Michigan State University bans whiteboards … say, what?

February 24, 2017

This one gave me a false-positive flashback …

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First, the flashback…

When we moved into our new business school building a decade ago (yeah, it has been that long), I was assigned a new office.

It was at the end of a corridor (as far away from the academic action as they could put me) with a clear view of the building’s commercially-sized air conditioners and the Jesuit graveyard (no kidding).

One complete wall in the office was floor-to-ceiling with book shelves.

Since I only had 6 books (5 of them borrowed), I took out all but the top book shelf (which was suitable for displaying memorabilia) and installed a self-purchased whiteboard (a necessity, right?).

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In short order, I got visit from the Dean.

One of my colleagues had ratted me out for making an unauthorized alteration to my office.

Apparently, my whiteboard had violated some common law community standards.

I got off with a slap on the wrist (remember, Gtown is a Catholic school) … but still have occasional nightmares.

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OK, fast forward to today in Lansing, Michigan where whiteboards are now officially contraband.

Read the rest of this entry »

So, are you left-brained or right-brained?

February 23, 2017

Yesterday’s post prompted some questions re: what exactly is left-brained and right-brained thinking, so … 

For decades cognitive psychologists has characterized folks as being either left brain dominant  – logical – or right brain dominant – creative.

Browse the lists below and pick your dominant brain side – left or right.

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= = = = = 
So what? What to do?
= = = = =

Read the rest of this entry »

Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World …

February 22, 2017

In class, we touched on left-brain, right-brain thinking and I made reference to a book I’d read:  A whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the World.

As a hard core left-brainer, I found the title ominous ….

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Amazon link

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Here’s the crux of the book …

The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers.

But, the future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.

We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computerlike capabilities of the Information Age …

… to an economy and a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.

Why the shift?

Because any kind of work that be reduced to repeatable rules and defined processes can be automated or shipped off-shore – even so-called knowledge work

Survival in the Conceptual Age requires thinking skills utilizing the right-side of the brain.

Specifically, “high concept” involves the capacity to:

  • detect patterns and opportunities
  • create artistic and emotional beauty
  • craft a satisfying narrative

…. and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new and distinctive.

 

 

What’s required to to succeed in Conceptual Age?

Read the rest of this entry »

Nums: A world of battling algorithms

February 21, 2017

In my SBA course, we explored how human judgment and decision-making can often be outperformed by out-performed by algorithms, especially in oft-repeated data-rich situations which are largely rules-based.

In a cool 15 minute TED Talk (my all time favorite), tech entrepreneur Kevin Slavin tells how algorithms have reached across industries and into every day life.

A couple of lines caught my attention:

  • There are more than 2,000 physicists working on Wall Street developing operational algorithms
  • Massive scale speed trading is dependent on millisecond read & respond rates …
  • So, firms are physically literally locating right next to internet routing hubs to cut transmission times
  • And, of course, there isn’t time for human intervention and control
  • “We may be building whole worlds we don’t really understand, and can’t control.”

Worth listening to this pitch … a very engaging geek who may be onto something big.

click  to view video
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Follow on Twitter @KenHoma        >> Latest Posts

Where do you get your news?

February 20, 2017

Your answer says a lot about you.

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Before you look at the chart below, jot down the  channels/shows or web pages that you trust as your primary sources for news.

No cheating.

Done?

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OK, now check where your news sources fall along this ideological continuum crafted by Pew Research.

confirmation bias - media ideology
Your news sources align with your political ideology, right?

It’s a psychological dynamic called “confirmation bias” … soliciting and internalizing information that is consistent with one’s current beliefs.

Said differently, confirmation bias is a natural stress-reduction tendency to avoid or resist any information that is contrary to or inconsistent with one’s current thinking.

One of the major solidifiers of our current political polarization is the “echo chamber effect” … we all tend to consult sources and hang with people who share, reinforce and exaggerate our ideological leanings.

So what to do?

Read the rest of this entry »

Tell me again: When did Dems start thinking that Russia was a threat?

February 17, 2017

This recent brouhaha about General Flynn chatting up the Russian ambassador seems  to have stoked new flames for hair-on-fire Dems.

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Let’s go back a few years.

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Given Democrats reaction to recent events, this clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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Here’s more that’ll make make you scream …

Read the rest of this entry »

Democrats and the “wasted vote” phenomenon …

February 16, 2017

Two states and a handful of cities do not a country make.

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Ran across an interesting article in the Boston Globe titled “The Democrats’ demographic dilemma.”

The punch line of the article:

Democrats have carried the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, an unprecedented run.

But, Democrats are confronted by the “wasted vote phenomenon”.

They roll up huge margins in blue enclaves, but political polarization and demographic sorting control the electoral map.

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Here are a few highlight snippets from the article …

Read the rest of this entry »

Another Chicago flashback …

February 15, 2017

Long ago, I was community organized.

