Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some Comments on the Election Results

Man, what a disaster. Turnout was the story, hands down. In New York, less than a third of registered voters actually voted. The reason may be quite simple: the man at the top of the Democratic ticket, Andrew Cuomo. He drew no enthusiasm from his base, so they didn't bother to show up. Cuomo's victory was underwhelming, to put it mildly. In the Capital District, for example, he carried only one county (Albany) and even then by only a 44-42 margin. Even more stunning is that at the same time Tom DiNapoli won the county by over 40 points. This was clearly a rebuke of Mr. Cuomo, his policies, and his methods (see: Moreland, LIPA, fracking study).

Cuomo's weak performance likely hurt Democrats running in congressional races down ballot. Lee Zeldin defeated incumbent Rep. Tim Bishop by almost 10 in the 1st district. Michael Grimm (despite indictment on 20 federal counts) easily beat his weak opponent in the 11th. Dan Maffei lost reelection in the 24th, a district that handily went for Obama in 2012. Most stunningly, Louise Slaughter is (as of this moment) barely holding on in the 25th, a district every commentator regarded as "Safe D".

But the real loser undoubtedly was the Working Families Party. For the most part, they got what they had coming to them. They nominated Cuomo in May (I was there). He did nothing but screw them over afterward. Now, they're relegated to row E for the next four years (their vote undermined in part by Cuomo's "Women's Equality" line). Even worse, the state senate fell into Republican hands outright. Democratic control of the senate was the whole point of endorsing Cuomo; he didn't deliver. The WFP's complaining after the fact seems awfully weak, considering that they knew (not should have known, but knew) that this was likely to happen. In other words. they dug their own grave

The real winner (well, besides the Republicans, obviously) was the Green Party. Howie Hawkins drew nearly 5% of the vote, many times over what he got in 2010. They drew double digits in several upstate counties (Tompkins - 16%, Albany - 13%, Columbia/Ulster - 11%, Otsego/Rensselaer 10%). The party will now occupy row C on the ballot. This despite limited campaign cash, little media attention, and only one debate. Moreover, Matt Funicello captured 11% in the 21st congressional district.

Nationally, it was a disastrous evening for Dems. They lost the Senate, not all that surprising but ugly nonetheless. Mark Pryor in Arkansas did worse than Brad Hutto in South Carolina. Mitch McConnell outperformed his 2008 marks. David Perdue avoided a runoff and won outright. Dems lost in Colorado, Iowa, and (most disappointingly) North Carolina. Virginia proved to be a nail-biter, and still isn't quite over. They're losing in Alaska, and likely to lose the runoff in Louisiana. Even Pat Roberts managed to win reelection by double-digits. A bloodbath most definitely.

The governors races, however, are what really proved shocking. It was thought that Democrats might pick up a seat or two; instead, they lost seats on home turf. Only dead-man-walking Tom Corbett (and perhaps Sean Parnell, to an independent) went down for the Reps. Meanwhile, Democrats lost not only Arkansas (a tough race to begin with) and Illinois (thanks to the extremely unpopular Pat Quinn), but also Maryland and Massachusetts, two open seat races in blue states. They lost to Tea Party wavers in Maine, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all states that twice went for Obama. Sam Brownback, who has completely wrecked the economy of Kansas, somehow won reelection despite trailing in almost every poll. Once promising targets like South Carolina and Georgia (where Nathan Deal avoided a runoff) proved to be duds. Even newly minted Texas Democratic superstar Wendy Davis underperformed her counterpart from Oklahoma! Even the races they won were unimpressive. Democratic candidates won only pluralities in Rhode Island, Oregon, and Vermont (where the legislature will have to vote to officially elect soon-to-be-former DGA-chair Peter Shumlin).The only real bright spots were that Democrats held on in Colorado and Connecticut, two very tough races indeed.

This was truly a "tornado" election. Republicans will almost certainly hold their largest House majority since the Herbert Hoover administration. As for state legislatures, Democrats will control their fewest since 1860 (!). Meanwhile, Republicans will likely set a record for the most seats they have ever held, as they picked up the lower chambers in WV, NV, MN, and NM (and perhaps CO and WA), along with the upper chambers of NV, NY, ME, CO, and WA (and tied WV). Dems also lost other crucial local and statewide races (perhaps none more important than the Secretary of State of Ohio, a key 2016 battleground).

The next few years will be very red (tea?) flavored indeed.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to Transform Society

The world is in a state of crisis. Warfare, epidemic, economic disaster, and impending climate catastrophe pose existential threats to societies around the globe. Something must be done. For too long, the people of this planet have waited for our political leaders to solve our problems for us. Now is the time for us to take matters into our own hands, to empower ourselves to make the necessary changes. 

To ask an age old question: what is to be done?

First, we must create alternative instituions in order to recreate society. Banks must be replaced by credit unions, supermarkets by farmers' markets. Workers' and consumers' cooperatives must replace the corporate model. Neighborhood and tenants' associations must be established. Political parties that represent our interests, not those of the corporate oligarchy, must be built. Students' unions must be created in schools to raise the voices of our young people. Creating these institutions will empower us to take further, more fundamentally transformative actions.

Among these would be to take control of existing institutions through the democratic process. I do not mean the US Congress or the White House, at least in the near-term. More immediately, we must win back those bodies closest to the people: school boards, city councils, town boards, and eventually state legislatures. From here we can enact direct changes in our own communities, instead of operating according to the directives of corporate party officials. Processes like participatory budgeting would empower people and encourage them to partake in the new civic process. We must break the cycle of cynicism that has justifiably gripped the people.

