly no national emergency.

That narrative seems to have hit a bump in the road.

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Let’s drill down on the numbers…

Read the rest of this entry »

The (personal) economics of Medicare premiums

March 6, 2019

After paying Medicare taxes for years, weren’t the benefits supposed to be free?
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Yesterday, we argued that Medicare’s payroll taxes can thought of as prepaid premiums … that amortize to the equivalent of $10,000 per year over a retiree’s post-65 life span.

See Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare payroll taxes

And, we pointed out that the prepaid premiums are just the tip of the iceberg.

Once retired, the Feds collects additional annual Medicare premiums.

This may surprise pre-retirement folks who think that they pay in during their working years, but then get “free” healthcare insurance when they retire.

image_thumb[3]After

Today, let’s take a look at Medicare premiums…

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: The (personal) economics of Medicare.

March 5, 2019

Over the years, I’ve anteed about $250,000 into the Medicare tax kitty.

And, you may have  thrown in more than you think!
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Motivated by Medicare for All hype coming from far-left-leaning Dems presidential candidates, I finally took a serious look at the buckos that I’ve thrown into the Medicare kitty over the years.

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I’d like to say that I was surprised, but I really wasn’t.

Here are the details…

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump may be wrong about the U.S. going socialist…

March 4, 2019

… AOC may be holding the matches, but the GOP tax reform provided the kindling. 

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Last week, I whined that – though I’m getting a tax refund this year – my income taxes went up in 2018.

I’m ok with that since I conclude that the corporate cuts turbo-charged the economy and the stock market … and my IRA account gains are much larger than my additional taxes.

But, I do have a mega-concern that I started touting way back in 2017 when the GOP tax reform was being crafted, debated and passed.

My mega-concern is the long-run tilt in voting dynamics, in the new age of the Green Dream, Medicare for All and Guaranteed Minimum Income (for those who are unable or unwilling to work).

Let’s start with a flashback…

Remember Mitt Romneys ill-timed observation about “47% of Americans”.

No, they weren’t Hillary’s “deplorables”, they were simply the folks who pay no Federal income taxes.

Well if the GOP tax plan got enacted … the 47% is still alive .. and now on steroids..

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Source

Let’s drill down on the data…

Read the rest of this entry »

“Half of all U.S. colleges to close or go bankrupt in the next decade”

March 1, 2019

That’s the gloomy prediction of disruption guru Clayton Christensen
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And, it’s not just the tidal wave of online programs or ballooning college tuitions.

Moreso, Christensen’s prediction is on track, according to a WSJ recap of economist Nathan Grawe’s “Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education.”

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Grawe’s central thesis: Birthrates have plunged 13% since the Great Recession … and that “birth dearth” will cost America 450,000 fewer college applicants in the 2020s.

Here are some of the specifics….

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s “Exhausted Majority”…

February 28, 2019

Can they muscle up to pull us together?
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A lot of punditry these days about American Tribalism … categorizing people by common interests …  usually with a demographic slant (i.e. race. gender, and location – urban, rural; coastal or Heartland).

Those “tribes” are usually characterized as warring factions with little in common.

The result: sharp differences and apparently intractable political polarization.

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An organization called More in Common did some research that takes a different cut at the situation.

Their study – America’s Hidden Tribes – identified seven distinct groups of Americans. These are our Hidden Tribes of America: distinguished not by who they are or what they look like, but what they believe. (Below – at end of this post – are descriptions of the groups)

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The study reached three fundamental conclusions…

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s official: my tax refund is bigger this year…

February 27, 2019

But, to my dismay, my taxes increased
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These days, all the publicity is about people who are getting smaller tax refunds this year … clear evidence, they say, that Trump lied about cutting middle class taxes.

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Not really.

People seem to easily confuse “refunds” with “taxes paid”.

Of course, the relevant measure is “taxes paid” … and, most middle-classers are paying less in taxes.

But, behavioral economics and psychology kick in … and, people wrongly focus on their refunds.

If I did that, I’d be feeling great today

Last year, I had to write a check to the government.  Ouch.  This year, I’m getting a statistically insignificant refund.

Good news, right?

Nope … because my taxes went up.

My income stayed about the same … so the increase was due to the tax law changes.

When I drilled down on the causes & effects, I got a few surprises….

Read the rest of this entry »

Why the Senate won’t rescind Trump’s emergency declaration….

