Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One more twist on the Pay Freeze

There is one other idea that should be added to the mix on the President's proposal.  According to the WSJ since 1997 the number of civilian employees of the federal government has increased by 17%. (or about 300,000 new highly paid employees).   The folly of the limited proposal looks even sillier with that data in tow.

We should not heap comment on the President alone.  Six GOP members of the US Senate just voted against ending earmarks - two were lame ducks (Voinovich and Bennett) - one (Murkowski was just "re-elected" - I will bet Alaskans are proud of that vote) and the rest ( Cochran, Collins,  Inhofe , Lugar, and Shelby (Ala.) were just lame.

Dick Durbin reflected the Washington political class - "I believe I have an important responsibility to the state of Illinois and the people I represent to direct federal dollars into projects critically important for our state and our future. "  What a crock.

The President's Pay Freeze - a small step

The President's proposal for freezing pay for federal workers for the next two years, which would save about $6 billion over the term of the freeze, is welcome.   Average federal pay has been growing in recent years and now is north of $82,000 per year.  That of course does not include the dough that employees get in benefits.   That salary level compares to the median household income in the country in 2009 of about $50,000.  So you can get an idea about how generous we are with those employees.

A lot of recent studies have pointed out that federal pay is considerably higher than the private sector.  And friends of public employees have argued that those reports are flawed because they do not control for the level of education required.  After all the federal government employs a lot of scientists, and engineers and lawyers.  The Federal Times, in a recent article said 45% of federal employees have a college degree. That is about half again as many in the private sector.  That may be another point (do we really need all those highly educated people running our lives? Is the work of government so technical that it requires that level of education? Or more appropriately should it be?).   But that argument is for another day.

On this one look at the impact of the President's proposal on the deficit.  Can't see it?  That is the point.  In addition to the freeze on pay he should be seriously thinking about reducing the number of employees.  When Washington begins to feel this recession, we will know they have begun to understand it a bit better.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Faith - Markets and Government

For the past couple of days we have been visiting our daughter and her husband and my mother in law and my wife's sister.   Friday night at dinner we had a discussion about the book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis.    From all that I have read and heard, the crisis in the housing market has many fathers.  About a year ago we had dinner with the retired CEO of Bank of America who argued that the mortgage crisis came about because of a series of governmental mis-steps including expansion of the tax free treatment of gains for houses, the expansion of leverage of Fannie and Freddie and the widening of the Community Reinvestment Act.   Obviously there is the rest of the story which involves the development of the synthetic instruments, CDOs and the like, by investment houses.  On that side there are a lot of causes besides making the mortgage market more fluid and less tied to an individual banking institution.  Lewis' book tells the investment side of the story pretty well.  But surprisingly he does not mention the role of members of congress (especially Christopher Dodd and Barney Frank) who frustrated the role of regulators who recognized some of the excesses of the Government Sponsored Entities.   The role of the ratings agencies and the bankers who really did not understand their own instruments are high on Lewis' list but there were also the natural tendency of many in the business world to act in their narrow self interest.

But from the perspective of my sister in law at was an assumption that the blame fell all on the private sector and those "greedy" bankers and insurance types.  In reality it was both.   The problem comes from the interaction of the government and private sector.  This chart from the WSJ shows that as we have gone through TARP and all the other supposed efforts to ameliorate the mortgage problem, the length of the average delay in payment for homes in foreclosure has increased rather dramatically.

I understand that I am perpetually skeptical of the efficacy of governmental action to help in many (or even most areas) - but I am always struck to encounter someone who seems to believe the opposite.  Public Choice Economics teaches us that people do not throw off their self interest when they take roles in government.  To assume self interest in the private sector is assumed - but my surprise is that many do not seem to see that does not change when you move things to the government.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Intimacy, 2010 (another thing I do not get)

After seeing Handel's Orlando with the Sacramento Opera this afternoon we went to a place that we like for dinner near our house.  I noticed the couple in the picture behind us.  The photo is not retouched much and was taken with my phone.  But notice one thing about it.  Both people in the picture are using their Smartphones.  That made me wonder.  Were they not connecting?  Were they looking up reviews of the restaurant on Yelp or some other social networking site?  Were they passing on dirty notes which they did not want the rest of the patrons to hear?

I thought part of the fun of going out to dinner was the opportunity to talk without the bother of distractions like phone calls.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Breathless News

My wife is a big fan of Dancing with the Stars.  I'm not.   I was home on Monday and thought the woman who was voted off did a lousy job in one of her two dances.  But I really do not care.

