Aug 23

Chilean Privatized Social Security Falling Apart

Michael HiltzikPromoters of privatizing the US Social Security system have never tired of holding up Chile’s privatized program as an example of how this can make workers rich. The trick is that they never ask ordinary Chilean workers and retirees how they feel about it.

That may be because they know what the answer would be. It was visible last month in the streets of the capital, Santiago, where crowds estimated at 100,000 to 200,000 marched to demand reform…

The Chilean program was promoted relentlessly by its creator, Jose Pinera, who got himself a sinecure at the Cato Institute out of the deal. From there he fed American conservatives’ fantasies of “an obvious free market solution that works,” he wrote for a Cato audience in 1997. (In that same article he declared that “America’s Social Security system will go bust in 2010.” Umm, no.) He boasted of how he single-handedly “decided to undertake a structural reform [of Chile’s bankrupt retirement system] that would solve the problem once and for all.” …

But the seams soon showed. The World Bank determined that fees charged by those favored investment firms consumed fully half the pension contributions of the average worker retiring in 2000. The government surplus disappeared, and those outsized stock market gains faded away.

A series of reforms of the reform followed. But not enough. Many workers can’t afford to pay the 10% minimum contribution, and others have been moved out of the system by a shift toward contract labor. The average pension for retirees is about $400 a month, Bloomberg reports, but 40% of retirees are getting less than $260.

—Michael Hiltzik
Chile’s Privatized Social Security System, Beloved by US Conservatives, Is Falling Apart

Aug 23

Why Trump Won? It Ain’t Rocket Science; It’s Social Psychology

Why Trump WonI don’t like to write about Trump because at base, I’m an academic. An academic without an academy, sure. But over time, I’ve found that I’m just not interested in discussing the little things. It’s kind of like in Reason, Faith, and Revolution. Terry Eagleton knows that most religious people hold ridiculous opinions, so he doesn’t talk about it. It’s fish in a barrel. He wants to aim higher. And I feel the same way about Donald Trump. He’s so obviously a nightmare, his latest proof doesn’t seem worth talking about. But I am still interested in the question of why Trump won the GOP primary.

Let me start by noting that I don’t think that, from a policy standpoint, Trump would be categorically different than other Republicans. His foreign policy might well be far better. This tax plan is worse, but after going through the House and Senate, his tax plan would turn out to be identical to whatever one would have been enacted under Ted Cruz, John Kasich, or Marco Rubio. On Social Security, Trump would be better. The one area where he might be worse is that his rhetoric might embolden his followers to commit acts of terrorism against various minority groups. But I tend to think these lazy cowards won’t be doing anything — especially if their savior Donald Trump is in command.

Another issue to consider is that it doesn’t much matter why Trump won. By the end, all the candidates were Donald Trump. They just weren’t as good at it. Look at Kasich! He has a notorious anger problem. Amanda Marcotte wrote an excellent article about him back in February where she ran down what a vile president he would make because of his racism, sexism, xenophobia, and demagoguery. So the GOP was going to nominate someone like Donald Trump because that’s what Republicans like.

The Eternal 25 Percent

But on the specifics, it isn’t a mystery why Trump won. There are always about 25% of the people who are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore. What they’re mad about is mostly unclear. The few Trump supporters I know are actually doing very well in an economic sense — far better than I’ve ever done. They remind me of rich people who are angry that they aren’t more rich. These people want more respect (or something) in the society. Of course, if they got it, they’d just be angry that it wasn’t enough.

Republicans smelled blood in the water in 2016. They thought this was their election. As a result, we got upwards of 20 candidates for president from them. Why Trump won was simply that he best spoke to these authoritarians who make up at least half the party.

There are roughly 25% of these people in the United States. I suspect the numbers are roughly the same in England and Germany and France. These people are, to put it bluntly, authoritarians. They want a strong leader. But they don’t want him (!) so much to get the fags, the coloreds, and the feminazis. They want an authoritarian leader because they want an ultimate authority to say that, yes, they are the right kind of people. They are the real Americans! And this has been the appeal of the entire Republican Party since Nixon.