February 26, 2019

Yesterday, we argued the case for Trump prevailing legally.

Again today, let’s set aside aside the question of “should he do it?” … and focus on “can he do it?”.

Specifically, will Trump survive a Congressional move to Undeclare his national emergency?

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OK, Pelosi is going to push through a resolution to “undeclare: Trump’s national emergency.

Dems will vote in lockstep, and the bill will will be passed over to the Senate.

Dems are ecstatic that a handful of GOP Senators are hinting may jump party lines and that enough my vote aye on the undeclaration.

Not so fast, grasshoppers.

There are a couple of reasons why I don’t expect the Senate to pass the Undeclaration Resolution…

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Trump’s national emergency gambit survive legal challenges?

February 25, 2019

Loosely written laws and established precedents are on his side.
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For a moment, let’s set aside aside the question of “should he do it?” … and focus on “can he do it?”.

There’s a great legal analysis in the right-leaning Federalist that concludes

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You can (and should) read the whole  article. It weaves legal specifics with tight logic.

Here are my key takeaways…

Read the rest of this entry »

12 Rules for Life

February 22, 2019

Today, let’s take an inspiration break from the  socio-political messes in DC, Virginia and Chicago…

Megan McArdle is a Bloomberg columnist who usually writes on the intersection of economics and politics.

On her 45th b-day, she penned her retrospective ‘12 Rules for Life’

A couple of her rules really resonated with me, starting with:

1. Be kind. Mean is easy; kind is hard. Making yourself feel bigger by making someone else feel small takes so little skill that 12-year-olds can do it.

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Here are the rest of my favorites, a link to the complete list, and a reason for the picture (#11) …

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe there is a political middle…

February 21, 2019

In the old days it was called the “silent majority”
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yesterday, we reprised a post: America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

That analysis ended in 2014 … showing a double-humped distribution that had been separating over the past decade or so.

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New data is now available, so let’s advance the picture to 2017

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Source: WaPo analysis of Pew data

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The humps have spread further apart … indicating sharper polarization.

The peaks are higher … especially the one on the left,

Also, note the vanishing middle (the dark blue on the graphic).

Now, let’s drill down another level…

Read the rest of this entry »

America’s political polarization in 3 charts …

February 20, 2019

The hardening political divide in Washington remindsme of an interesting analysis that NBC’s Chuck Todd did a couple of years ago.

So, let’s flashback:

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It’s no secret that American politics has become increasingly – and maybe, irreversibly – polarized.

Of course, Obama lays blame on Trump and his band of ignorant deplorables.

Let’s look at some inconvenient facts from Todd’s analysis…

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As Meet the Press host Chuck Todd puts it:

Polarization is no longer just polluting the system — it’s paralyzing it.

The deepening divide between the right and the left has largely hollowed out the center of American politics.

Gone are the politicians who once occupied the large “middle” and the voters who once gravitated to them.

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The Pew Research Center has tracked party identity and ideology for decades.

One way they do it is by scoring the Republicans and Democrats on a 10-item scale of political values.

Based on the latest Pew data (from 2014), here’s where we stand:

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What the chart means …

Democrats cluster to the left, Republicans cluster to the right.

There is less than 10% in each party leaning ideologically to the left (or right) of the other party’s median.

That’s where we are.

How did we get here?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sen. Amy Klobuchar: “I have grit!”

February 19, 2019

What is this “grit” that she’s talking about?
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Announcing her presidential candidacy (in a snow storm), Sen. Amy “Minnesota Nice” Klobuchar declared:

“I don’t have a political machine. I don’t come from money. But what I do have is this: I have grit,” 

I doubt that Klobuchar was intentionally trying to channel Donald Trump, but …

You may remember that In his first SOTU, President Trump gave a shout-out to “American grit.”:

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage.

We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.

And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.

So, what is this “grit” that they’re talking about?

Read the rest of this entry »

Trumps’s approval numbers on an uptick…

February 18, 2019

Last week, we posted Rasmussen poll results indicating that Trump’s approval got a bump after the SOTU.

See Trump approval up since SOTU…

Since Rasmussen leans right and doesn’t use classic interviewing techniques, it’s easy for some folks to dismiss the numbers.

But, Gallup is the gold standard of polling, right?

Well, the Rasmussen conclusion seems to be corroborated by Gallup.

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The most recent Gallup survey indicates that (1) Trump has more than bounced back from the shutdown dip, and (2) His approval – which is at a high water mark – is double that of Congress!

