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Willisms

« November 2010 | WILLisms.com | January 2011 »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 916 -- Icing The Kicker.

It Actually Works-

There is a correlation between icing the kicker and field goal percentage in the NFL:

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Of the 163 field-goals attempted when a timeout was not called before the kick, 80.4 percent were successful. But in the 110 cases when the kicker was iced, the success rate dropped to 66.4 percent... .... Not surprisingly, kickers were more successful when their team called the timeout (83.3 percent), than they were when the opposing team did (64.4 percent).

I'd like to dive into the data further and determine whether certain kicks may have been deemed more ice-able by coaches, while certain other kicks may have been deemed less ice-able. Would a coach burn a timeout on a 20-yard chip shot on a sunny day with no wind? Or are coaches more likely to call that timeout with the intent of icing when the kicker is already facing tougher odds-- a 40 or 50 yard field goal, with poor weather, wind, etc. etc.

There may in some ways be a self-selection type of bias. Coaches may try to ice kickers when the circumstances of the kick are more difficult, because they understand that icing may increase the pressure just that much, while some coaches may not even bother trying to ice the kicker if it's truly a gimme.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: China's Rise.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 28 December 2010 02:58 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 915 -- China's Rise.

Overtaking America In Under A Decade-

Will the 21st Century be China's century?

Quite likely. And, maybe sooner rather than later:

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FORGET Monopoly or World of Warcraft. The Economist’s idea of Christmas fun is guessing when China’s economy will leapfrog America’s to become the world’s biggest. The Conference Board, a business-research group, recently predicted that China could become the world’s largest economy as soon as 2012 on a purchasing-power-parity (PPP) basis, which adjusts for the fact that prices are lower in China. But economists disagree on how to measure PPP. And America will only really be eclipsed when China’s GDP outstrips it in plain dollar terms, converted at market exchange rates.

Since by that reckoning China’s GDP is currently only two-fifths the size of America’s, that day may still seem distant. But it is getting closer. When Goldman Sachs made its first forecasts for the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in 2003, it predicted that China would overtake America in 2041. Now it says 2027. In November Standard Chartered forecast that it will happen by 2020. This partly reflects the impact of the financial crisis. In the third quarter of 2010 America’s real GDP was still below its level in December 2007; China’s GDP grew by 28% over the same period.

The main point to remember, however, is that China has a few times more people than America, therefore the standard of living for hundreds of millions-- even a billion-- people in China will still be incredibly low.

The 21st Century being China's Century is likely, but it is not inevitable. Having the highest corporate tax rate in the world, though, isn't helping.


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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Close Districts & Redistricting.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 27 December 2010 10:45 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 914 -- Close Districts & Redistricting.

Trench Warfare-

From the Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia:

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There were more competitive House races in 2010 than in any election since 1992. That, as measured by the number of “marginal” winners—defined here as those candidates elected in their districts with less than 55% of the total vote. As recently as 2004, the proportion of sub-55% winners was less than 10% of the entire House. This year, it was 25%.

Plenty more incumbents on the Democrat side won close elections:

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Nearly one out of every 10 House winners this fall (39 out of 435) were elected by a margin of less than 5 percentage points. In partisan terms, this number was closely divided – 21 Democrats and 18 Republicans. But while the bulk of the narrow GOP winners were successful challengers who ousted Democratic representatives, virtually all of the Democrats who triumphed by less than 5 points were incumbents who barely survived the strong political headwinds.

Redistricting, though, changes this equation:

reapportionment2012.gif

With a fairly robust redistricting happening in a lot of these states, some formerly narrow-margin seats may become safe seats. Some formerly safe seats may become narrow-margin seats.

And a lot of those close races Republicans won in 2010 get substantially easier with the power of incumbency.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Pay Freeze, Pay Schmeeze.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 22 December 2010 12:14 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 913 -- Pay Freeze, Pay Schmeeze.

Frozen Pay? Yeah Right-

About that "pay freeze" Obama was implementing for federal workers:

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A significant percentage of federal managers expect their salaries to increase during the next two years despite a proposed pay freeze, and few are making plans to retire quickly or seek other jobs, according to a new survey from the Government Business Council.