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The sour-grape Dems who have taken to mass-disrupting GOP town halls brought some memories out of long-term storage …

Way back in the 70s, we moved to Chicago (for a 2nd time).

We bought a cute little ranch that backed up to a large vacant parcel of land.

The real estate agent said that it was wetlands that couldn’t ever be developed.

If you can’t believe your real estate agent, who can you trust, right?

Well, as soon as the moving trucks pulled out, a couple of our next door neighbors came walking up the drive.

Friendly neighborhood, I thought.

But, their first words: “What do you think of the apartments that are going to be built on the vacant parcel – starting 10 fee from our lot lines?”

Uh-oh. Panic city.

Got an invite to meet more neighbors at a “stop the apartments” get together.

We went, and got to meet Father Greg – a young Catholic priest who said he was a community organizer and could help us stand up to the town chieftains and the developer.

Sounded good to me.

His prescription: start barging into town meetings, making a big ruckus.

“Bring babies if you have any … bring ‘em hungry and, if necessary, pinch them – not to hurt them, but  to make them cry.”

He told us that those were some of the “Rules” of community organizing.

At the time, I didn’t think to ask: “What Rules?”

But, now I know …

Father Greg  wasn’t preaching from the Good Book, but right out of  Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”.

 

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As a public service, just in case you’re unfamiliar with Alinsky’s rules, here’s a short-form version that’ll help you understand the Dems strategy….

Read the rest of this entry »

Constitution says “All men are created equal, not just Americans” … say, what?

February 14, 2017

Liberal talking point has a few holes …

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A near-viral liberal assertion these days is that the Constitution protects all people, not just Americans.

Sorry, Charlie … that’s just not true.

For openers, glance at the Preamble to the Constitution

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Note that it says “We the people of the United States  … not “We the people from everywhere around the globe”

And it says “… to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” … not “… to anybody from anywhere on the planet who may sneak across our borders.”

Seems like a clear (and narrow) definition to me.

Some may not like that proclamation, but that’s the way it reads, folks.

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OK, let’s give the libs some slack …

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley…

February 13, 2017

Kellyanne’s gaffe brought back memories of Boss Daley.

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Big bruhaha last week when Kellyanne Conway — the first woman to ever run a successful Presidential campaign – was asked in an interview:

“So, what do you think of Nordstrom dropping Ivanka’s Trump’s line of fashions?”

“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” Ms. Conway said in an interview with Fox News, speaking from the White House briefing room.

“I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”

Oops.

Double oops in this time of political correctness and diminished senses-of-humor.

According to the NY Times: “Legal experts said Ms. Conway might have violated a federal ethics rule against endorsing products or promoting an associate’s financial interests.”

Certainly an ill-advised comment, but strikes me as a molehill being elevated to mountain status.

 

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The ruckus brought back memories of my days living in Chicago…

Read the rest of this entry »

In praise of math, logic, and Latin … say, what?

February 10, 2017

Classical educators argued that these disciplines are the building blocks of reasoning, problem-solving and critical thinking.

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The courses that I teach contain a heavy dose of problem-solving skills.

Early on, I assert my belief that that problem-solving skills can be taught – and, more importantly, learned – and set about to prove the point.

 

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I’ve been doing some summer reading on the topic of reasoning & problem-solving and learned:

“For twenty-six hundred years many philosophers and educators have been confident that reasoning could be taught.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Why are tech companies hyperventilating over Trump’s travel ban?

February 9, 2017

Are they drawing that much intellectual capital and talent from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen?

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According to ABC News: “Silicon Valley’s biggest companies are taking a strong stand against President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying high tech needs immigrants’ creativity and energy to stay competitive.”

“About 58 percent of the engineers and other high-skill employees in Silicon Valley were born outside the U.S.”

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OK, I get that tech companies need foreign talent …

But, silly me, I thought they were coming from places like India, China, Russia, Korea.

Nope.

We’re talking about some of the science centers of the world: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.

Really?

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All of which begs another question.

Are the schools and technical training that much better in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen than they are in the U.S.?

If that’s the case, why aren’t the tech companies ‘all in’ to fixing the American education system.

Strikes me that would be a better use of tech company time & money than rallying to keep a constant flow coming from 7 Obama-identified terrorist hotspots.

This one really baffles me.

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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

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Tell me again why Duncan was good, but charter-advocate DeVos is bad …

February 8, 2017

Math scores dropped since 2009 … U.S. now trails 39 countries.

Strikes me that Duncan is an easy act for DeVos to follow as Education Secretary..

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

Read the rest of this entry »

Digital amnesia: Is Google dulling your memory?

February 7, 2017

Don’t memorize anything that you can lookup (<=bad advice!)

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First, some background …

The tests I give my students always include some questions that can reasonably be tagged “memorization”.

Some students are repulsed by them them and shout the cultural refrain: “Don’t memorize anything that you can look up.”