So, what’s going on?

Read the rest of this entry »

What you need to know about the border wall bruhaha…

February 15, 2019

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve put up a few posts addressing the border wall legislative mess.

To get you ready for weekend cocktail party debates on “the bill” and National Emergency, I’ve pulled together the posts into a sort of border wall primer.

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For openers, Dems like to say that Trump doesn’t have a plan … or that his defacto plan is “a concrete wall from sea to sea”.

Yes, the “build the wall” campaign rhetoric provides fodder for the sea-to-sea claimers, but Trumps plan (yes, there is one) has evolved to about 225 miles of steel slat barriers, strategically placed to slow the inbound flow across the borders and channel border crossers to bolstered “ports-of-entry.

See Cutting to the chase: What exactly is Trump demanding?

But, walls are ineffective and fundamentally immoral, right?

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Trump should feel ok about the border deal…

February 14, 2019

In technical terms. a binary switch got flipped.
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Pro-wall extremists are fretting that Trump got hosed since he only got $1.375 billion towards the border wall/

Not to worry, folks.

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The deal reminded me of an old story that provides some perspective…

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe non-essential government employees should learn to code.

February 13, 2019

According to the WSJ, the partial government shutdown prompted government employees to test the job market

Evidence: job site Indeed.com reports that page views coming from government employees working for unfunded agencies surged during the partial government.

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ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn report similar surges in government employee activity.

But, the WSJ concludes that despite the booming economy “there’s no evidence that the job-searching led to an actual exodus from the federal government’s payrolls.”

Why is that?

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump’s next headache: ‘Unrecognized’ tax-cut benefits.

February 12, 2019

We warned about this  a year ago in the post

Will 143 million households notice that their taxes have been cut?

Regrettably, our prediction seems to be coming to fruition.

There have been a flurry articles citing tax preparers who are warning that,  tax refunds will be smaller this year … lower in average, with fewer people getting refunds.

Most recent IRS data support that claim: average refunds are down 8.4% from this time last year.

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That’s a big deal … and, will be a big headache for President Trump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump approval up since SOTU…

February 11, 2019

May put a new paint job on conference committee negotiations.
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First, a disclaimer of sorts.

Rasmussen skews right and its surveys are scoffed at by most traditional pollsters because they’re conducted without human contact … folks just answer questions via touch tone phone responses.

That said, I’ve found Rasmussen to be a good predictor on sensitive issues when people are reluctant to tell somebody what they think, but are willing to interact with an impersonal computer.

Bottom line:  Rasmussen says “Trump’s approval rating among likely voters has soared since the State of the Union and are at an all time high.”

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More specifically…

Read the rest of this entry »

West Virginia: Rebounding … and considering a name change.

February 11, 2019

According to the WSJ:

No state suffered more from the Obama regulatory assault than West Virginia as coal production and business investment plunged.

West Virginia’s revival started in early 2017 as coal and natural-gas production picked up.

Exports and the Trump Administration’s deregulation have lifted the industry.

Employment is up, wages are up … dependence on government programs is (e.g. food stamps, Medicaid) is down substantially,

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Now that West Virginia is back on it’s feet, there’s talk of a grassroots campaign for the state changing it’s name…

Read the rest of this entry »

WaPo: Majority of Virginia’s African-Americans say Northam should not resign.

February 11, 2019

Some interesting results from a weekend WaPo poll…

Overall, Virginians are split re: whether or not the blackface-revealed governor should resign.

Despite calls for his resignation from national Dems (Harris, Booker, Warren, etc.), a majority of Dems say he shouldn’t resign; a majority of Republicans and Independents say he should.

There was one head-scratcher in the poll results…

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Whites are evenly spilt on whether Northam should resign, but — Virginia’s African-Americans say that Northam should not  resign … by a margin of about 2 to 1.

What’s up with that?

Some hypotheses:

1) Blacks aren’t as offended by these long ago blackface transgressions as their visible spokespeople profess and are willing to forgive and forget

2) Support for Democratic policies and politicians outweighs any offense taken by these transgressions.

Regardless, expect Northam to be re-energized in his battle to hold on to power…

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DHS Expedites Border Wall Project in San Diego … say what?

February 9, 2019

MUST READ: Is this the trick that President Trump has up his sleeve? 
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In the last few days, Trump has seemed way too sanguine about the outcome of the conference committee trying to hash out a budget resolution … especially since the best case (from Trump’s perspective) is a token amount of money that is tightly specified so that it’s not to be used to construct a “wall”.