This 25% of the population has always been there. Look back at Richard Hofstadter’s article The Paranoid Style in American Politics from 1964. This isn’t new. When the Tea Party sprang up, it annoyed me that the media talked about it like it was extraordinary (unlike any leftist movement, which they ignore unless they can’t possibly avoid it). Reporters were surprised when John Birch Society booths showed up at Tea Party events. I wasn’t.

Authoritarianism Is a Republican Problem

This authoritarianism is not confined exclusively to the Republican Party — but it mostly is. I recommend reading John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience. Without this 25% of the electorate, the GOP would be a regional party.

Republicans smelled blood in the water in 2016. They thought this was their election. As a result, we got upwards of 20 candidates for president from them. Why Trump won was simply that he best spoke to these authoritarians who make up at least half the party. They don’t care about policy. They care about having a president who will say that they are the chosen ones. All those other people are lesser. Round them up into camps? Not really necessary — but hardly out of the question.

Why Trump Won

Why Trump won? I think roughly 50% of the Republican Party base is flat out authoritarian. Another 40% have notable tendencies in that regard. In a crowded field, of course Trump would get about a third of the vote. And once it was clear no one could touch him, the rest fell in line.

It’s no mystery why Trump won.

Aug 22

What Is Worship? Herman Melville Has an Idea

Herman Melville - I Would Prefer Not ToI was a good Christian; born and bred in the bosom of the infallible Presbyterian Church. How then could I unite with this wild idolator in worshipping his piece of wood? But what is worship? thought I. Do you suppose now, Ishmael, that the magnanimous God of heaven and earth — pagans and all included — can possibly be jealous of an insignificant bit of black wood? Impossible! But what is worship? — to do the will of God — that is worship. And what is the will of God? — to do to my fellow man what I would have my fellow man to do to me — that is the will of God. Now, Queequeg is my fellow man. And what do I wish that this Queequeg would do to me? Why, unite with me in my particular Presbyterian form of worship. Consequently, I must then unite with him in his; ergo, I must turn idolator. So I kindled the shavings; helped prop up the innocent little idol; offered him burnt biscuit with Queequeg; salamed before him twice or thrice; kissed his nose; and that done, we undressed and went to bed, at peace with our own consciences and all the world.

—Herman Melville
Moby Dick

Aug 22

Jane Siberry’s This Girl I Know and the Bechdel Test

Jane Siberry - This Girl I Know - Bechdel TestLet’s get the hard part out of the way first: the Bechdel Test. It consists of three criteria for a work of fiction: it contains at least two female characters; they talk to each other at least once; and what they talk about is not a man. Now you would think that most fictional works would pass the Bechdel Test. But it is surprisingly rare. My first novel, for example, did not pass it.

I think of the Bechdel Test in a broader sense. I don’t think it should be limited to talking about “a man.” I think a conversation about men — how they suck, how they are seduced, whatever — should count. With this broader interpretation (because one could certainly see this as being implied), the situation is even worse.

The truth is, when I learned of the Bechdel Test, I was embarrassed. It’s not that I’m unaware that I have limitations when creating female characters. As much as I like woman, I’m pretty much a gnostic toward them. Certainly, from the age of 5 onward, I’ve felt that women knew things about the universe that I never will. (I still think it’s true and I think it is evolutionary and has to do with childbirth. Women create universes.) So women in my fiction tend to be dark and mysterious. I’m working on this, however.

“This Girl I Know”

But I was listening to Jane Siberry. I love the album, but I must admit to not paying attention to lyrics very much. That is until I pay a great deal of attention to them. The second song on the album is “This Girl I know.” It’s a conversation between two women. One of them says she is sick of being fat and that eventually she will do something about it. And the other is asking her why she doesn’t just do it now.