But all of a sudden the NY Daily News has a story that Bristol called her dancing partner some names.  And then there is the rumor that somehow Bristol or her mom manipulated the Tea Party to get them to vote for her.

So is this an important story?  Even with the twists - probably designed to get everyone to look in for the final event - it is just so much hype.  I understand that many in the liberal side of the aisle are absolutely paranoid about Bristol's mom.  Get over it.  The chances of her ever being president about tiny - if not non-existent.  Sarah's gift is to annoy the left - just like Ariana Huffington is to annoy the right.  Both are relatively attractive and have a gift of the gab.  But would the American people choose either to run their government?  Not a chance.

The second set of breathless reporting is about the new TSA procedure to scan our bodies. (Horrors!!!!!!!)  A couple of nut cases have protested this new "intrusive" scanning procedure.

I am one who a) flies a lot and b) thinks one of the biggest mistakes of the W. Administration was agreeing to move all those security personnel into federal jobs. But even with that why does anybody care.    I'm reasonably convinced that the full body scan is not necessary to figure out who the terrorists are.  But once you agree to having the government do this job you also implicitly agree to having bureaucrats make decisions which may or may not include anything relating to how to achieve the results we all want (safe air travel).

For me the bottom line is not whether Bristol makes it through the finals of Dancing with the Stars or whether the TSA has an outrageous new procedure to annoy air travelers.  When you think about what we should do about the deficit or how we should organize our health care system or how this country should respond to Islamic fanatics - these stories deserve to be put into the dustbin of history even before they are written.

The Role of the Independents

I was in Washington for a couple of days of meetings and yesterday heard from Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report.  Rothernberg has a deserved reputation as one of the prime election analysts.  But he made a point yesterday which I disagree with.

A key factor in this election (and indeed in the elections in 2006 and 2008) was the votes of the independents.  In 2006 and 2008 the independent voters trended heavily toward the democrats. In this election they trended heavily toward the GOP.  Rothenberg characterized the independents as "mood" voters - not much involved in the political life of the country and prone to swing based on their mood.  

There is some interesting scholarly writing on the subject.  For example there was The Myth of the Independent Voter which argued that independents are really closet liberals or conservatives, which was published about a decade ago.   From my perspective the idea that independents are motivated primarily by mood is a gross oversimplification.   In recent years in California the number of voters who are decline to state has increased to just over 20% of the electorate.   That number is rising quickly.  It is not because of those voters are increasingly moody.  Indeed, independent voters are not caught up in the day to day gossip and intrigues of political life.  But that does not mean they are inattentive.

From my perspective the trend is a reflection that an increasing fraction of voters are dissatisfied with the choices they are offered by the traditional parties.   The US is still a center right country.   Those independent voters have a mix of beliefs that are reflected in the last three elections.  The GOP's constant harping about matters which many voters thought should be outside of politics caused many of them to bolt in 2006 and 2008.  The perception that Congress was rentable through things like earmarks did not diminish that shift.  But then comes 2010, many Americans perceived that the current administration and leadership in the congress had vastly over-reached.   Government was perceived, rightly in my opinion, as getting into too many things.   The process of adopting the health care bill and the financial regulation bill was perceived as arbitrary and intrusive.

If my hypothesis is correct, the GOP will need to stay away from earmarks and work to correct the excesses of both of the major landmarks of the last two years.  If they do, there will not be a wide swing back in 2012.  If they don't and the democrats show they have recognized the overstepping they did in these last two years, we could have a swing back. It isn't that the independents are "moody" it is that they will not be drawn into the petty machinations of politics unless they feel they need to be.

Monday, November 15, 2010

What is Wrong With Cable News

CNBC has a poll this morning that contains a set of false choices.  It asks listeners to choose between Social Security, Medicare and Defense as places to reduce the federal budget.  As the recently published Debt Commission Report suggests real choices will come from all those and more.  A Forbes columnist suggests we should eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration and send the function back to the private sector.   Others have suggested that we eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The point is we should be considering all of those and more.

Some would argue that Social Security cannot be reduced.  How about, as the Commission Report said, reducing the inflation formula for adjusting benefits?  How about considering increasing the eligibility age over time?   Medicare?  How about moving a lot of Medicare from an entitlement to something closer to vouchers?   In Defense, can't it be assumed that we could make some better choices?