Trump also has signaled that he won’t force another government shutdown and won’t declare a national emergency … and, indicated that he might be able to operate under existing “executive authority“.

So, what’s he got up his sleeve?

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In a prior post, we posed a gut-check question for Pelosi (and anybody else) who says that walls are immoral and don’t work:

Should the border wall between San Diego and Tijuana be torn down?

Well, late Friday afternoon when the media was busy with the Bezos and Virginia fiascos,  the San Diego – Tijuana story took a strange twist.

The DHS issued a press release headlined “DHS Issues Waiver to Expedite Secondary Fence Replacement Project in San Diego“.

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click to view the press release on the DHS site

This may be a signal of what’s to come, so let’s drill down on it…

Read the rest of this entry »

Will Amazon ditch Virginia?

February 8, 2019

Jeff Bezos may dictate how Virginia’s political mess gets cleaned up
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Ask yourself a simple question:

If this front page had appeared a couple of months ago, would Bezos (Amazon) have picked Northern Virginia for HQ2?

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I’d bet the under on that one.

Which begs a couple of questions….

Read the rest of this entry »

Virginia Dems: “Hoisted by their own petards”

February 7, 2019

And, some predictions re: the likely outcome.
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First, a translation of the classic phrase…

Contrary to common misunderstanding, the phrase does not mean getting lifted by one’s underwear … wedgie and all.

Rather, a ”petard” was an ancient bomb-like device used to blow open walls or gates.

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So, to be “hoisted by one’s own petard” is to be injured by the device that you intended to use to injure others.

Got it?

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OK, so how have Virginia Democrats hoisted themselves by their own petards?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Madam Speaker, thank you for the 1-week delay.”

February 6, 2019

Twas a bad night for the haters, following a very bad week.
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Imagine if Pelosi had resisted the theatrical power-play of delaying the SOTU address.

If she had kept to the traditional schedule, Trump wouldn’t have had these current events mega-talking points…

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump should declare OPIOIDS a National Emergency…

February 5, 2019

… and, include border barriers as one of the supporting actions.
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First, the current lay of the land…

Pelosi is still declaring “I’ve been clear: No money for walls. Period”.

So, odds of the conference committee reporting out legislation that includes wall funding remain slim to none.

President Trump has threatened to declare the porousness of the southern border a National Emergency … under which he would have broad executive authority that would include funding and building people-crossing barriers in strategic locations.

Dems have already threatened to take a border-focused National Emergency Declaration to the uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court  where it would likely be enjoined.

The journey to the Supreme Court would take time … with slightly better than 50-50 odds of reinstatement

So, what should Trump do?

Read the rest of this entry »

FYI: “National Emergencies” are neither rare nor short-lived.

February 4, 2019

The odds seem to be increasing that President Trump will declare a National Emergency and use his executive authority to fund and build sections of crossing barriers (aka, “walls”) along the southern border.

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So, I got curious and did a little digging into National Emergencies.

Here are some highlights…

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Virginia going to jump the abortion shark?

February 1, 2019

OK, New York  passed legislation legalizing abortions right up to the point of delivery.

Pro-lifers grimaced; pro-choicers rejoiced.

Not to be outdone, Virginia started the ball rolling to reduce restrictions on late-term abortions.

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a pediatric neurologist, explained the implications in a radio interview on WTOP.

Read the rest of this entry »

What percentage of Americans speak a language other than English at home?

January 31, 2019

More important: does it matter?
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Earlier this week, liberal newser Tom Brokaw set off a firestorm when he dared to say on MTP:

“Hispanic immigrants need to do a better job of assimilating to the United States and teaching their children to speak English.”

The backlash — from the left no less – was fast and brutal.

Brokaw was accused of being a racist (really?) and of being insensitive to immigrants’ culture.

So, Brokaw backpedaled from his statement and apologized

Yipes.

Let’s take a step back and look at some data.

According to a WaPo analysis of Census Dept. data, about 1 in 5 U.S. households don’t speak English at home.

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That’s up from 1 in 10 back in the 1980s.

A pretty steep increase that begs a bigger question: does it matter?

Read the rest of this entry »

Cutting to the chase: What exactly is Trump demanding?