Okay. Yeah. So not really much of a pay freeze.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas Gaining Four Congressional Seats.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 21 December 2010 11:58 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 912 -- Reapportionment.

Obama Losing Six Electoral College Votes-

Tomorrow, it's official. The U.S. Census will release the numbers that determine reapportionment of Congressional seats and Electoral College votes.

Here's what is anticipated:

reapportionmentafter2010census.gif

This absolutely changes the calculus for 2012, which should be more like 2000 or 2004 than 2008, in terms of being a hard-fought battle rather than a blowout. In a hard-fought battle, every Electoral College vote matters. It's looking like a net swing of more than 12 Electoral College votes. Democrats down 6. Republicans up 6. Yes, those fluctuate a bit, since some states gaining and losing seats are more battleground than solid partisan states, but Republicans definitely benefit from this reapportionment. This also takes away clout in the U.S. House of Representatives from heavily unionized states like Ohio, Michigan, and Pennsylvania and adds clout to freer states like Texas, Georgia, and Florida.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Taxpayer Funding Of ACORN & Planned Parenthood.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 20 December 2010 10:14 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 911 -- Taxpayer Funding For Planned Parenthood & ACORN.

The ACORNS & Planned Parenthoods Of The World Have No Business Receiving Government Funding-

In April of 2008, not long after the Texas Presidential Prima-Caucus, I wrote:

In a recent GOP precinct meeting on election day last month here in Texas, a woman brought a resolution urging our elected officials to stop doling out public funds (right now, 336 million dollars per year) to Planned Parenthood. Astonishingly, the precinct meeting attendees voted against this measure by a narrow margin. I can understand being socially moderate, but I was amazed that whatever fiscally conservative instincts the group members had didn't kick in and guide their decisions. I didn't even think to speak in favor of it, just assuming it would pass easily.

But it didn't pass. In a room full of Republicans.

For some reason, that moment has stuck with me. It was a startling moment. These wealthy-ish Austin suburban Republicans were so willing to earn their socially moderate cards in the age of Obama that they threw out their fiscal conservative cards in the process. With the Hillary vs. Obama show on television every night, Republicans were not even on the playing field for the battle of ideas. The entire national debate was framed within the confines of the left-wing. And even Republican activists, the type who show up to a precinct caucus meeting, were caught up in it.

What a difference 2 and a half years makes.

I understand the impulse to prove how enlightened and progressive you are in a crowd of folks who own half million dollar+ homes (that's pretty high, for all the non-Texans out there) and drive luxury vehicles and have expensive hobbies. "I'm a Republican, yes, but I'm not one of those Republicans that they talk about on NPR. I'm an enlightened Republican."

Often, I hear from Republican-leaning people around liberal Austin, "Well, I'd be a Republican, but I don't like the social conservatives. They scare me. Republicans should dump them."

Enough.

Government spending is simply out of control in this country, particularly at the federal level. If we can't cut the symbolic stuff-- the pork barrel projects and funding to groups like Planned Parenthood and ACORN-- we'll never be able to trim spending on the big ticket entitlements.

Let's hope the TEA Party movement gives Republicans more backbone. When it comes to funding for groups like Planned Parenthood and ACORN, it becomes clear why social conservatives and fiscal conservatives have traditionally gotten along so well together.

Let's try not to forget the importance of that social/fiscal conservative alliance again, lest we end up back where we were a couple years ago-- with the greatest expansion of government since perhaps the New Deal. Neither fiscal nor social conservatives can be happy with this:

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: The United States Now Has The Highest Corporate Tax Rate On The Planet.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 17 December 2010 12:22 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 910 -- United States Will Soon Have Highest Corporate Tax Rate On The Planet

Losing Competitiveness-

Twenty years ago, the United States had one of the lower corporate tax rates in the developed world. Of the 23 OECD countries in 1990, America's tax burden was 16th.

Over the course of the past two decades, not only have emerging economies-- typically with low tax rates-- rapidly joined the industrialized world, but existing advanced economies have slashed their tax rates to become more competitive.

In the meantime, the U.S. has actually raised corporate taxes over the past two decades:

makingunitedstateslesscompetitive.gif
Since 1990, of the 23 OECD members that had a corporate income tax at that time, 22 have reduced their rate. On average, the rate reduction was about 14 percentage points. The United States was the only country to increase its federal rate, from 34 percent to 35 percent in 1993.