The apparent thinking: You’ve only got a limited amount of space in your brain, so don’t clog it with an overload of information … only store the stuff you can’t look-up.

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What’s wrong with that argument?

Read the rest of this entry »

As if forgetting stuff wasn’t bad enough …

February 6, 2017

Study: Half of people “remember” events that never happened

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According to a recent study, once a person hears that a fictional event happened, there’s a 50/50 chance that they will believe that it took place and start to embellish it with details, even if the imaginary event is of a personal nature.

For example, researchers “primed” subjects with fake (but relatively harmless) memories, such as taking a childhood hot-air balloon ride or pulling a prank on a friend.

Researchers intimated that the imaginary events  were real.

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And, the result …

Read the rest of this entry »

Should you put your extracurricular activities and interests on your resume?

February 3, 2017

More than you think, they may impact your chances of getting an interview.

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Interesting study reported in HBR

The study investigated whether applicants got invited to interview at highly prestigious law firms (though the findings are probably generalizable to other top-notch professional firms).

Here’s the drill:

Imagine four applicants, all of whom attend the same, selective second-tier law school.

They all have phenomenal grade point averages, are on law review, and have identical, highly relevant work experiences.

The only differences are whether they are male or female and if their extracurricular activities suggest they come from a higher-class or lower-class background.

Who gets invited to interview?

More specifically, the researchers used a technique — known as the resume audit method — randomly assigning different items to the resumes and sending applications to real employers to see how they affect the probability of being called back for a job interview.

All applicants were from 2nd tier schools (where top firms don’t typically do on campus interviewing).

All educational, academic, and work-related achievements were identical between the fictitious candidates.

To test gender effects, the applicants were first-named James or Julia.

To “signal” social status, last names were either prestigious sounding “Cabot” or more common “Clark” … and commonly used and and often required portions of resumes were varied: awards and extracurricular activities:

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The experiment confirmed some expectations, but there were also surprises …

Read the rest of this entry »

Trump: Inspired by the 1972 Cuban Olympic boxing team?

February 2, 2017

The AP calls it “unsettling” …   “governing-by-upheaval” to recast the role of government.

A historian says that Trump’s style is a mixture:  “a whiff of Reaganism”  with “plays reminiscent of Richard Nixon”,

My take: President Trump’s 1st week in office calls for a reprise of a HomaFiles post from August 2015 … slightly ahead of its time !

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Many of you may be too young to have witnessed and remember, but…

In the 1972 Olympics, the polished U.S. boxing team was predicted to sweep the competition.

But, something happened on the way to the medals’ platform that shocked the sporting world.

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Here’s the story and why Trump’s first days in office jogged my memory of the 1972 Olympics …

Read the rest of this entry »

Reuters: Plurality favors the travel ban …

February 1, 2017

But, you have to read beneath the headline !

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Reuters issued one of the 1st polls on attitudes towards Trump’s travel ban on people from President Obama’s list of 7 terrorist hotspots: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen.

The headline:

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Of course, we hate to get picky, but if you add together “make you safer” and “keep you safe”, the headline would read “majority think travel plan keeps America safe (or safer)”

But, that doesn’t fit the narrative, I guess.

Here’s the bigger story (that should have been in the headline).

Read the rest of this entry »

Want higher exam grades?

January 31, 2017

Well, then quit browsing the Internet during class.

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A recent study by psychology researchers at Michigan State University investigated students’ actual Internet usage during classes.

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The students agreed to have their in-class browsing activity monitored .

The researchers then matched the browsing activity with the students’ self-reported browsing behavior, their overall academic readiness (think: SAT / ACT scores), their self-reported motivation and interest in the class, and their performance on the course’s final exam.

Here’s what the researchers discovered …

Read the rest of this entry »

Now, government employees are walking in coal miners’ shoes …

January 30, 2017

“Retrain and relocate” sounds so reasonable … unless you’re the one needing to retrain & relocate.
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When the Obama administration declared war on coal, and Hillary famously declared “we’re going to put a lot of coal companies out of business and a lot of coal miners out of work” … most government employees whopped and hollered in delight.

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Their advice: Shake it off, coal miners.

Go back to school and get trained as a java programmer (even if that’s a quantum leap from your skills, education and interests … and as natural as learning to speak Swahili).

Move to thriving locales like Austin or Palo Alto (even if it means leaving 3 generations of family and friends behind).

Suck it up and turn the page, bro.

You’ve got to embrace change and adapt to the changing times (even if the change is artificially induced by government know-it-alls)

Well, it looks like the worm has turned …

Read the rest of this entry »

Is financial stress making Americans dumber?

January 27, 2017

Connecting some research “dots” suggests that may be the case.

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A recent Bankrate.com survey says that 40% of respondents or their immediate family ran into a major unexpected expense last year.

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That’s a problem since most Americans (63%) don’t have enough budget-cushion or savings to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense (think, medical bill, house or car repair).