January 30, 2019

As the Senate-Congressional conferees kick-off their negotiations, the MSM is still harping on the political-emotional hysteria and continuing to insinuate that Trump wants a Chinese-like concrete wall that runs the entire expanse of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Very misleading…

Let’s take a step back and put the “demand” in context:

The U.S.-Mexican border is about 2,000 miles long … 1,954 to be precise.

About 700 miles of walls and fencing are already in place (e.g, the wall separating San Diego from Tijuana)

  • About 400 miles of the barriers are designed to stop pedestrian traffic
  • About 300 miles is “vehicle fencing”  which blocks vehicles but allows people on foot to cross easily.

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The Sand Diego – Tijuana border

So, what exactly is Trump demanding?

Read the rest of this entry »

“Shutdown proved the value of government” … say, what?

January 29, 2019

A blurb in the NY Times caught my eye:

The great irony is that the shutdown only proved the indispensable value of the very government Trump so often expresses such disdain for.”

I hate to resort to facts, but ABC-and the Washington Post teamed up on a  projectable poll in which 18% of Americans said they had been inconvenienced by the shutdown.

Is 18% a big number or a little number?

To put that number in perspective, take the converse of the WaPo finding:

82% of Americans had not been inconvenienced by the shutdown.

That’s less than 1 in 5 … and, it includes the furloughed gov’t employees who have certainly been inconvenienced.

That doesn’t sound like a big deal.

But, the 35-day shutdown did surface a significant pain point: government managed air travel air travel…

Read the rest of this entry »

What the hell is he thinking?

January 28, 2019

And. what’s his next move?
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Gotta admit, I was surprised that the self-proclaimed tough man folded so quickly.

Driving around on Friday morning, I heard the the headlines:”Flights delayed at LaGuardia due to air controller absences.”

But, the story didn’t exactly match the severity of the news reader’s tonality as he read that there were 15 minute gate holds and some arriving flights were instructed to take a lap in holding patterns.

Geez, that sounds like a pretty normal day at any of the big airports.

When I got to my destination I was pleasantly out of media reach.

Then … BAM!

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No way to spin it … the man threw in the towel … proclaiming that he was going to trust Lucy (Nancy Pelosi) to tee up the ball again … and negotiate a wall-inclusive compromise in the next couple of weeks.

Are you kidding me?

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So, what’s really going to happen next?

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Dems put another precedent in place…

January 25, 2019

This one will backfire, too.
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For openers, I don’t give a hoot whether this (or any future) State of the Union address is held.

I can rarely stay glued to the TV when the Leader of the Free World drones on and on about what a fine job he’s doing … and present a laundry list of priorities which will never see the light of day.

Usually, I do enjoy the opposition party’s rebuttals … they’re always so awful that they’re entertaining … think: Jindal’s zombie-like pitch, Rubio’s futile reach for the water or Schumer-Pelosi’s  recent Ma & Pa Kettle response to Trump’s oval office pitch.

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If I were advising Trump, I’d advise him to mail in the SOTU … then go on a 4-week barnstorming tour of the Midwest & South. Why subject himself to the Dem frowns, eyerolls and catcalls?  That’ll happen now or in a couple of weeks,  So, bag it Donald.

That said, here’s what I find interesting about the current situation….

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Trust me, in 30 days we’ll do what we haven’t done in 30 years…

January 24, 2019

Will he fall for that disingenuous “promise” again?

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Today, the Senate is due to vote on Trump’s plan to open the government, secure the border and extend DACA  protections … and a Democratic bill to punt the issue (again): “open the government and we’ll negotiate (when we’ve stripped you of all your leverage).

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As Trump likes to say: “We’ll see what happens.”

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“I’m a security monitor”

January 23, 2019

An oft repeated  Dem talking point is that walls don’t work.

When they’re confronted with the success rates of the many walls securing borders around the world, they shift to “but there are more cost-effective methods.”

What are these more effective methods?

As best I can tell, it’s throwing human capital at the problem (think: more border agents) … or enhanced electronic surveillance  (think: drones).

Whenever you hear the latter argument, do what I do: recall the Lifelock commercial “Bank”.

When armed robbers rush into a bank, the scared customers implore the security guard to do something.

He informs them that he’s no a “security guard” … he’s simply a powerless “security monitor”.

View the clip to refresh your memory … then recall the imagery every time you hear the phrase “methods more efficient than walls”.

Click to play
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Why don’t Federal employees have rainy day funds?

