Supreme Dark Money

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) gets into the impact of “dark money” on the Supreme Court. His introduction on 13 October is here or below, and important to see before you watch his 14 October follow-up here or below. Attention to the facts is why I am a Democrat.

13 October 2020

14 October 2020

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham scheduled a committee vote for 9 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, the morning of the last day of hearings.

Barrett’s nomination is expected to be brought up for a vote at that meeting and then delayed for a week, per committee rules to 22 October 2020.

Review the Rules

Rules

In all of our worlds (social, political, economic, biometric) we search for things considered necessary. We see closed doors, glass ceilings, and tables with no invitations. The good news is we have a set of new rules that could make change more positive.

Nikola Tesla

A way to develop answers to questions about change rest with the combination of several very new organizations such as the World Wide Web Foundation and some old scientists such as Nikola Tesla pictured (left). Both are excellent examples of learning and unlearning everything to begin every day differently than the day before. Pioneering access to information has always been available at the speed of light thanks to your hippocampus, but now it is a many-brain experience. We need new skills.

The first rule of knowledge is that it expands through the experience of frequency. The second is you control what you make recur. The third rule is books do not hold truth or meaning. Meaning is in people, and the truth is just outside your front door. Take a long looking walk every day.

These three rules draw a vital connection to the immensity of comparative change. Here is an example. It is a comparison of Nikola Tesla and Tim Berners-Lee. Here we find two people who looked just outside their door but managed to see the whole world. Just under a century ago, Nikola Tesla explored every aspect of energy he could imagine. Just a few decades ago (1989-1991) Tim Berners-Lee and others created the URL and HTML as a fast method for sharing and editing documents on a worldwide basis. There is a connection.

Tesla

I came across an examination of Tesla’s writings and interviews on the subject of the future at The Smithsonian. In Tesla’s vision, leaning to control the energy of everything will establish the recurrence of all things good. A movement to elect scientists instead of lawyers to leadership positions in the legislative branches of government has begun. In a 1935 Liberty Magazine article, Tesla was among those saw science the parent of law and writes,

Today the most civilized countries of the world spend a maximum of their income on war and a minimum on education. The twenty-first century will reverse this order. It will be more glorious to fight against ignorance than to die on the field of battle. The discovery of new scientific truth will be more important than the squabbles of diplomats. Even the newspapers of our own day are beginning to treat scientific discoveries and the creation of fresh philosophical concepts as news. The newspapers of the twenty-first century will give a mere ” stick ” in the back pages to accounts of crime or political controversies but will headline on the front pages the proclamation of a new scientific hypothesis.

Something Is Wrong

A century later, for every $100 paid in U.S. federal income tax, well over half of it still goes to the military in the 21st century. Something is wrong.

Tesla saw the ability of science to improve people in the same way law sought to protect. Called eugenics at the time, these discredited and immoral practices present a view of the world based on the distorted views of privileged white males and this has yet to change in a meaningful way. Nevertheless, the debate continues in a broad spectrum by manipulating DNA in thousands of lifeforms. CRISPR will continue to press for the inclusion of the human genome. It must be watched, something isn’t right.

Tesla recognized the lack of control over the waste machines create as he was a builder of them. He envisioned a national agency with the mission to prevent pollution (waste nothing) and regulate the discarded materials of production for the specific purpose of protecting the land, air, and water. The EPA did not form until 1970. President Nixon was in office. Something isn’t right, waste continues beyond reason and it includes human beings.

Tesla’s outlook on the energy requirements of the human diet eschewed all stimulants except alcohol. Perhaps he was like Mark Twain who said that “too much of anything is bad, but too much Scotch is rarely enough,” but he knew it was possible to provide “…enough wheat and wheat products to feed the entire world.” and he criticized the industrialization of animals for protein. He was a contemporary of Dr. Norman Borlaug.

Tesla recognized energy drawn from the burning of fossil fuels as wasteful and dangerous. The identification of global warming gases began in the 19th century. He saw clean energy, from sources such as water-power and the scientific preservation of natural resources would end the agonies of drought, forest fires, floods, and viral infestation. Federal Disaster Declarations have doubled and tripled since 1955. Something isn’t right.