According to the poll, only 37% said they would be able to take the money directly from savings; the rest said they would try to cut expenses (24%), use their credit cards (15%) or borrow money from friends & family (15%). About 1 in 10 had no idea what they’d do.

Predictably, those with higher incomes were most likely to say they would be able to tap savings for emergencies or divert some discretionary spending.

75% of people in households making less than $50,000 a year and 2/3s of those making between $50,000 and $100,000 would have difficulty coming up with $1,000 to cover an unexpected bill.

Even for the wealthiest 20% — households making more than $100,000 a year — more than 1 in 3 say they would have  some difficulty coming up with $1,000. Source

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Obviously, the threat of a large, unexpected expense is emotionally daunting to most Americans.

“It definitely adds stress to everyday life. It hangs over you.”

To make matters worse, there is some evidence that the financial stress may impair “cognitive functioning” – that is, dent a person’s IQ.

Read the rest of this entry »

In total, how much do Americans pay in taxes? For what? To whom?.

January 26, 2017

Since tax reform is on the front burner, it’s time for some tax facts.

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Americans pay a tad over $5 trillion in taxes to the Feds, States and Local Governments.

Technical note: In government parlance, the taxes are called “revenue”.

By taxing authority

Drilling down, the $5 trillion is split roughly 50%-30%-20% to the Feds, States and Locals, respectively

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By type of tax

Roughly 1/3 of the $5 trillion is income taxes individual and corporate)

about 1/4 is ad valorem taxes (think sales and property taxes)

just under 1/5 are social insurance (i.e. Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid)

… slightly more than 1/5 are fees and charges (think tolls, business licenses)

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Income taxes

Roughly 1/3 of the $5 trillion – about $1.8 trillion — is income taxes

…  83.4% are individual income taxes; only 16.6% are corporate income taxes

… about 80% of income taxes go to the Feds; around 20% goes to the States & Locals

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Ad-valorem taxes

Roughly 1/4 of the $5 trillion in total taxes paid – about $1.2 trillion – is ad-valorem taxes – taxes paid based on the value of something bought or owned.

…  about 40% of ad-valorem taxes are Local property taxes

…  about 1/3 are Sales Taxes …  going mostly to the States

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Social Insurance

Roughly 1/5 of the $5 trillion in total taxes paid – about $961 billion – is social insurance – with about 80% going to the Feds

…  roughly 60% of the social insurance payments going to the Feds is for Social Security

…  almost 1/4 of the social insurance payments going to the Feds is for Medicare.

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Pulling it all together Ken’s Rosetta Stone of Taxes

All the details — now much? to whom? for what?

Click for a PDF: Ken’s Rosetta Stone of Taxes

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PDF          Data Source

>> Latest Posts

To bring back jobs, don’t cut the the corporate tax rate …

January 25, 2017

Rather, double the corporate tax deduction for workers’ wages earned the U.S. workers.

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Let’s start with an interesting analysis from Nate Silver’s  535.com titled Manufacturing Jobs Are Never Coming Back

“It’s understandable that voters were angry about trade. The U.S. has lost more than 4.5 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA took effect in 1994. And, there’s mounting evidence that U.S. trade policy, particularly with China, has caused lasting harm to many American workers.”

“Manufacturing in particular embodies something that seems to be disappearing in today’s economy: jobs with decent pay and benefits available to workers without a college degree are vanishing. The average factory worker earns more than $25 an hour before overtime; the typical retail worker makes less than $18 an hour.”

“In 1994 there were 3.5 million more Americans working in manufacturing than in retail. Today, those numbers have almost exactly reversed, and the gap is widening. More than 80 percent of all private jobs are now in the service sector.”

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How can that be?  Aren’t we hearing a lot about “re-shoring” and foreign capital investing in U.S. based manufacturing plants?

Read the rest of this entry »

Isn’t it time to dust off the Simpson-Bowles Report ?

January 24, 2017

Now that tax reform and spending “rationalization” are on the front-burner, I wonder why there has been nary a mention of old Simpson-Bowles Report.

You may remember that former President Obama commissioned Simpson, Bowles and a blue-ribbon committee to recommend ways to cut the deficit  … and the skyrocketing national debt.

The report took shots at some sacred cows like capping home mortgage deductions and taxing employer-paid healthcare.

But, S-B had the gall to suggest pulling back some entitlements so Obama deep-sixed the report.

Maybe DJT should try to locate a copy.

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Maybe it’s time to re-visit the Simpson-Bowles Report .

Here are some of the highlights …

Read the rest of this entry »

Should a family of 5 have to pay more at a restaurant than a family of 3?

January 23, 2017

The answer is obvious, right?

They take up more seats, require more server time, and eat more food.

Why do I ask?