January 22, 2019

Even Lady Gaga is getting into the act, using precious concert time to trash Trump (“holding Federal employees hostage”) & Pence (“worst example of Christianity”) … and to rep for the cash-strained furloughed government workers.

OK, I know that 80% of Americans don’t have $500 in reserve to cover unexpected expenses.

I understand that for part-time burger-flippers working for minimum wages with no benefits.

But, that’s not Federal government employees.

A 2017 CBO study revealed that, on average, civilian Federal government employees make civilian federal workers make 17 percent more in wages and benefits than similar workers in the private sector.

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Before you say; “Yeah, but these pay-deferred government employees are disproportionately from the lower end of the payscale.”

Let’s look closer at the data…

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Should the border wall between San Diego and Tijuana be torn down?

January 21, 2019

Here’s the gut-check question for Pelosi who says that walls are immoral and don’t work.
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Let’s start with the historical context…

In the 1980s, San Diego was known for its enticing climate … and its high crime rate.

Much of the crime was attributable to hombres (literally) coming across the border from Tijuana with bad intentions … not hard workers coming across for employment.

Then, in 1993, President Bill Clinton signed Operation Gatekeeper into law … and. in 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Secure Fences Act.  During his term, President Obama’s budgets provided ample funding to complete the work authorized by “Gatekeeper” and “Secure Fences”.

What were the implications for San Diego?

Because of Gatekeeper and Secure Fences, right now the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego has 12 miles of double fencing that stretches from the coast to the Otay Mesa Port of Entry.

After that, there are another 43 miles of “primary” fencing into and through the mountains in the eastern part of the county.  Source

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That was then.  This is now.

Now, the Dem mantra is “Walls are immoral and don’t work.”

Let’s dive into that argument…

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Shutdown: Brace for an onslaught of PFSD claims?

January 18, 2019

PFST  Post Furlough Stress Disorder
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Man, you can see this one coming from a mile away…

When the shutdown ends, I expect a flurry of TV lawyer ads soliciting furloughed government employees who suffer from PFSD.

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Further, I expect the basis PFSD claims to stem on a couple of alleged stressors…

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Gov’t Insider: “Agencies working more efficiently without them”

January 17, 2019

Let’s take a snapshot of the shutdown, starting with the demand side …

Seriously, has the partial government shutdown impacted you personally?

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Admittedly, my sample isn’t projectable, but — save for a couple of furloughed “non-essentials” — I have yet to run into anybody who has been impacted by the shutdown.

ABC-WaPo did run a projectable poll and found that 18% of Americans say they have been inconvenienced by the shutdown.

Take the converse of the WaPo findings:

82% of Americans have not been inconvenienced by the shutdown.

That’s less than 1 in 5 … and, it includes the furloughed gov’t employees who have certainly been inconvenienced.

Bottom line: From a demand perspective, the shutdown hasn’t been a particularly bad deal.

What about the supply side – the impact on government operations ?

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There’s a big difference between “lost wages” and “deferred pay”!

January 16, 2019

Among the aspects of the shutdown drama that make me want to scream are sympathy-soliciting headlines about furloughed government employees’ “lost wages”.

 

Here’s why that sets me off…

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Which is more “authentic”?

January 15, 2019

Ad agencies (and voters) harp on authenticity.

You know, presenting yourself as you really are … rather than exhibiting a  fake persona.

Let’s illustrate the concept…

Last week, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tried to jumpstart her presidential  ambitions (and erase the memories of her laughable DNA test).

At a climatic moment, she expressed her need for a cold one and started to chug a bee.

Authentic or not?

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Her nemesis – President Trump – scored it as inauthentic, noting that it would have seemed more authentic if she had been wearing her native headdress.

Boom!

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Speaking of President Trump…

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Shouldn’t we be getting tax credits?

January 14, 2019

I’ve gotten credits from Comcast when my cable service has gone out!
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Let’s set the stage:

On a macro level ….

1/4th of the Federal government’s “non-essential employees” have been furloughed for about 3 weeks.

Technical note: In this case, “furlough” means “paid vacation”, albeit with deferred pay for the remainder of the time off.

1/4th of the government’s “essential employees” have been reporting to work … and, had been getting paid until last Friday.  Now, their pay is deferred until the end of the shutdown.

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On a micro level, I loaded Turbo Tax over the weekend and did a first-cut at my 2018 taxes.

The combo of the macro and micro raised a logical question…

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