Meanwhile, over the course of a similar time period, America greatly expanded the number of college graduates and spent enormous sums on public and higher education, without the commensurate results to show for it:

In 1992 the BLS reports that total college graduate employment was 28.9 million, of whom 5.1 million were in occupations which the BLS classified as “noncollege level jobs” while in 2008 the BLS data indicate that total college graduate employment was 49.35 million, with 17.4 million in occupations classified as requiring less than a bachelor’s degree.

An example or two from specific occupations is useful. In 1992 119,000 waiters and waitresses were college degree holders. By 2008, this number had more than doubled to 318,000. While the total number of waiters and waitresses grew by about 1 million during this period, 20% of all new jobs in this occupation were filled by college graduates. Take cashiers as well. While 132,000 cashiers possessed college degrees in 1992, by 2008, 365,000 cashiers were college graduates. As with waiters and waitresses, 20% of new cashiers since 1992 are college graduates.

In other words, in 1992, about the time America was declaring victory in the Cold War, 17.6% of college grads worked jobs that were "below them." In 2008, 35.3% of college grads (roughly double) worked those kinds of menial jobs. Education may indeed be part of America's problem, but not in the way it is often described-- "too little opportunity stifling the hopes and dreams of many." Instead, the numbers loudly and clearly that America is simply devoting its ample education resources toward inefficient ends. For those who consistently clamor that our schools and colleges are underfunded, you're just wrong. They're improperly funded, certainly. But not underfunded. And there's not too little opportunity or too much of it. But we are subsidizing the wrong kind, wasting an inordinate amount of resources along the way.

The 20th Century was America's Century, and many believe the 21st Century will be China's Century. Or Asia's, more generally.

Only if we resign ourselves to that fate.

It's not hopeless, and we should stop acting like it's hopeless. The 21st Century can still be America's Century, if we reform our economy and stop moving toward becoming precisely the socialist system we fought against throughout the better part of the 20th Century.

We can't take for granted that America is number one, and think we can do whatever we want with our tax policy and skate by on our good name. We should stop thinking "more" education is the answer, and if we throw enough money at it, we'll be just fine. We should also stop being so defeatist and protectionist about outsourcing and offshoring of jobs-- as if it's inevitable and we should just give up. The 2006 and 2008 elections set our country back easily a decade or more, but 2010 and hopefully 2012 right the ship and set our country back on a path of fiscal sanity, economic certainty, and America can yet again become the world's most robust engine of commerce.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Texas' Creation Of More Private Sector Jobs Than All Other States Combined Continues.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 16 December 2010 10:28 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 909 -- Texas' Creation Of More Private Sector Jobs Than All Other States Combined Continues.

The Texas Model-

Texanomics has looked at the latest rolling numbers of the past five years of job growth in the various states:

netprivatesectorjobcreation.gif

In other words, Texas has created more than twice the private-sector jobs of all other states combined over the past five years.

But the numbers are slightly skewed due to Hurricane Katrina, a little more than five years ago. Louisiana lost hundreds of thousands of jobs almost instantly, and quickly regained many recovery jobs in the months that followed. We're now in the "months that followed," five years later.

If you adjust for that turbulence, Texas has created more than 83% of all private-sector jobs in America over the past five years. That's more than 4 times the number of jobs of all other states combined:

adjustedforkatrina.gif

Look at the remainder of the states adding private-sector jobs. Utah. Oklahoma. Wyoming. South Dakota. Nebraska. They're not all just oil and gas jobs. They're almost all in some of the nation's most conservative red states, though. When people say Texas is the model for America's recovery, that's true. And you can lump in a handful of other states with similar economic structures (no income tax, fair and predictable regulatory environments, etc.).

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Anemic Job Creation.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 14 December 2010 04:07 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 908 -- Anemic Job Creation.