As the GOP moves to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare, a constant refrain is ‘everybody agrees that two popular parts of ObamaCare should be saved: insurability for pre-existing conditions and allowable coverage of ‘adult- children’ on their parents’ policies until they are 26”.

I agree that there needs to be a way to cover pre-existing conditions, but … except for special needs situations, I respectfully disagree re: adult-children.

First, the term “adult-children” gives me the creeps. But, that’s beside the point.

More on point, I don’t care if insurance companies have to carry 26 year olds on their parents’ policies, but I don’t understand why they should “fly free” and that you & I should have to pay for it … not the adult-children’s parents.

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Let me explain …

Now, practically all employer-sponsored  health insurance plans charge premiums in tiers: employee only, employee plus spouse, employee plus children, and employee plus spouse and children. Note: it doesn’t matter if the employee has 1 child or a dozen children … same premium.

Say what?

For example, the United Healthcare plan through Georgetown — which is probably pretty typical — charges:

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Let’s dive a little deeper into those numbers …

Read the rest of this entry »

A Inauguration Day irony …

January 20, 2017

Comey probably did cost the Dems the White House …

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Here’s something for Dems to ponder on inauguration day.

My theory of the case from the get-go was that

(1) Hillary did break the law by grossly (and intentionally) mishandling classified information

(2) There was both harm & foul … i.e. foreign agents hacked the info.

(3) Comey brushed past the intent  (which wasn’t really required for criminality) and the harm of the foul … because he didn’t want to go down in history as the brutish guy who stopped the first woman from being elected president.

 

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Here’s the irony for the Dems ….

Read the rest of this entry »

The limits of data analytics …

January 19, 2017

Team Clinton worshipped at the altar and got burned.

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Lots of post-election articles about how the Clinton campaign got fixated on their data-rich electorate models, using them to allocate ad dollars, deploy field workers and schedule “market visits” by Hillary and her surrogates.

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What Team Clinton seemed to have forgotten is the old Reagan adage: trust but verify.

The data models – which worked near-flawlessly for Obama – took stage as “shiny objects” that led the Clinton campaign astray.

Politico reported a case study that  illustrated the point …

Read the rest of this entry »

Departing AG Lynch’s opens investigation of Comey & the FBI …

January 18, 2017

Her action might prompt re-opening of the Clinton server investigation.

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Departing AG Lynch lobbed a clock-winding-down grenade … unleashing the DOJ’s inspector general to review “broad allegations of misconduct involving FBI Director James B. Comey and how he handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices.”

Center stage are Comey’s July 5 non-sequiturial press conference (lots of evidence, but issue a stay-out-of-jail free card anyway), his re-opening of the case when classified emails were spotted on Anthony Weiner’s laptop and Comey’s last minute pronouncement for every to fuggitaboutit.

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There are a couple of ways that Dem-loyal Lynch’s ploy might backfire.

First, beyond Comey, the IG said that he’ll be investigating “whether Peter Kadzik, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign” and whether “FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the case since his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for a Virginia Senate seat and took money from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a fierce Clinton ally.”

Said differently, the IG is likely to find more influence peddling and tampering from the Clinton side than from the Trump side.

Second, while Lynch has narrow-scoped the investigation to exclude her not-so-secret tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, an in-coming AG might broaden the scope to dig into the “event” that forced Lynch to punt the ball to Comey … setting the stage for his press conference and letters.

Her improprieties certainly contributed to the mess.

Third, and most important, while the IG said that he’s not going to relitigate the findings in the Clinton case, the IG review is likely to rip off some scabs at the FBI and prompt a re-look at the case.

And, there are a couple of plausible motivators for re-opening Clinton’s file …

Read the rest of this entry »

Obama’s CIA chief says that Trump is naive about Russia …

January 17, 2017

Wonder if the guy watched the 2012 Presidential debates when Obama mocked Romney and declared the cold war to be over …

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 On the Sunday talk shows, outgoing CIA Director John Brennan had some sharp criticism and warnings for President-elect Trump.

Brennan said  that Trump is a bit naive and doesn’t have a “full understanding” of Russia’s power and the threat to the world posed by Russia’s aggressive actions.

Brennan failed to mention that — up to a couple of months ago — President Obama didn’t consider Russia to be much of a threat.

I wish the shows’ anchors had asked Brennan if he remembered the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

The clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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Here’s more that’ll should make you scream …

Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe we’re just not that smart …

January 13, 2017

Yesterday, we reported that the U.S. is, on average, #40 in the world in mathematics.

Usual punditry is that schools are bad … blame it on the teachers.

But, I wondered: is it a bad production process (the schools) … or could it be the raw material going into the process (i.e. innate brain power).

So, the question of the day: how does the U.S. rank on IQ versus other countries?

Read the rest of this entry »

Ouch: U.S. math scores continue to drop

January 12, 2017

U.S. now trails 39 countries …

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The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released its 2015 survey results for math “literacy” … and, the results aren’t pretty.

