Archive for January, 2020

Why the Senate won’t be hearing additional witnesses…

January 31, 2020

OK, it’s coming down to whether or not to call witnesses.

My take: No way.

For many reasons, the GOP will stick together and, by majority vote, the Senate won’t call additional witnesses.

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Here’s my thinking….

(more…)

Reading minds to discern intentions…

January 30, 2020

OK, Trump delayed aid to Ukraine and encouraged Zelensky to look into the Biden’s million dollar fauz-job scheme.

But, did he delay aid it because (1) he didn’t think other countries — more dependent on peace in Ukraine — were paying their fair share, or (2) he thought that a VP taking a million dollar bribe — albeit disguised — was corrupt, or (3) he was shaking at the prospects of facing Sleepy Joe in the election and wanted to kneecap him, or (4)  some combination of the above.

The question boils down to how can you discern a person’s intentions?

An opinion piece by Sharyl Attkisson in The Hill titled “Democrats can read minds” crystalized something that’s been bothering me for awhile.

Remember when IG Horowitz outlined 17 (or more) mega-errors in the FBI FISA process.

Though all of the miscues were material and in the direction of securing warrants to surveil Trump campaigners, Horowitz asserted that he didn’t have testimonial or evidential proof (i.e. “smoking guns”) that the “mistakes” were the result of political bias.

Said differently, Horowitz refused to draw a conclusion re: motivation because “I can’t read minds”.

Fair enough.

The  FBI / FISA situation was reminiscent of Comey’s press conference re: Hillary’s transgressions…

(more…)

Re: witnesses … maybe Maxine Waters has the right idea.

January 29, 2020

Punt the ball back to the Congress!
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First, a couple of disclaimers:

  1. I’m neither a lawyer nor a Constitutional scholar.
  2. I think that Maxine Waters is a complete idiot.

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That said, Waters may have inadvertently provided some air cover for the “pivotal 4 moderate GOP Senators” … permitting them to stop wringing their hands … to vote no on witnesses … and to vote for acquittal.

Here’s my rationale…

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First, what’s the “Water’s Doctrine”?

Simply stated, she has stated publicly  that if Trump is acquitted, the Congress will just reload and issue new articles of impeachment.

Brilliant, Maxine.

So what should the Senate do?

Simply stated, the GOP should vote no on additional witnesses (the source of this week’s hand wringing)  … and vote to acquit based on the evidence provided by the Congress.

The underlined words are key.

Based on the evidence Congress turned over to the Senate … Trump  will be acquitted.

Everybody knows that.

If the Congressional majority really believes that more witnesses (Bolton, the Bidens, etc.) are case-breaker for them … then they should reconvene Schiff / Nadler.

Their “Impeachment Version 1.1” could start with the calling of Bolton and other witnesses.  Something they should have done in the first place.

Yeah, Trump will claim executive privilege — with a stronger hand since the issue has been thoroughly hashed out in the Senate “trial” … and Congress will have to appeal to the Courts.

That’s OK … in fact, it’s better than ok because it’s the proper process.

After the court rules, the Congress can proceed accordingly and — if they get the smoking gun that their frantically searching for — they can issue new, more specific articles of impeachment.

Note: Since impeachment is a political process, not a legal process, I don’t think that double jeopardy rules apply.  But again, I’m not a lawyer or Constitutional scholar.

Of course, that won’t happen.

They won’t find a smoking gun … and the clock will likely run out on them.

What’s the downside?

Trump is branded “an impeached president” for life (<= as declared by Pelosi) … but he can boast that he was acquitted.  Win-win.

The “do nothing” Congress can continue doing nothing except chasing its collective tails for the rest of its term … which, incidentally, I think is a good thing.

The Senate can get back to doing its “work of the people” … including, appointing more Federal judges.

Sounds like a perfect solution to me.

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So, how many Americans can ID Ukraine on a map … and, so what?

January 28, 2020

In a previous post, we asked loyal readers: Can you find Ukraine on a map?

If you didn’t take the test then, try sticking a pin in Ukraine now. (Prior post has the answer )

Our bet at the time: The vast majority of Americans can’t find Ukraine on a map … even those in the impeachment brigade.

Well, some political scientists did a survey on the question.

Here’s what they found…

(more…)

Cutting to the chase: the central impeachment questions.…

January 27, 2020

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Cutting to the chase, the Congressional Democrats impeached President Trump on 2 charges:

(1) Abuse of Power – for pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe & Hunter Biden, and

(2)  Obstruction of Congress – for withholding documents and blocking his aides’ testimony.