Pitiful Jobs Numbers-

Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Tom Pauken has some scary and gloomy numbers about youth employment (or lack thereof) in the United States:

smallbusinessprivatesectorjobgrowth.gif

Other terrible numbers, especially for young folks:

Unemployment among teenagers is at 24.6 percent, nearly double what it was 10 years ago. For those 19 to 24-years-old, unemployment is 15.6 percent compared with 6.8 percent in 2000. Even college graduates are finding it hard to land jobs. Unemployment for those with bachelor’s degrees rose in November to a 30-year high of 5.1 percent.

....

Privately held firms with fewer than 500 employees have added an average of 35,000 net jobs a month in 2010 compared to 143,000 in 2006 and 79,000 in 2007. Fewer jobs being created in the private sector means less in the way of employment opportunities for young Americans.

No wonder Barack Obama's approval rating has sunk from around 60% to about 44% among young voters.

Democrats are bad news, especially for young workers in America.

Meanwhile, Texas holds the blueprint for job creation in the United States.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: State Legislative Landslide.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 13 December 2010 01:55 PM · Comments (1)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 907 -- State Legislative Landslide.

State Lege Movement-

Most pundits are dwelling on the U.S. Congressional balance of power following the "shellacking" Republicans gave Democrats last month, but the real story from 2010 is the landslide at the down-ballot legislative level:

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Including gains in odd-year elections in four states, special election wins, and over a dozen Democratic state legislators who have switched their party affiliation in the past several weeks, Republicans netted 721 seats in the 2010 election cycle (since January of 2009). Republicans now control almost exactly 54 percent of the nation’s 7382 legislative seats that are partisan, excluding Nebraska’s nonpartisan, unicameral legislature.

What really matters, though, is getting enough seats to claim the majority in a particular legislative body. In the nation’s 98 partisan state legislative chambers, Republicans almost completely reversed their standing. Headed into the election, Democrats had a 60-36 advantage with two chambers, the Alaska Senate and Montana House, tied. When most legislatures convene new sessions in early January, Republicans will control 57 chambers, Democrats 39, and again, two will be tied, the Alaska Senate and the Oregon House.

Republicans now control the entire legislature in 25 states, 11 more than they had going in to the 2010 elections. For their part, Democrats control both houses of 16 legislatures, with eight states facing divided control of the legislature. The last time Republicans controlled this many legislatures was after the 1952 election, when they had 26.


The landslide in state legislatures may indicate a substantial amount of straight-ticket voting for Republicans.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Reagan Versus Obama.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 10 December 2010 01:49 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 906 -- Reagan's Recovery Versus Obama's Non-Recovery.

This Is What Recovery Looks Like-

I've seen some pundits prognosticate on the boob tube that Barack Obama is in about the same position Ronald Reagan was in in 1982. The economy was struggling. Republicans lost seats in Congress. And then he roared back to one of the largest landslide victories in history in 1984.

Well, some differences. In the Reagan administration, at this time, job recovery was under way:

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According to The National Bureau of Economic Research, the Great Recession began in December 2007, lasted 18 months, and ended in June 2009. The last recession that lasted this long began in July 1981, lasted 16 months, and ended in November 1982.

....

At this stage of the Reagan recovery, unemployment had fallen more than three full points, from 10.8% to 7.7%. By contrast, under the Obama recovery unemployment has actually risen almost a half a percent from 9.4% to 9.8%.

Heritage offers a few reasons the recoveries are different.

UPDATE: No wonder most Americans believe they're worse off under Obama.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Media Framing Not Raising Taxes As Tax Cuts.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 9 December 2010 09:44 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 905 -- Tax Cuts Or Tax Hikes?

Smoke & Mirrors-

This piece by Thomas Sowell really lays it out better than maybe anything else out there:

When you refrain from raising someone's taxes, you are not "giving" them anything. Even if you were actually cutting their tax rate -- which is out of the question today -- you would still not be "giving" them anything, but only allowing them to keep more of what they have earned.

Is the government doing any of us a big favor by not taking even more of what we have worked for? Is it not an insult to our intelligence to say that the government is "giving" us something by not taxing it away?

The networks sure are framing it as "tax cuts," when it's really just keeping the nearly decade-long status quo intact:

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: That Federal Pay "Freeze" Is Well Above 32 Degrees.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 8 December 2010 05:14 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 904 -- About That Federal Pay "Freeze."