(There is also a typically Siberry touch of the other woman having a fight with people at another table. “Mind your own business, no, I don’t mean you; it’s the table over there; I think they think I’m being rude; I’m not being rude, I just want to know.”)

I thought it was interesting as I listened to it because it passed the Bechdel Test! But then we get to the bridge, and it all falls apart, “I’ll get some new clothes, I’ll change my style; I’ll cut my hair, I’ll meet a lot of men; I’ll have a lot of dates, I’ll discriminate.” Oh my, Bechdel Test fail!

It’s Not All Bechdel Test

But not everything is about the Bechdel Test. I do think it is a great tool for looking at how we think about women in our society. Obviously, women are better at transcending these prejudices than men. My friend Kristen McHenry’s first (thus far unpublished) novel, “Day Job Blues,” passes the test with such aggressiveness that one could be forgiven for thinking that was her intent. (It wasn’t.)

Although “This Girl I Know” fails the Bechdel Test in an almost classic way, it is still at core, a feminist song. Because the first woman does answer the question: she says she wouldn’t know what to do if a man thought she was “sexy or something.” And when we hear, “Am I supposed to throw away my career and hop into bed?”

Work and Sex

I think that does sum up a fundamental problem for women. For men, sexual politics work because men are seen as dominant on the issue of sex. So a corporate man who is attractive and “fit” has nothing to fear. But an attractive and “fit” woman seems nubile: someone you marry, not someone you promote. And as much as things have changed, that basic dynamic is still very much alive.

So the Bechdel Test isn’t all. One can critique sexual politics, even while failing it. And Jane Siberry does that in “This Girl I Know.”

Aug 21

Corey Robin on Conservatism’s Success

Corey Robin - Conservatism's SuccessBut as I argued at the conclusion of The Reactionary Mind, if conservatism is an inherently reactionary movement, the greatest threat to it will be its success. Once it defeats the movements it was launched to overcome — and those movements will change across time, which is why conservatism, despite being a consistently reactionary politics, will also change across time, in response to the movements it opposes — it loses its raison d’être.

Modern American conservatism, I’ve long held, has succeeded. It essentially destroyed the labor movement, which was, in conservatism’s most recent incarnation in response to the New Deal, its original enemy. It also successfully beat back the Black Freedom movement, which was its second enemy. And it was able to defang the feminist movement, its third enemy. While all these movements are still around — the labor movement, only barely — they don’t have the same traction and forward momentum they once did…

Trump is desperately trying to fashion a new reactionary politics out of the bits and pieces that are now left to it: a white nationalism that draws its animating energies from its hostility to a black president, immigration, and Islam. But the evidence is increasingly clear that that kind of politics simply does not possess enough appeal to propel him or any other similar candidate to the White House. Not, I would argue, because Trump is such a weak candidate (though clearly he is), but because these forces can’t supply the reactionary rationale for modern conservatism the way empowered and radicalized movements of workers, African Americans, and women once did.

It’s going to take a massive victory for the left — not at the polls but in the streets, as a comprehensive social movement of emancipation — for the right to recover its energy and animating purpose. Until that happens, the right might win an election here or there, but they’re essentially going to be in a free-fall.

Trump, in other words, is the least of the GOP’s problems.

—Corey Robin
Donald Trump Is the Least of the GOP’s Problems

Aug 21

Film Reviews and All That Jazz

All That Jazz - Film ReviewsI watched All That Jazz last night. I saw it in the theater in 1980. And I’ve seen in on video since then. I quite liked it when I first saw it, and my appreciation of it has only grown. But my memory of the time is that the film reviews weren’t that great.

The film reviews generally applauded much of the film — including the dance numbers. After all, it was a Bob Fosse film, and movie “critics” might not know much, but they do know enough to not knock Fosse on that score. But when it comes to films like All That Jazz, you can depend upon these hacks to be more interested in what they bring into the film than what’s up there on the screen.