The point is the MSM and politicians constantly argue that cutting the budget is hard.  It was easy to get us into this mess - but just because it was easy on the way up, why should it be any harder on the way down the spending curve.

Two applications of the First Amendment

Two stories caught my eye  in relation to the First Amendment.  The first was about Amazon's pulling The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure by Phillip Greaves.   The book seems to have been uniformly condemned but some sources have commented that by pulling the book that Amazon somehow violated the author's First Amendment rights.  Nonsense.   Amazon is a private company.  The First Amendment protects the right of Mr. Greaves to publish all sorts of offensive stuff so long as he does not directly violate laws.  So for example, he could publish a book like this, even though the content is offensive, but he could be prevented from publishing the same book with photos of pedophiles in action.   But Amazon, as a business is under no obligation to carry any product.   I assume that there are millions of books that Amazon does not sell - based on their marketing decisions.   The First Amendment has nothing to say about Amazon's decision on what to sell.

In May of 2010 students in one California district were banned from wearing a flag shirt to their school.  This month one kid (Cody Allecia) who rode his bike to school in the Central Valley was told by the Superintendent to pack the flag away.   The Superintendent of Denair USD said that the flag would somehow be disruptive.  Shame on the Superintendent - who does not seem to have read the First Amendment (he seems to have gotten his undergraduate degree in Poultry from CSUSLO).   To his credit (or whatever) the Superintendent later allowed the student to fly his flag and said he will address the issue at the School Board's November 18  meeting.   In this case the ultimate right of a student to engage in political speech (protected by the First Amendment) was immediately limited but then seemingly restored.

Cable News and Nullum Prandium non es Gratuitum

CNBC has a poll this morning that contains a set of false choices.  It asks listeners to choose between Social Security, Medicare and Defense as places to reduce the federal budget.  As the recently published Debt Commission Report suggests real choices will come from all those and more.  A Forbes columnist suggests we should eliminate funding for the Transportation Security Administration and send the function back to the private sector.   Others have suggested that we eliminate funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  The point is we should be considering all of those and more.

Some would argue that Social Security cannot be reduced.  How about, as the Commission Report said, reducing the inflation formula for adjusting benefits?  How about considering increasing the eligibility age over time?   Medicare?  How about moving a lot of Medicare from an entitlement to something closer to vouchers?   In Defense, can't it be assumed that we could make some better choices?

The point is the MSM and politicians constantly argue that cutting the budget is hard.  It was easy to get us into this mess - but just because it was easy on the way up, why should it be any harder on the way down the spending curve?  Tim Pawlenty, who is evidently running to President, has an article in the Manchester Union Leader which argues that we should simply close the open bar in Washington.   Sounds like an awfully good idea.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

An Interesting Excursion - The Redistricting Commission

This morning the Bee did a story on the finalists for the Redistricting Commission.  What intrigued me about the list of finalists is their backgrounds.   You can read their biographies here but in order to understand who remains on the list you need to go here.   I know a couple of the people who applied.  I also read several of the applications and bios on the site of the remaining 36.  From my perspective, the process will be in pretty good hands - certainly better than it would have been had we allowed the legislature to do this again.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marv Esch

The third job I had in politics, was with a Michigan congressman named Marvin Esch.  I only worked with him for a year.  But it was an important year for me professionally.   Marv was a consummate optimist with a good sense of humor who did not take himself seriously although he did take his job seriously.  I came to him after the US Senator I was working for  (Winston Prouty) died in office.   In 1970 Prouty was in a very tough re-election campaign which he survived.   Esch was in a similar race in 1972.  He was running against a well financed candidate named Marv Stempien.   We worked hard in that campaign and won it.   Esch came to congress after serving in the Michigan legislature and before that was a professor of speech.

The campaign that year was as tough as the 1970 one had been.  And like the Prouty-Hoff campaign, our opponent had the resources to make it very competitive.  We needed to respond quickly.  At one point he encountered a hit piece put out by our opponent and got it to us in DC within a few hours.  Our AA and I spent most of that evening crafting out a response that mocked the hit piece.  We printed it on the equivalent of a sophisticated mimeo machine and got it back to the district before morning. (No faxes or emails then.)  We only printed a few hundred of the counter-attacks but they were successful enough to make all the ones that Stempien had printed useless.  When I was in the district a few days later and watching a Stempien rally - he tried to hand out the hit piece and one person said - "no not this one, I want the funny one.