The average for 15-year-old U.S. students slipped to 470 on the PISA scale … down about 3.5% from 2009 … ranking the U.S. #40 among developed nations (see list at end of this post) … 20 points lower than the average of the 35 OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

The scores differential versus the OECD countries is roughly equal for the average, 25th percentile and 90th percentile … refuting claims that “our” best are head-to-head competitive with the the rest of the world’s best.

 

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Digging a bit deeper into the numbers ….

Read the rest of this entry »

There are 3 Americas (not 2) … thanks to Obamacare.

January 11, 2017

ObamaCare is front & center on the legislative agenda again, so …

Last week, we reported that — according to Gallup — ObamaCare is under water by 7 points (51% to 44%) … and that 29% think their families have been hurt by ObamaCare versus 18% who think that their families have been helped).

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In other words, the disapproval is grounded in the program’s fundamentals.

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Cutting to the chase, an article in the WSJ quoted David Cutler, a Harvard health-care economist:

Obamacare may be “a story of three Americas.”

One group, the rich, can afford health care easily.

The poor can access public assistance.

But for lower middle- to middle-income Americans, “the income struggles and the health-care struggles together are a really potent issue.”

No kidding, Dr. Cutler …

HomaFiles was all over this one back in June:

Remember how healthcare costs were going to drop by $2,500 for every family?

We concluded that in 2016, employees will pay $11,000 out-of-pocket … up $2,500 since 2012.

“Employees” … you know the working class … the middle class.

Here’s the essence of our original post …. worth re-reading …. glad others are catching up to it.

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Milliman – a well-regarded actuarial consulting” firm – has published an annual recap of healthcare spending since 2001.

The Milliman Medical Index tracks the total costs of providing health care to an average family of four covered by an employer-sponsored “preferred provider plan” … that’s about 155 million employees and their dependents.

The total includes the health insurance premiums paid by both the employer and the employee, as well as the actual expenditures for health care paid by the insurance plan and out of pocket by the insured family.

The big news: In 2016, the average healthcare costs for a family of 4 surpassed $25,000 for the first time … the $25,826 is triple the cost to provide health care for the same family in 2001 … and up about $5,000 since 2012.

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The bad(est) news is the increased proportion of the healthcare costs being shouldered by individual employees …

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Flash: Presidential campaigns were hacked by the Chinese.

January 10, 2017

More precisely, I should have said “flashback” to 2008.

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Lots of attention on the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC and Clinton campaign.

Less attention on the Intelligence Community’s assessment that the RNC was hacked, too.

More surprising, there have been no references by Intelligence Agencies or the MSM to China’s hacking of the 2008 Presidential campaigns.

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So, let’s take a stroll down memory lane …

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Intel Report: Like a typical Chinese meal …

January 9, 2017

Fortune cookie was the best part … and I’m hungry again.

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Over the weekend, we posted : Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

Now that the dust has settled, I’m getting that “where’s the beef feeling”?

Best I can do is:

Key points: Russians were more #NeverHillary than pro-Trump … no evidence that the election was impacted …  none of the purloined emails were fakes or forgeries … Russians held back some of the juicier information-bombs to drop during Clinton’s expected presidency (and, they still have those morsels stockpiled).

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click to view report

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My questions:

1) How were the sleuths able to able to find cyber-prints in this case but came up empty on the Clinton server (though the FBI reported that there was a high probability the enemy agents hacked that server, too)?

2) Wasn’t there any evidence of other foreign forces hacking into the same information bases, say the Chinese or North Koreans? Or, did our spies succumb to “fixation bias” (with a little “confirmation bias” thrown in) and only looked at a Russian connection? Maybe the problem is bigger and broader than reported.

By the way, what’s up with the Feds failing to haul in the suspect computers & servers and analyzing them for clues and evidence? Geez, on every episode of American Greed, the cops haul off the perp’s computer …

3) What info are the Russians holding in storage, waiting for an opportune time to cause some real havoc? Hmm. Maybe they have some of the classified material that was held safe (?) on Clinton’s and Weiner’s computers. Isn’t anybody worried about that?

Those are the questions that I’d like to see answered.

I’m not holding my breath …

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Though it was generally superficial and disappointing, I did ID one useful part of the report (seriously) …

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Intel Report on Russian hacking … my take.

January 7, 2017

Some interesting assertions … that raise some interesting questions.

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Here’s my take:

First, the non-classified report isn’t very compelling.

For openers, the 25-page report isn’t really 25 pages of report … it has a 3-page summary of a 5-page report … with 17 pages of filler on the front and back (the media “annex”).

Hope my students don’t get a whiff of that report-writing strategy.

And, the report contains mostly top-line assertions with virtually no new news or supporting data.

That’s understandable since the evidence is classified and can’t be revealed to us minions.

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click to view report

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Despite the above, I stipulate that the Russians hacked the DNC and John Podesta’s emails … and fed the info to WikiLeaks and RT media.