Of course, now the film is a classic. It tends to happen. Over time, people are better able to see a film on its own terms. And even at the time, it was loved by more sophisticated film goers than the ombudsmen who call themselves critics. It shared the Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or with another great film, Kagemusha. And it did garner a lot of Academy Award nominations, but largely lost out to the tiresome Kramer vs Kramer.

I was curious to check out what film reviews said back then.

Film Reviews Then and Now

Wikipedia has an annoying tendency to include a lot of recent film reviews in its “Critical Reception” section. The new film reviews should be classified under “Critical Reputation.” Still, there is some information on the old reviews. The reception among “critics” at the time is pretty well summed up by this quote from Variety, “All That Jazz is a self-important, egomaniacal, wonderfully choreographed, often compelling film.”

But I was surprised to see that many of the more recent film reviews haven’t changed much. Leonard Maltin gave the film 2.5 starts out of 4 — an indication he doesn’t even think it’s good? He called it “self-indulgent” and “negative” and “buried in pretensions.” What?! All works of art are self-indulgent. Do they all have to be “positive”? And “buried in pretensions” is meaningless.

Did You Even Watch the Film?

However, for a perfect example of just how bad film reviews are, you can’t go wrong with with Time Out London. Back in 2008, they published a very brief review. Here is the last third of it:

Fellini-esque moments add little but pretension; and scenes of a real open-heart operation, alternating with footage of a symbolic Angel of Death in veil and white gloves, fail even in terms of the surreal.

I hate when people throw around Fellini to explain any kind of film structure that isn’t traditional. It isn’t accurate, although Fellini (along with countless other directors) clearly did influence Fosse. But it’s also unfair to Fellini. He was a lot more than and Amarcord. But leave that aside.

The end of the sentence is factually wrong: “scenes of a real open-heart operation, alternating with footage of a symbolic Angel of Death in veil and white gloves, fail even in terms of the surreal.” Such a sequence might well fail to be surreal. Of course, no such sequence is in the film. The surgery footage is intercut with the film producers discussing Joe Gideon’s possible death with their insurance company. The conclusion is that if Gideon dies, they will make a half million dollars. I don’t have a simple word for what Fosse was going for — “irony” is close — but “surreal” is not it.

Why Film Reviews Suck

The best film reviews generally reflect a single engaged viewing. Too many involve a distracted viewing. But film reviews like this are so front-loaded with opinions as to be journalistic malpractice. Whoever wrote the review (it has not byline) probably saw the film at some point — maybe when it was first out, 28 years before the review was written. It’s not fair to the film. And it’s not fair to the reader. But that’s what film reviews are all about.

Aug 20

Simon Wren-Lewis on Brexit-Trump Connection

Simon Wren-Lewis - Brexit-TrumpThis study that looked at Trump supporters has got quite a bit of publicity. Some have been surprised that “his supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relative high household incomes, and living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support.” They also tend to be a little older. Having looked at who voted for Brexit, I was not surprised.

The two clear explanatory variables for those who voted that the UK should leave the EU were education and age. Much has also been made of the fact that, other things equal, those from areas of the country that suffered from deindustrialization over the last 30 years tended to vote Leave, but there was no correlation with levels or rates of change of income. Nor is there any clear correlation between Brexit support and levels of immigration, again matching this study’s findings for Trump support…

Times of rapid economic and social change can leave large parts of society left behind, particularly if they are not equipped with the skills required to adapt. When incomes then stop growing, these groups long for things to be how they used to be (to “make America great again”). The most obvious manifestation of change is the prospect (not actuality) of living with different people and cultures: hence “taking back control” over immigration in the UK and building a wall in the US. What the Brexit vote showed is that when this fear of the new is combined with a protest over relative economic deprivation it can become a dangerous political force.

—Simon Wren-Lewis
Brexit and Trump Supporters

Aug 20

Work and the Edification of the Soul

Work: Boy Studying - Lewis Hine

A while back, I wrote about finding a play called MP3 that I had no memory of writing, Creation as a Spiritual Act. You can click over there if you want to get some idea of what it is about. But the main thing is that it is a kind of play that I’ve developed that I call “theatrical essays.” They are kitchen sink affairs, largely because I’m a kitchen sink kind of guy. They are vaudeville with a narrative. But most of all, they are the kinds of things that I want to see. They are a joy to work on.