In a prior post,  we replayed Prof. Jonathan Turley dismantling the obstruction charge against President Trump.

The essence of his argument:

  • The President has every right to withhold testimony and documents citing “executive privilege”.
  • If Congress disputes the right to executive privilege, it can appeal to the courts.
  • If the courts deny the claim of executive privilege and the President still withholds, then — and only then — is he guilty of obstruction.

Congress did not appeal to the courts and it has no standalone  legal power to deny executive privilege and charge obstruction.

Case closed.

So, what about the other impeachment charge: abuse of power?

This is will emerge as the central issue in the trial, especially given the hornet’s nest poked by the Bolton book draft leaks.

So, let’s dig a little deeper …

(more…)

My favorite split screen … ever!

January 25, 2020

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Below is Adam Schiff seemingly directing our attention to the My Pillow ad on the left.

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My view: An appropriate end to the Dems dog-and-pony show.

It says it all.

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So, how’s the Dem’s impeachment gambit doing?

January 24, 2020

Here are the initial numbers from RCP’s poll-of-polls

Opposition to Trump’s removal is now a plurality … and the gap is widening

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Note that:

  • Support / opposition was a push when the Congressional Dems passed the impeachment articles
  • Opposition turned upward during Pelosi’s slow roll handing the impeachment articles over to the Senate
  • Support for removal turned down as soon as the Dem managers started talking.
  • The Present’s defense hasn’t been presented yet.

Perhaps McConnell should give the Dems even more time to pitch their case.

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Nobody that I know is watching…

January 24, 2020

… and, they’re not alone!

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Apparently, the folks who are watching are the ones who are alone.

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According to a New York Magazine recap….

  • TV ratings for the first two days of the trial, the six news networks covering Trump’s impeachment averaged a little over 11 million viewers combined.
  • Viewership dropped by about 20 percent on on the 2nd day, with a total of 8,858,000 million watching.

To put those numbers in perspective …

  • Approximately 125 million Americans voted in 2016 … so, fewer than 1 in 10 voters say they’re tuning in
  • The 2018 testimony of Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh drew an audience of 20.4 million … about twice the impeachment viewership.

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My key indicator of audience engagement are the head-to-head ratings for Hannity and Maddow.

  • Hannity drew 4,246,000 million viewers on Wednesday night.
  • During the same time slot,  Maddow drew 2.99 million viewers
  • Both Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson both beat Maddow’s ratings with 3.93 million and 3.73 million viewers. respectively.

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My take: Who cares? It’s a partisan political battle and positions are already hardened.  Who wants to watch a bunch of hypocritical politicos repetitiously bloviate for hours on end when the outcome is already determined?

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Nadler’s gift to President Trump…

January 24, 2020

Perhaps the most significant happening during the Dem impeachment managers’ presentations was Cong. Jerry Nadler admonishing Senators.

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During the initial session on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, Nadler said:

“I see a lot of senators voting for a cover-up, voting to deny witnesses, an absolutely indefensible vote, obviously a treacherous vote. A subversion of the Constitution, a vote against the United States.”

Obviously it was an attempt to shame (or bully) senators into crossing party lines and voting with the Dems.

But, the antic badly backfired…

(more…)

Reading minds to discern intentions…

January 23, 2020

An opinion piece by Sharyl Attkisson in The Hill titled “Democrats can read minds” crystalized something that’s been bothering me for awhile.

Remember when IG Horowitz outlined 17 (or more) mega-errors in the FBI FISA process.

Though all of the miscues were material and in the direction of securing warrants to surveil Trump campaigners, Horowitz asserted that he didn’t have testimonial or evidential proof (i.e. “smoking guns”) that the “mistakes” were the result of political bias.

Said differently, Horowitz refused to draw a conclusion re: motivation because “I can’t read minds”.

Fair enough.

The current FBI / FISA situation was reminiscent of Comey’s press conference re: Hillary’s transgressions…

(more…)

Here’s why Hunter Biden is a “material witness”…

January 22, 2020

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Yesterday, we replayed Prof. Jonathan Turley dismantling the obstruction charge against President Trump.

The essence of his argument:

  • The President has every right to withhold testimony and documents citing “executive privilege”.
  • If Congress disputes the right to executive privilege, it can appeal to the courts.
  • If the courts deny the claim of executive privilege and the President still withholds, then — and only then — is he guilty of obstruction.