The ultimate step would be to overtake the entirety of the government of our country. This would allow for us to finally dismantle those institutions that serve only the corporate interest. From there we can implement policies both domestically and internationally to redistribute power back to the people. This, however, is a very final step, and can only be achieved once popular institutions have been established and lower entities controlled. This is governing from below, a nonviolent revolution that must realize the limitations as well as the values of the ballot box. In essence, we must "overgrow the government", not overthrow it. Only then can a truly participatory economic and political democracy be established.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New York State of Politics

Today's revelations by the New York Times regarding Governor Andrew Cuomo's interference with the Moreland Commission is not exactly surprising, but it has the potential to shake up the campaign for his reelection. As of now, this report can only strengthen the candidacies of Cuomo's three main challengers: Zephyr Teachout, who is running against Cuomo in the Democratic primary; Rob Astorino, the nominee of the Republican and Conservative parties; and Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee. All three campaigns issued statements earlier today condemning the Administration's actions, and Teachout is circulating a petition calling on Cuomo to resign.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 Midseason MLB Awards

American League

Most Valuable Player: Mike Trout, LAA
Cy Young Award: Felix Hernandez, SEA
Rookie of the Year: Masahiro Tanaka, NYY
Manager of the Year: Mike Scioscia, LAA
Reliever of the Year: Dellin Betances, NYY
Comeback Player of the Year: Phil Hughes, MIN
Hank Aaron Award: Mike Trout, LAA

National League

Most Valuable Player: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Cy Young Award: Adam Wainwright, STL
Rookie of the Year: Billy Hamilton, CIN
Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke, MIL
Reliever of the Year: Pat Neshek, STL
Comeback Player of the Year: Josh Beckett, LAD
Hank Aaron Award: Andrew McCutchen, PIT

2014 National League WAR-Stars

C: Jonathan Lucroy, MIL; Devin Mesoraco, CIN
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI; Matt Adams, STL
2B: Chase Utley, PHI; Dee Gordon, LAD
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL; Jhonny Peralta, STL
3B: Todd Frazier, CIN; Anthony Rendon, WSN; Pablo Sandoval, SFG;
      Matt Carpenter, STL
OF: Andrew McCutchen, PIT; Giancarlo Stanton, MIA; Jason Heyward, ATL;
      Carlos Gomez, MIL; Seth Smith; SDP; Yasiel Puig, LAD;
      Juan Lagares, NYM; A.J. Pollock, ARI; Marcell Ozuna, MIA;
      Hunter Pence, SFG
SP: Adam Wainwright, STL; Clayton Kershaw, LAD; Johnny Cueto, CIN;
      Jake Arrieta, CHC; Jason Hammel, CHC; Julio Teheran, ATL;
      Zack Greinke, LAD; Josh Beckett, LAD; Henderson Alvarez, MIA
RP: Jonathan Papelbon, PHI; Pat Neshek, STL; Rafael Soriano, WSN

2014 American League WAR-Stars

C: Salvador Perez, KCR; Yan Gomes, CLE
1B: Edwin Encarnacion, TOR; Brandon Moss, OAK
2B: Robinson Cano, SEA; Ian Kinsler, DET; Brian Dozier, MIN;
      Jose Altuve, HOU; Dustin Pedroia, BOS
SS: Erick Aybar, LAA; Alexei Ramirez, CHW
3B: Josh Donaldson, OAK; Kyle Seager, SEA; Adrian Beltre, TEX
OF: Mike Trout, LAA; Michael Brantley, CLE; Alex Gordon, KCR;
      Jose Bautista, TOR; Adam Jones, BAL; Desmond Jennings, TBR;
      Steve Pearce, BAL
DH: Victor Martinez, DET
SP: Felix Hernandez, SEA; Mark Buehrle, TOR; Masahiro Tanaka, NYY;
      Chris Sale, CHW; Garrett Richards, LAA; Max Scherzer, DET;
      Dallas Keuchel, HOU; Scott Kazmir, OAK; Yu Darvish, TEX
RP: Dellin Betances, NYY; Wade Davis, KCR; Koji Uehara, BOS

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My 2014 MLB All-Star Ballot

American League

C: Derek Norris, OAK, .309/.408/.509 (Leads AL catchers with 158 OPS+)
1B: Miguel Cabrera, DET, .311/.368/.542 (Would be Encarnacion if listed as 1B, w/ V-Mart at DH)
2B: Jose Altuve, HOU, .343/.383/.445 (Leads AL in average, hits, and steals)
SS: Alexei Ramirez, CHW, .294/.327/.421 (Aybar better by metrics, but can't beat Jeter)
3B: Josh Donaldson, OAK, .245/.325/.459 (Second in AL with 4.6 WAR)
OF: Mike Trout, LAA, .311/.405/.609 (Is this finally the year he wins the MVP?)
OF: Jose Bautista, TOR, .304/.431/.539 (Leads AL in walks and OBP)
OF: Michael Brantley, CLE, .312/.380/.500 (Top 5 in AL in Offensive WAR)
DH: Edwin Encarnacion, TOR, .281/.370/.603 (Leads MLB in homers, RBI and total bases)

National League

C: Jonathan Lucroy, MIL, .331/.399/.511 (Third in NL in batting WAR)
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, ARI, .305/.395/.536 (Leads NL in doubles and extra base hits)
2B: Daniel Murphy, NYM, .300/.351/.421 (Leads NL in hits with 104)
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL, .351/.443/.613 (Best hitter - and player - in baseball so far this season)
3B: Todd Frazier, CIN, .289/.356/.503 (Third in NL in homers, top 10 in steals)
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, MIA, .313/.412/.585 (Leads NL in homers, RBI and total bases)
OF: Andrew McCutchen, PIT, .313/.419/.519 (Reigning MVP leads NL in walks)
OF: Carlos Gomez, MIL, .306/.372/.516 (Top 10 in NL in WAR and OPS+)