So every night in bed, instead of reading, I’ve been working on the play. There are many problems with it. In particular, the structure is wrong. But as I’ve worked with it, I’ve realized that I would make it into a full-length play. It has been edifying. I feel like the process is making me a better a person. This is in distinct contrast with paying work that is, well, work. Like all workers, I am paid to make money for the company. In my case, it isn’t direct. If it were, the company would soon go out of business! But ultimately, what I’m involved in making is money.

I Like My Job

And I’m quite reasonably paid for my efforts in this regard. But I’ve been working just under 8 hours per day. Now I understand that doesn’t sound like a lot. But this is freelance work. I bill in 5 minute increments. I don’t bill for breaks. And I am constantly busy because there is always more work than I can get to. Finally, I do work that isn’t on the clock. In between those last two sentences, I noticed a writer was having a problem and I fixed it for them. That kind of stuff adds up, I’m sure.

I’m not complaining about work. I enjoy doing it and I’m good at it. It’s nice to be paid for something that you’re good at. And I work with interesting people. And all of that. But today it hit me, “I don’t have to work this much!” I don’t need much money. I have no children — no wife to speak of. What am I working so much for? Is it that I fear I won’t get any work if I cut back to 20 or 30 hours? I don’t think so. It is just habit. And it’s gotten out of hand.

The Bizarre Work I Find Edifying

To many people, I must seem strange. There’s Frankly Curious, a blog that I’m not really interested in monetizing. There are bizarre plays that wouldn’t appeal to traditional theatrical companies. (I do hope, though.) But these are the things that I like to do. I like to write. And I like to do it on my own terms. That’s why something like MP3 is so much more important to me than even Frankly Curious, because the blog format itself constrains me. But I’ve gotten away from it because my need for money evolved into something that really isn’t me.

I imagine myself as an engineer of a train. I go to work each day and I do my job. Trains are important. People need to drive trains. But I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of night and call the train yard to see if there were any trains that needed to be driven. And I wouldn’t work any more than I needed to in order to support my lifestyle. And I think I have to treat my real job like I would treat the train job.

Backing Away

It is a bit more difficult, of course. My great passion is similar to what I do at work. And there are joys at work — no question! I love it when I manage to edit something competent into something good. And the little straight writing I do is fun, because I only assign myself the stuff I think I alone can do. (I never claimed to be humble!) So, I feel the pull. But I think I’ve got to resist it.

There are plays to write and articles to publish and Don Quixote texts to compare and puppets to abuse and on and on. The business world will get on just fine with less of me. And my soul will get on much better with more of me.

Aug 19

All That Jazz and Death

All That JazzThank you! Thank you! Wonderful! Wonderful!

Folks! What can I tell you about my next guest? This cat allowed himself to be adored, but not loved. And his success in show business was matched by failure in his personal relationship bag. Now, that’s where he really bombed. And he came to believe that work, show business, love, his whole life, even himself and all that jazz, was bullshit. He became numero uno game player — to the point where he didn’t know where the games ended, and the reality began. Like, for this cat, the only reality — is death, man.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me lay on you a so-so entertainer, not much of a humanitarian, and this cat was never nobody’s friend. In his final appearance on the great stage of life — Uh, you can applaud if you want to. — Mr Joe Gideon!

—O’Connor Flood
In All That Jazz

Aug 19

Blue State Democrats Must Vote for Hillary Clinton

Frank Moraes - Californians for Hillary - Blue State DemocratsIt is nonsense to say,[1] “I’m a blue state Democrat, so I can vote my conscience!” Yet I don’t see people talking about this. Instead, I hear the argument that swing state Democrats must vote for Hillary Clinton, but blue state Democrats have a choice. None of us have a choice, even if we are silly enough to believe a Trump presidency will bring on the revolution.