Smoke & Mirrors-

The more information that comes out about that "federal employee pay freeze," the more meaningless it looks:

federalpayraises.gif

Despite the freeze, some 1.1 million employees will receive more than $2.5 billion in raises during that period.

Congress is expected to approve Obama's proposal, which cancels only cost-of-living adjustments for two years. Regularly scheduled step increases for the 1.4 million General Schedule employees — who make up two-thirds of the civilian work force — will continue. The size of those increases ranges from 2.6 percent to 3.3 percent and by law kick in every one, two or three years, depending on an employee's time in grade.

Well, then.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Manufacturing Jobs & California & Texas.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 7 December 2010 09:19 AM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 903 -- Texas Versus California, Manufacturing Jobs.

Texas Owns It Again-

Manufacturing jobs; Texas versus other states:

tex-vs-cal-mfg-jobs.gif

California has lost another 1,200 manufacturing jobs in 2010 while Texas has gained 29,500, reports the California Manufacturers & Technology Association.

America can be fixed.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Entitlement Reform.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 6 December 2010 01:39 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 902 -- Entitlement Reform

We Need More Paul Ryans-

We can eliminate future deficits with serious entitlement reform:

entitlement-reform-eliminates-deficits-850.gif

Nobody wants to touch entitlements. Voters punish those who touch entitlements and reward those who demagogue and use scare tactics on the issue.

We need to rally behind folks like Paul Ryan when they propose serious entitlement reform. Each year that passes without action makes it far more difficult to do entitlement reform without serious pain.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Republican Congressional Gains.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 3 December 2010 02:40 PM · Comments (0)

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 901 -- Map Shows GOP Gains.

Looking At 2010 Simplistically-

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Every red dot represents a Republican pick-up (66 in all). The three blue dots are the sum total of Democratic takeovers in GOP districts (Delaware-AL, Louisiana-2, and Hawaii-1). The net Republican gain appears to settling in at 63. Thirty-three states gave the GOP at least one additional seat.

The Election Day “wave” for the Republicans produced a bumper crop of 23 new seats in the South and Border States, where the GOP traditionally does well. This region accounted for more than a third of total Republican gains.

But the key to the Republican House takeover occurred in the North Central states through the industrial Midwest. Pennsylvania (5), Ohio (5), and most surprisingly, New York (6) and Illinois (4) joined Indiana (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), New Hampshire (2), and New Jersey (1) in shifting a regional total of 29 to the GOP.

....

The other side of the equation can be seen in the Pacific Coast states (Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington). Despite the Red wave sweeping America, the net House gain for the GOP in these five states was zero (+1 in Washington and -1 in Hawaii). The Pacific states of California, Oregon, and Washington have become a Blue sandbar that can withstand even a Republican tsunami. Strong GOP candidates for Governor in Oregon and California were defeated. Credible Republican Senate contenders in California and Washington could not oust Democratic incumbents. With 53 House berths, not a single Golden State seat changed party hands.

Back in 1994, the last GOP landslide year, Republicans picked up three seats in California. The story is worse for Republicans in Washington State, which was ground zero for the GOP in 1994, when the party won six House seats and held their Senate seat too. All the state’s House seats save one were impervious to a Red tide this time around.

Imagine if California, Oregon, and Washington had been more inclined to go Republican this year. This wave truly could have been the biggest and most profound in American history. They stuck with Pelosi, Reid, and Obama for a lot of reasons. Namely, Democrats have successfully created a powerful coalition of unionized government employees, hipster/yuppie/progressive/upper-middle class/would-be-intellectual, latte-sipping, NPR-listening, Prius-driving self-styled sophisticates, and a surging population of immigrants, mostly from Mexico. They simply have the numbers, and the fact that impressive candidate and local basketball hero Chris Dudley couldn't win the Governor's race in Oregon against has-been former Governor John Kitzhaber, or the fact that Meg Whitman lost to the very man, Jerry Brown, who set California on its current path toward insolvency when he was Governor decades ago, is very disappointing indeed.

This reversion to the past, choosing from among the same limited few failures that have caused these states such economic and fiscal turmoil in the first place, only goes to show, once again, that left-wingers are actually more insular and close-minded than they like to admit.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Red Tape Rising Under Obama.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 2 December 2010 11:29 AM · Comments (0)