Esch was not afraid to take unpopular positions.  He was a strong advocate for the voluntary army.   But he also understood political realities.  For a good part of 1972, the issue of forced busing was coursing through Michigan politics.  Marv understood the destructive nature of the plans that had been adopted in many parts of the country and thus represented his district well.  We argued a lot about whether he should sign a discharge petition to get the issue considered on the floor of the House.  When he finally made his decision he called me in and said "OK, now write my statement supporting the discharge petition."  It was a position that I disagreed with but one that made political sense.

Perhaps the most memorable thing about the year (besides our compelling victory that November) was a visit to Siena Heights College, in Lenawee County.  Siena Heights was a small Catholic College in Adrian, Michigan.  Like many institutions of its size it was struggling.  It also had its first lay president (Siena was founded by the Dominicans).   We visited there in the Spring of 1972 for perhaps two hours.

Marv's district was unique in that it had more college students in it than any other in the country - with the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Livonia Community College and then two independent colleges in Lenawee County.   1972 was the year the Congress did the first reauthorization of the Higher Education Act of 1965.  Marv was the number two member of the Education and Labor Committee and thus would play a leading role in mapping strategy for the GOP members of the Committee.  

In June the Michigan legislature, which was controlled by democrats, voted to move Lenawee county out of the second district.  It was heavily Republican and by removing the voters there, the district would be a lot less favorable to Esch.  But because of the visit and the energy we saw at Siena, all through the conference committee discussions, Marv would turn to me an say "What do you think this proposal would do to Siena College?"   That taught me an important lesson - that impressions in politics are critical.  At the same time, Marv was enough of an idealist to think about the broader questions of public policy should not be decided merely on constituent needs.

One other story bears repeating.  I heard Marv tell a story many times when I worked for him which I thought was funny.  He would be asked to speak to prospective candidates about the role of a politician. He would say there are only three things a politician needs to know.  The eager candidates would write down "Only three things to know" - some would even underline the opening.  He would then say "First, you've got to be for everything that is good."  Most of the crowd would write down "for everything that's good."   He would then say second "You have to be against everything that's bad."  By now a smaller group of the candidates were taking notes.  Then he would deliver the zinger where he would say "The third one is the toughest, you have to understand the difference between #1 and #2."

I got lured away from Marv's office after the 1972 campaign in part because someone offered me a lot more money.  I soon learned that had not been a good campaign move.   Marv went on to challenge Don Riegle in the 1976 Senate race and lost.  Riegle had been a moderate Republican who switched parties.  In almost any other year, Marv would have made a race of it.  Marv went on to work for US Steel and then did some other gigs.  He retired to Michigan.

Marv died in June of this year and for some reason, I did not see notice of it until now.  Over my career I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of smart people - Marv tied intellect with principle.   That combination is all too rare.

80 Times Around the World

On Wednesday evening, somewhere in the middle of the country, I passed 2,000,000 miles on United.  For those of you without a calculator, that means I have flown the equivalent of 80 times around the world.

Indeed, I have been to a lot of places in the world - some that not many get to, like Palau.  But a lot of it was schlepping between Sacramento and Washington, D.C.   I've also done a lot of flying to Mexico in the last 20 years working with universities there.

The 2 million miles does not include non-United miles - so all those with Pan Am and Southwest and Mexicana and Aeromexico and a raft of other airlines many of which are no longer in business would add a lot more miles to the mix.

The question is what do I have do show for it?  As I thought about it there are three things.  #1 - A bunch of interesting experiences - getting an audience with John Paul II (albeit in a large group); eating dinner in Kyoto at one of the finest restaurants I have ever experienced; fishing in Wyoming; visiting most of the 50 states (sorry Dakotas and Alaska); seeing the energy of the Bermudan people before and after Hurricane Emily - to name a few.  #2 - When you reach a million miles with United you become the second level of flight status for life.  When you reach two million they add membership in the Red Carpet room for life.  If one gets to three million miles you get 1K status for life (which I have had for the last twenty years).  But as Up in the Air suggested earlier in the year - recognition by travel companies is not all it is staked out to be.  #3 - All that travel widened my vision and forced me to begin to work on Spanish (although most of my Mexican friends would argue there is still a long way to go). #4 - A very disciplined travel style.  I know how to pack for almost any trip and to reduce the bulk of what I take.  That does not carryover to the detritus in my office and home.  But at least there is a start.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Candidates and Irritants

Pajamas Media published a post yesterday which commented that Sarah Palin would be better off continuing to take the role of social commentator than political candidate.  I argued that was correct and that in the end she would choose the dough and the fame over the candidacy.   A lefty friend of mine commented - "She is an irritant to the left, and if they had any self respect or intellectual integrity, she'd be an embarrassment to the right. But the bottom line is that she's a megalomaniac on a mission from God. She'll hear the whispers from the sycophants saying, "Run, run, run. It's God's plan." Her ego won't be able to resist."