Here’s my take on the key points (and the questions that the report leaves unanswered):

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Reports: “All 17 intelligence agencies agree that Russia hacked Podesta and the DNC”

January 6, 2017

Am I the only one wondering why there are 17 spy agencies?

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I’ve been amused at the way the phrase slides off the tongues of the news readers: “All 17 intelligence agencies…”

Certainly aroused my curiosity.

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Sure enough, the U.S. intelligence “community” is officially the composite of 17 overt organizations (more on them later) … but, according to a Washington Post investigation, they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

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Among WaPo’s findings:

  • Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
  • An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
  • In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
  • Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
  • Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

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Back on point, here’s a list of the 17 agencies that make up the U.S. spy network …

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“Most Americans support ObamaCare” … say, what?

January 5, 2017

18% say the law has helped their families; 29% say it has hurt them

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ObamaCare is front-and-center again as the GOP controlled Congress starts the process of repealing and replacing.

A repeated Dem talking point yesterday was how the majority of Americans support ObamaCare.

Sorry, Charlie, but the data doesn’t seem to support the claim.

Gallup has been tracking public sentiment towards ObamaCare for the past couple of years.

Bottom line:

More people have disapproved of ObamaCare since its inception … for most of the past 4 years, a majority has disapproved … most recently, the there has been a 7 point gap – 51% disapproving to 44% approving.

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Why the majority disapproval ?

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What if Trump governs like Obama?

January 4, 2017

President Obama seems determined to leave office ungracefully … spending his lame duck time igniting a steam of transitional stink bombs to welcome the President-elect.

Or, as pundits like to say (when somebody other than Obama is doing it): “taking unprecedented unilateral action”.

Those who are gleefully cheering him on, should keep in mind that what goes around, comes around.

Some day, Trump may be in a lame duck period with a Dem president-elect ready to launch.

When he starts complicating life for the president-to-come, today’s cheer squad will have no legitimacy to whine.

Obama’s recent power plays reminded me of a  “must read” opinion piece in the Washington Post archives.

The article was penned by left-leaning GWU law professor Jonathan Turley

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Turley has long been warning that Dems may think it is clever and appropriate when Obama circumvents the Congress and courts to implement his partisan policies, but that they should be forewarned that what goes around, come around.

Specifically, he says:

Democrats have supported President Obama’s claims of unchecked authority in a variety of areas.

Obama has been particularly aggressive in his unilateral actions.

From health care to immigration to the environment, he has set out to order changes long refused by Congress.

Thrilled by those changes, supporters have ignored the obvious danger that they could be planting a deeply unfortunate precedent if the next president proves to be a Cruz or Trump rather than a Clinton.

While the policies may not carry over to the next president, the powers will.

The Obama model will be attractive to successors who, although they may have a different agenda, have the same appetite for unilateral decisions.

Here are some specifics that he cites:

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They didn’t get Michelle O’s memo on hopelessness …

January 3, 2017

Majority of Americans expect 2017 to be better than 2016.

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FLOTUS Michelle Obama chatted with slimmed-down Oprah recently, lauding her hubbies accomplishments (and fretting that the era of hope & change is ending, replaced by pervasive (and justified) melancholy.

She asserted that her husband had succeeded in keeping his campaign promise of fostering hope.

And, she opined: “The U.S. is entering a time of hopelessness  We are feeling what not having hope feels like. We can feel the difference now.”

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Worry not, Michelle.

Polling firm GFK conducted a survey for the AP that asked people how 2016 was for them personally and what their expectations are for 2017.

Here’s what they found …

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Merry Christmas … 45 Lessons in Life

December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and HAPPY NEW YEAR  to all !

This short video was sent to me by a friend a couple of years ago

It really resonated with me, so I like to share it at Christmas time.

 … back with you after the New Year

* * * * *

       click picture  to launch ( best with audio on)
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#HomaFiles

Follow on Twitter @KenHoma            >> Latest Posts

Have business gurus (and business schools) lost touch?

December 23, 2016

Some pillars of management theory are weakening.

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Interesting article in The Economist asserts that “business gurus have lost touch with the world they seek to rule” and that “management theory is ripe for a reformation, especially at Business schools — the cathedrals of capitalism.”

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More specifically, the author argues that: “Management theories are organized around four basic ideas, repeated ad nauseam in every business book you read or business conference you attend, that bear almost no relation to reality.”

Here are some snippets on those four disputable basic ideas …

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About the fake news flap …

December 22, 2016

 Maybe folks should consider the source.

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Big frenzy these days about fake news.

Though Facebook CEO Zuckerberg says that less than 1% of news postings are fake, the company is setting up a special truth-checking squad.

I find that interesting in a couple of respects.

First, getting one’s news via Facebook.

Really?

I find that scary.