Congress did not appeal to the courts and it has no standalone  legal power to deny executive privilege and charge obstruction.

Case closed.

So, what about the other impeachment charge: abuse of power?

This is where Hunter Biden becomes relevant….

(more…)

Memo to Chuckie Schumer…

January 21, 2020

McConnell has proposed 12-hour days, starting at 1 pm to accommodate Chief Justice Roberts.

Schumer immediately started squawking:

“McConnell’s resolution stipulates that key facts be delivered in the wee hours of the night simply because he doesn’t want the American people to hear them.”

Say, what?

Apparently Chuckie hasn’t heard that DVRs have been on the market since 1999.

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For Sen. Schumer’s benefit:

“DVR” stands for “Digital Video Recorder.” A DVR is basically a VCR that uses a hard drive instead of video tapes. It can be used to record, save, and play back television programs.

So, not to worry, Chuckie.

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P.S. I’ve wondered who besides me is watching in the afternoon.  Aren’t most people working then?

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Flashback: Turley shreds the obstruction charge…

January 21, 2020

Cutting to the chase, the Congressional Democrats impeached President Trump on 2 charges:

(1) Abuse of Power – for pressuring the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe & Hunter Biden, and

(2)  Obstruction of Congress – for withholding documents and blocking his aides’ testimony.

Let’s start with the obstruction charge.

Yes, Trump exercised “executive privilege” by blocking aides from testifying and by withholding documents.  No argument there.

But, the Schiff Team decided against going to the courts for rulings as to whether executive privilege was legal … or whether the testimony and documents should be delivered. Rather, they chose to start shouting “obstruction” and “abuse”..

But…

In his testimony during the impeachment “inquiry”, constitutional scholar Prof. Jonathan Turley told House Democrats that charging President Trump with  obstruction of justice for going to the courts over the subpoena of witnesses rather than surrendering executive privilege is itself an abuse of power.

His punch line: “It’s an abuse of Congressional power!”

click to view Turley’s 5-minute pitch
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Here are the highlights from Turley’s statement… (more…)

About the GAO ruling …

January 20, 2020

Gotta admit that I was initially suckered in by this one:

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I thought “Maybe they’ve got him with this one”.

That is. until the WSJ shredded the GAO opinion, arguing that:

  1. The GAO is not “independent”. It works at the behest of the legislative branch and is beholden to them.
  2. The GAO is not the authoritative word on legal issues. Its opinion are non-binding, are often over-ridden by the courts and are generally ignored.
  3. There are numerous examples  of GAO illegality opinions issued against the Obama administration.  They were routinely ignored by the Congress and the press.
  4. Regardless, the funds were released to the Ukrainians in the fiscal year for which they were authorized. Bottom line: no harm, no foul.

Here are the details….

(more…)

Why do students need a physical classroom?

January 16, 2020

An interesting op-ed in yesterday’s WSJ concludes that 2020 will be “the year the dam breaks for college education in America”.

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The author notes  “the rising cost and slowing returns of traditional schooling, coupled with advances in and the growing acceptance of online education

Among the specifics…

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66% want John Bolton to testify … say, what?

January 15, 2020

Dems are touting a recent Quinnipiac University National Poll  that found  66% of Americans want John Bolton to testify at the Senate’s impeachment trial.

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Hmmm.

Call me skeptical on that one.

Here’s why?

(more…)

Gallup: Conservatives regain plurality …

January 14, 2020

1.5 conservatives for every liberal.
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Gallup just published its 2019 Survey of Political Ideology.

The WSJ  headline:

“The share of Americans who say they are liberal declined in 2019.”

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That’s true, but I think it masks some of the survey’s bigger points…

(more…)

Fresh look: Is college worth the price?

January 13, 2020

New Fed study raises some red flags
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Everybody knows that folks with college degrees outearn those without them, right?

In fact, a recent study by St. Louis Fed researchers confirms that college graduates earn nearly twice as much as their peers without a college degree.

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But, the Fed researchers found that the degree-earners’ earnings aren’t translating at historic rates to higher wealth …

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Psych 101: The one thing that I remember…

January 10, 2020

Long ago, one of my students  observed that students  remember, at most,  one or two things from any course they take.

At the time, I would have bet the over on that one … at least for my courses!

Over time, I’ve concluded that he was more right than wrong and that I would have lost the bet.