So it seems Palin is doing her job quite well.   Think of Palin as the right wing version of Ariana Huffington - someone who jabbers a lot and irritates the other side but is unlikely to ever be a serious political candidate.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Another thing I do not understand

In the last few years I have averaged about 90 nights a year in hotel rooms.  In many today you get a little nudge that says "if you are environmentally conscious hang up your towels and we won't wash them - that will save a gazillion gallons of water."  Here is the rub, many of these same hotels now offer beds with tons of pillows - not one or two but four to six.  Presumably when a guest leaves a room those extra pillow cases are washed.  So even if I buy the idea of saving water - just how do all those new extra pillows fit into the saving water thing?

As I think I have said before, I do not participate in those programs because the interests are not aligned.  If they said, hang up your towels and we'll knock $5 off you bill - then I might consider doing it.  But exactly why is it in my interest to lower their costs?  They keep raising their room rates.  So how about some balance.

When will candidates get it?

This morning's Bee had an article about campaign consultant Mike Murphy who mismanaged the recent campaign for Meg Whitman.   He took a lead in the Spring and moved it into a rout in November, all with $140 million.  He claimed the state was "too blue" to win a campaign.  What nonsense.  He got paid $90,000 per month.  So when should Whitman claim a refund.  He certainly did not add any value to the campaign.  He never really defined why Whitman was running.  He blew the most explosive issue in the campaign by simply trying to hide it until the Brown campaign brought up the immigration problems of Whitman's former and well paid domestic.

Remember that this is the same incompetent who talked John McCain into accepting Sarah Palin as his candidate for VP.

Murphy has a wealth of excuses but in the future let's hope that people he tries to help will look a bit more closely into his record before retaining him.  He is a one person wrecking crew.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The right to choose

This afternoon two friends came over to bring back some stuff we had lent them for a party.  We got to talking about the election and discussing the campaigns for Governor and Senator in California.  The wife said she believed in a "woman's right to choose" and that women should have control of their bodies on the issue of abortion.

I asked her how she had voted on Proposition 19 (the Marijuana initiative) she said she had voted no.  I commented that I thought that was in conflict with her basic principle on abortion issues.   If the state should not intervene in deciding about whether to abort a fetus, then why would it be logical to prevent someone from smoking dope?  She responded that it was different.  I asked how?  She said there is a great possibility that pot smokers can injure others (one wonders whether the same argument about the fetus makes any sense).   I responded that existing law allows additional penalties for people who drive with impairments (including dope and alcohol).   So I wondered why she would reject a candidate who did not allow a woman to control her body but would reject a proposal to allow pot smokers to decide what they put in their body.

Note - I believe that existing law on abortion diminishes the ability of fathers to be involved in the decisions about children and thus makes them less responsible - but believe that the state should not be involved in medical decisions (like abortion) either in intervening between a woman and her fetus or in funding the provision of abortion.  At the same time I voted against Proposition 19 (in part because I thought it was poorly drafted) - so her illogic also applies to my voting pattern.  But I wanted to point out that most Californians do not believe in an absolute right to choose on most activities in society.

Presidential Articles

On Wednesday morning I did note to my son in law which said "your President" lost big last night.  He responded and said "you mean our president."   I responded syntactically.   The president is an office that all of us should respect, he is the constitutionally selected leader of the country.   But there is another side of the presidency which was repudiated on Tuesday.  The policies of the current president (including his massive health care bill) were significantly rejected in Tuesday's election.   So while I continue to respect the President and the Presidency, I am glad that the American people woke up to the problems created by the Obama Administration proposed by a person I did not vote for.

More election thoughts

An IBD (Investor's Business Daily poll taken November 1-4 said that 53% of Americans would prefer to solve the budget problems at the federal level by cutting things rather than increasing taxes.  They also do not seem to believe that more economic "stimulus" will help move the economy forward.