I was a Bernie Sanders supporter in the primary. I donated to him. And I bought a shirt from him and wore it proudly. But I did not support Sanders because he was perfect. He wasn’t perfect. I’m much more a Jeremy Corbyn kind of guy (not that he’s perfect either), but I’m not a citizen of the UK. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary because he was the best alternative available to me.

Now I am (Like Bernie Sanders himself!) a Hillary Clinton supporter. I have donated to her, and as you can see on the right, I have bought a shirt from her. And I wear it proudly too.

Alternatives Not Choice!

Voting is not an act of personal expression! It’s not about making the voter feel morally superior like those idiots who drive around with bumper stickers, “Don’t blame me: I voted Libertarian!” I think it is best summed up by Guildenstern in Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, “At least we are presented with alternatives — but not choice!”

“At least we are presented with alternatives — but not choice!” —Guildenstern

Picking Jill Stein or Mickey Mouse in the general election means blue state Democrats (And red state Democrats!) can’t pick between Clinton and Trump. But those are the only alternatives. It simply isn’t the case that our electoral system makes Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, or anyone else an alternative. Change the system? Sign me up! But that will not happen before 8 November 2016. So the alternatives are Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Blue state Democrats can vote any way they want, of course. But if they think themselves morally superior because they don’t vote for Clinton, they are seriously deluded. We will know what they are: people who left to others the job of picking from the alternatives — people who saw no difference between Clinton and Trump.

Blue State Democrats T-Shirt

I think the shirt I’m wearing above is kind of ugly. I wouldn’t have bought the corresponding shirt if I lived in Florida — a swing state.

But I bought that shirt because I am in a bright blue state. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Clinton a 99.8% chance of winning the state. I’m pretty sure that makes it the bluest state in this election. So I got the shirt for the message: blue state Democrats for Hillary Clinton. Because my vote is not about making me feel better; it is about picking the best alternative for the country.

Swing state Democrats are obviously foolish if they don’t vote for Clinton. But blue state Democrats are too. We have no choice. We have two alternatives.

What About the Revolutionaries?

But what about the revolutionaries? The ones who think Trump will bring on the glorious revolution? They have no choice either! They must vote for Trump. If they really feel the only way forward is revolution and that the catastrophe of a Trump presidency is the way to get it, they must pick Trump. That’s just as true in Oklahoma (FiveThirtyEight gives Trump a 99.5% chance of winning) as anywhere else.

Two Alternatives — That’s All

Such Democrats are stupid and very, very ignorant of political science. They are also, luckily, rare. Any reasonable person must vote for Clinton. And that is just as true for blue state Democrats as anyone else.

[1] Great idea: if you live in a country with a parliamentary system! Otherwise: stupid idea!

Aug 18

More Conservative Sting Operations Go Wrong

Hillary Clinton - Conservative Sting OperationsA Clinton campaign official alleges that the women engaged in several efforts to entrap supporters. In one scheme, described by Clinton staff, a woman attempted to pass a cash donation to Clinton volunteers and interns. In another, a woman approached the campaign on Aug 19 and said both her parents had donated to Clinton the legal maximum of $2700 each and wanted to funnel an additional donation through their daughter, a violation of federal law. On Aug 13, a woman claiming to be Canadian approached another Clinton fellow to ask how to falsify an address for a campaign donation.

In another instance, a woman volunteering with the Clinton campaign on voter registration efforts in Iowa City returned to the campaign’s office in Des Moines and asked whether it was okay that she refuse to register people who don’t support Clinton, the campaign official said. The Clinton campaign maintains that its policy is to register all voters, regardless of their preference in candidates.

The women presented themselves as Allison Holmes, Jess Koski, and Jess Jones, according to the Clinton campaign, which collected names, email addresses, and phone numbers for the women. All gave the same phone number, which is listed on the website for the University of Minnesota-based Students for a Conservative Voice. Messages left at the number by TIME requesting comment were not returned.