Partial evidence: I sometimes self-test on what I remember from courses that I took long ago in college and grad school.

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Fast forward to today.

One of my friend’s daughters is graduating today with an degree in psychology.

That prompted me to think back to my undergrad Psychology 101 course.

Here’s what’s stored in my long-term memory…

(more…)

Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that the a contestant can win on one show?

January 9, 2020

Here’s the solution to yesterday’s question.

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Note: Refer back to yesterdays post if you need a refresher on the question and the Jeopardy game essentials

See Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that a contestant can win on one show?

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OK, let’s get started with the Jeopardy round’s gameboard:

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For starters, assume that our contestant first-buzzes and correctly answers all of the gameboard’s questions.

Each category has questions totaling $3,000 … and there are 6 categories … so the gameboard has an “displayed total value” of $18,000.

That’s not the most that a contestant can win in that round because it doesn’t consider the impact of the hidden Daily Double square.

(more…)

Jeopardy Math: What’s the most money that a contestant can win on one show?

January 8, 2020

You don’t need to be a Jeopardy fan to solve this math problem.  Try it!

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Last night, Jeopardy stated running a special tournament head-to-head matching former super-champs Ken Jennings (longest winning streak – 74 games), Brad Rutter (most winnings including special tournaments) and James Holzhauer.

James Holzhauer – a professional gambler –  won $2,714,416 in his 33 appearances. His $82,255 average daily winnings uber-eclipsed other Jeopardy contestants.

See our prior post How a “professional sports gambler” is disrupting Jeopardy for a recap of his strategy

I was chatting with a friend who is a Jeopardy fan and former insurance industry exec.  The question on the table was whether Jeopardy has an insurance policy to cover a runaway daily winner like Holzhauer.  If yes, what’s the insurance risk?

Analytically, that led to today’s math problem: What’s the most that a contestant can win on one show?

For reference, Holzhauer won more than $100,000 five times  … his best day ($131,127) is an all time Jeopardy record. A typical Jeopardy winner hauls in about $25,000 per show.

Today, I’ll set-up the problem.  Again, you don’t have to be a Jeopardy fan or know the rules.  I’ll tell you all that you need to know to solve the problem.

(more…)

If you can shovel coal, then you can learn to code … right?

January 7, 2020

Joe Biden has a remarkable ability to say really stupid stuff, doesn’t he?

His latest was telling a (small) crowd that thousands of jobs would be lost when he puts the brakes on the coal industry, but not to worry:

“If you can go down 300 or 3,000 feet in a mine, you can learn to code.  If you can shovel coal, you can program a computer.”

Say, what?

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Sleepy Joe seems to overlook a few basic points…

(more…)

A Star is Born!

January 6, 2020

OK, I’m a doting grandfather and may be getting ahead of myself, but…

We’re very proud of 7-year-old Maddie who performed this Christmas season in the Nutcracker with The Washington Ballet.

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Here’s the backstory in pictures…

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Shocker: Gallup says Obama, Trump Tie as Most Admired Man in 2019!

January 3, 2020

Who’s the man that Americans most admire?

According to Gallup — the most trusted polling organization — it’s a dead heat between former President Barack Obama and current President Donald Trump.

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Photo source: Gallup

Both are “most admired” by 18% of Americans.

Trump’s score increased by 5 percentage points from 2018.

Obama’s inched down by a point over that period.

Pundits say that Trump’s increase is mostly attributable to the continuing economic boom

I’ll take that…

Obama’s decline?

In 2018, Obama was “most admired” by 39% of Dems … that number dropped to 35% in 2019.

Hypotheses include:

  • Out of sight, out of mind … happens to all former presidents.
  • Way more “hope” than “change”
  • Not progressive enough for 2019 Dems.

Gallup didn’t offer a point-of-view as to whether impeachment boosted or dampened Trump’s scores.

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Happy New Year !

January 2, 2020

2019 summarized in 1 chart

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OK, call me a single issue voter if you want, but…

The S&P closed at 3,230.78.

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That puts the S&P up about 34% from the markets Xmas 2018 “correction” when the Fed tried to inch up interest rates.

Breaking that down…

It took the market about 7 months to rebound about 24% and get back to the pre-correction high.  (See the green dotted line above).

Then, the market tacked on another 10% in the back half of 2019.

And, the market still seems to have some steam for 2020.

I wouldn’t mind another 34%.

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