Those thoughts were revealed on Tuesday when the GOP captured at least 60 seats in the house and move 680 seats in state legislatures (the previous record there was 472). So why hasn't the massive infusion of dough moved economic activity more.   After all if you buy the Keynesian interpretation of the responses in the Great Depression all those alphabet agencies that FDR created actually moved the economy forward.

There is currently considerable research that suggests that the standard interpretation of our movement out of depression in the 1930s is simply wrong.   If you track unemployment we did not begin to move out of high double digit unemployment until World War II.  And, indeed, many of the measures enacted by Roosevelt may well have reduced certainty and thus slowed economic recovery. For example the most readable interpretation of that view comes in Amity Shales The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression.   But there is plenty of other research that brings the interpretation into question.  Robert Higgs (Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government (A Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy Book) has a couple of books on the issue.

But even if you buy the standard FDR as savior interpretation, one wonders why all that dough we have spent this time has not had a noticeable effect.   Again there are a couple of interpretations.  On the left, (Paul Krugman for example) some have argued that we did not spend enough.  From my point of view, that is just looney tunes.  

The alternative view could be that the situation is different.  For the last 40 years or so we have floated around 33-35% of GDP as a portion of federal tax revenues/spending.  That compares to about 13% at the start of the depression. After the Depression and WWII there Federal share of our GDP was about a quarter.  From Nixon through Bush that percentage rose to the low to mid thirties. The first year of the Obama administration that number jumped to well over 42%.   One response could be that the effect of a reduction of the private sector for a temporary period when the economy is less than a fifth might have a more significant effect than when it is close to two fifths.   American voters may realize the diminishing effects of infusions of borrowed money better than the political class.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Five Thoughts on the Election

#1 - Ding Dong the Witch is Dead - The reign of one of the most imperious Speakers of the House is over. None too soon.  Remember she was the one who said to her members they could find out what was in the health care bill after it was past.    I, for one, am glad she is gone.

#2 - The GOP won an impressive set of elections in the House, in State Houses and in Governorships - at this point there are 11 races that have not been called in the House and in five the GOP is leading - that would mean a net gain of 65 seats. That is the largest win for the GOP ever. Most of the map in the middle two years ago was blue. Evidently a vote for the health care monstrosity that the Imperial Speaker thought was not meant to be read - was not a popular one.   Even the GOP member who voted for one version of it - lost.  Some long term democrat members (those that had not retired already) lost. To put that in perspective look at Jim Oberstar, Ike Skelton and Russ Feingold - between them they had more than 80 years of seniority.  The impressive nature of the win is also conditioned on the retirements like Bart Stupak and David Obey who opted not to go for re-election.  One of the most obnoxious members of the House (Alan Grayson) got picked off.   The new senate may have a hard time if Reid wants to try to run it the way he did.  But you also need to look at the 2012 class where there are several democratic members who come from now redder states.  Reid may be the majority leader but he could well be toothless.

#3 - In spite of the spin of the establishment the Tea Party did pretty well - They had some notable losses (I was disappointed that Angle did not knock off Harry Reid - admittedly they were both weak candidates) but they also seemed to have won some important races.  Remember that six months ago the MSM was parroting some democrats and calling the Tea Party an "astroturf" grassroots movement.

#4 - California is absurdly different - They seem to have knocked out one incumbent democrat from Congress.  But they elected (for a third term which his father could not get) Jerry Brown.   He may not be as bad as he was three decades ago.  Whitman's campaign was horrible.  She had a strong case to make and blew it.   Californians elected a far left Attorney General.  They re-elected arguably the least able member of the US Senate.  They supported extending the role of the redistricting commission to our congressional delegation.  They turned down dope.  They rejected a parks fee and raised the vote requirements for fees to be adopted.  At the same time they reduced the threshold for approving a state budget.   But if the rest of the country was going RED - California stayed BLUE.

#5 - The mandate can be volatile and if the new members do not get it..... - One thing the election showed was that the voters are not in favor of a new expansionist government.  But I think they also will not be supporters of prancing and dancing that the GOP seemed to engage in before they were ousted.

Another thing I do not understand

Last night I went to the airport in Mexico City with a friend who was going to meet the Cardinal who was coming from Monterey.  His flight was delayed.  The flight was originally scheduled to land at 7 PM.  But by 7:58 the flight board had the following message regarding Aeromexico 931 from Monterey - A Tiempo (on time).  All of the other flights on the screen had landed but there it was 58 minutes late - and still expected to be on time.

The photo is from my phone and I took it in a hurry - but you get the idea.