But, not surprising since The WaPo reports a  recent poll that “more than one in 10 young adults (ages 18-29) say they rely on “The Daily Show” or its now-departed spinoff, “The Colbert Report” for news about what’s going on in the world.”

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Pew Research reports similar findings … right around 10%.

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This raises as obvious questions …

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Where do you get your news?

December 21, 2016

Your answer says a lot about you.

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Before you look at the chart below, jot down the 3 or 4 web pages or channels/shows that you trust as your primary sources for news.

No cheating.

Done?

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OK, now check where your news sources fall along this ideological continuum crafted by Pew Research.

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Your news sources align with your political ideology, right?

It’s a psychological dynamic called “confirmation bias” … soliciting and internalizing information that is consistent with one’s current beliefs.

Said differently, confirmation bias is a natural stress-reduction tendency to avoid or resist any information that is contrary to or inconsistent with one’s current thinking.

One of the major solidifiers of our current political polarization is the “echo chamber effect” … we all tend to consult sources and hang with people who share, reinforce and exaggerate our ideological leanings.

So what to do?

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Obama the job creator … say, what?

December 20, 2016

According to his economists, the trillion dollar stimulus program was a bust!

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Lots of MSM headlines these days about the strong economy that Obama is handing Trump … with a strong suggestion that Trump will have a hard time matching Obama’s stellar performance as a job creator.

Really?

On the plus side, the reported unemployment rate has dropped from the financial crisis highs.

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For today, we’ll push aside the facts that (a) American’s who have been economically crushed largely voted the Dems out of office; and (2) the labor force participation rate has dropped precipitously – giving the unemployment rate a faux boost.

But, let’s dig a little deeper into the numbers … using the Administration’s own analyses.

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About the alleged Russian email hack …

December 19, 2016

Some key points are being overlooked.

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Fueled by a “secret CIA assessment”, election-deniers are having a field day blaming Queen Hillary’s loss on the Russians.

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Beyond the hypocrisy of their post-debate-3 hyperventilation over Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results if they seemed tainted, the deniers seem to be overlooking a couple of key points.

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Maybe Hillary should run for governor of California … here’s why.

December 16, 2016

She landslided California, but lost the combined popular vote in the other 49 states (& DC).

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Dems are still carping that Trump’s ascendency is illegitimate since Hillary won the popular vote.

And, everybody knows that Hillary won big in California.

But, I was a bit surprised by how big her California win was … and its implications.

Bottom line: Clinton won the national popular vote by 2.8 million votes … buoyed by a 4.3 million edge in California.

Think about that for a second.

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Yes, Clinton won California big time … but, Trump won the combined popular vote  of the other 49 states (& DC)

The MSM repeatedly observes that Trump followers drag their knuckles … and that Hillary dominated among the intelligensia.

So was Clinton’s success in California simply explained by Californians being smarter than the rest of the country?

Quick quiz: how does the average Californian’s IQ rack up against residents of other states?

The answer may surprise you ….

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Remember the Russian “reset” button?

December 15, 2016

Lessons in diplomacy …

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Of course, the current Russia hysteria has prompted flashbacks of the infamous Russian Reset …

Back in March 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov with a small green box with a ribbon.

Inside was a red button with the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

Clinton offered that pushing it would “reset our relationship” … ostensibly, for the better.

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So, how did that all work out?

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Flashback: Obama schools Romney that “Russia isn’t a threat”

December 14, 2016

Remember the 2012 Presidential debates?

A key moment was when President Obama ridiculed Gov. Romney’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Given the current hysteria over Russia, the clip is a classic …  try to stay calm when you.watch it

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Here’s more that’ll should make you scream …

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Maybe the Russians didn’t hack the DNC …

December 13, 2016

I’ve got an alternative scenario for you.

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Last week, focus shifted from fake news to Russian hacking intended to help Trump get elected.

There’s hand-wringing and outrage that the Russians might have tried to impact a U.S. election by revealing Hillary’s emails..

President Obama has ordered that an investigation be done and a report on his desk by the time he leaves office (i.e. right before President-elect Trump gets sworn in).

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Most recently, U.S. intelligence officials fingered the Russians but have conceded that (1) they are basing their views on deductive circumstantial reasoning and not conclusive evidence and (2) they are uncertain as to motive. Source

I’ve got an alternative deduced scenario for you.  Let’s connect some dots on this one …

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Trump slammed for skipping daily security briefings …

December 12, 2016

Flashback: Current POTUS skips more than half of his (while President).

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The MSM is blasting President-elect Trump for not having security briefings every day.

Keep in mind that Trump is President-elect, not President.

So, the briefings can be a learning experience, but there’s nothing actionable that he can do until January 20.

Putting that fact aside …

Flashback to a study done by Government Accountability Institute re: Obama’s briefing practices.

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At the time, security folks were concerned that Obama was frequently skipping his Presidential Daily Briefings (PDBs).

Here’s what the GAI found …

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