—Zeke Miller
Clinton Campaign On Alert For Undercover Conservative Sting

Aug 18

New York, New York — New York District Tossups

There are three open seats in New York where neither party has an incumbent running for re-election. Each is considered a toss up. The funny thing is that all three have some interesting politics going on.

New York District Three (NY-03)

Oddly, Democrat Steve Israel decided to not run for re-election, even though the district is fairly Democratic and he would have won easily. Maybe he wants to become a full time comic writer.

For the general election it will be Thomas Suozzi on the Democratic side. He is a somewhat perennial candidate who has held elected office before as a county executive. But he also lost his last three races for governor and his re-election bid to the county executive position.

On the Republican side it is State Senator Jack Martins. He has led the way in filing bills that actually get passed. He also really, really hates taxes since most of his bills have to do with that.

The DCCC has already started crazy-gluing Trump to Jack Martins. So this is another seat that the implosion of the Trump Campaign is probably going to have a huge impact on. Martins did say back in May he would support Trump if elected. But as recently as 4 August he has not formally endorsed Trump.

In terms of money, Suozzi has a slight edge. But neither has a huge amount in their war chests. And they are expensive districts to run in, so it is unclear what the money will do for either one.

There is a Libertarian candidate, Michael McDermott, but it is unlikely he will do anything significant in the race.

New York District

New York District 19 (NY-19)

This race is going to fun. The district has gone for Obama twice, both times fairly decisively. But the retiring incumbent, Chris Gibson, is a Republican. So the district is considered a toss up.

On the Republican side, the winner of the primary was John Faso. In the 2006 Democratic wave election, he ran in the general election against Eliot Spitzer and lost. After that, he kind of fell off the radar. Instead of politics, he worked on things such as Autism Speaks, a program that helps kids with autism.

On the Democratic side, the primary winner was the fabulously named Zephyr Teachout. She is best known for running against Andrew Cuomo and getting a surprising 34% of the vote. In addition, she has been a big supporter of Occupy Wall Street and Bernie Sanders.

The fun thing about this race is that John Faso is using red baiting. This is at least a bit odd. Faso has said he supports Trump for President, even though he hasn’t endorsed him formally. But, of course, Trump and his campaign have a lot of ties to Russia.

I also found out today that a hedge fund billionaire has decided to spend a small sum of money against Teachout. Luckily Teachout seems to be one of the few people who can pull a Sanders off when it comes to fundraising and the national and state parties are willing to help her out. With a firm effort by Teachout, this may be a pick up.

New York District 22 (NY-22)

This race is not as wild as the other two. And it is the one New York district most likely to go Republican.

It went for the Republican candidates in the past couple of presidential elections even while being represented by a Democrat for ten years before redistricting. So it is possible that this is a pick up for the Democrats.

On the Democratic side is Kim Myers who is related to the Dick’s Sporting Goods family, but runs her own business. She also has been a member of the governing legislature for her county. So she has some experience running for office.

On the Republican side is Claudia Tenney. She is a state assembly member who endorsed Trump prior to her winning the primary. She was considered the underdog and pulled off a bit of an upset. Otherwise, she appears to be boilerplate Republican.

What is interesting about this race is this is a rare situation where a woman is running against another woman. Generally speaking, that doesn’t happen. Otherwise it is ye olde politics.

What Will Be the Outcomes of Each New York District?

I think these may all wind up being Democratic pickups. None of the three districts are heavily Republican, and this is shaping up to be a Democratic wave year based on how well Clinton is doing. She is taking steps to try to have a Democratic Congress to work with for at least the first two years (especially since she knows exactly what is going to happen if she doesn’t). The word is that the RNC is ignoring Trump and trying to salvage races like these.

So with that mess going on at the top on the Republican ticket, and the Democratic side working their tails off to avoid any losses, New York will be so blue it will be visible from space. And that will likely include each New York district discussed here.

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