Science proves Right

Tesla’s favorite work is in the invention of remotely controlled machines designed to automate production. He understood communication as wireless. In 1935, he said, “At this very moment scientists working in the laboratories of American universities are attempting to create what has been described as a thinking machine. In all of our worlds, for right or wrong, the only proof of communication is persuasion. Can a “thinking machine” isolate the wrong of a lie?

Image result for tim berners-lee
Tim Berners-Lee

In 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), formed as an international community devoted to developing open web standards. Tim Berners-Lee is the Director of W3C (2017). The question is direct. How well can this resource advance the frequencies of useful change that Tesla envisioned? In 2009, Berners-Lee formed The World Wide Web Foundation and began operations as an independent, international organization fighting for digital equality. It envisions the continuing implementation of an open web as a public good and a basic right. Its mission is to help build a world where everyone can access the web and use it to improve their lives. The internet community produced the following revolutionary ideas.

The Rules are Under Attack

In August 2020, the United States under the Trump Administration began to attack the idea of internet sovereignty in favor of an authoritarian view that would redefine the idea of free expression. The following principles of an open and free internet are therefore under attack.

  • Decentralization: No permission from a central authority to post anything on the web, there is no central controlling node, and so no single point of failure … and no “kill switch”! This also implies freedom from indiscriminate censorship and surveillance.
  • Non-discrimination: If I pay to connect to the internet with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can both communicate at the same level. This principle of equity is Net Neutrality.
  • Bubble-up design: Code is in full view of everyone (Ctrl/Shift/I) to encourage maximum participation and experimentation. All you have to do is right-click and select inspect.
  • Universality: For anyone to be able to publish anything on the web, all the computers involved have to speak the same languages to each other, no matter what different hardware people are using; where they live; or what cultural and political beliefs they have. In this way, the web breaks down silos while allowing diversity to flourish.
  • Consensus: For universal standards to work, everyone had to agree to use them. The achievement of consensus occurs by giving everyone a say in creating the standards, through a transparent, participatory process at W3C. The consensus to agree with everything, at least “somewhat” and a known degree.

Hypothesis

Two immediate suppositions are evident when comparing Tesla’s ideas (turn of the 20th) about the world’s future with what the World Wide Web now offers (turn of the 21st). The first insight reveals a public education policy at risk and the second is one big assumption. The risk is that a probable series of severe social, economic, and environmental events will increase and continue to occur as “chaos costs.” The assumption is the threat of these costs will lead to repression as if the cause/effect in this situation is a certainty. It is not.

A third observation is less reactionary. The documentation and implementation of two resilience strategies that will serve as benchmarks. For example, putting a global price on GHGs and focus that resource on investments in new energy solutions are arguments that can be won toward action in less than a decade. The reasonable deadline appears to be 2050 by most observers to achieve net-zero. It could be sooner.

If initial benchmarks establish firm roots, a path will become apparent on ways to improve our global selves with the aid of super useful “thinking machines” focused on facts and knowledge instead of death and war.

Envision a world where trust is about truth and not about machine ownership. Something is wrong. The internet is not a machine.

A responsive market approach can succeed. The value system accepts disruption in parts of the physical and emotional community, but not the spirit of people in the wake of that change. The infusion of world wide web values now offers decentralization, non-discrimination, a bottom-up design, super universality, and consensus. This is a compelling alternative to authoritarian rule. The rules are clear for building pathways to new physical realities. The implementation of one hellish set of trusted, tried and true algorithms remains along with the desire to go outside. Have a good, long look at the world. (Knowledge share link here).

CD Choice

Examine Your Lack of Choice

It has never been more important.

On June 26, 2018, the residents of the Ninth Congressional District had an opportunity to test leadership in Congress on criteria established by voters. Clarke won by a slim margin. Challenged again in 2020 she won again big time. Adem Bunkedekko was the closest rival, capturing 17% of the vote among four other bird-dogging candidates – all democrats.

Political leadership has gone to hell. New York leaders are useful when they respond to an urgent condition on a single issue. There is no outright fear for democracy, because better than most, they know it is practically gone. None of that is occurring. The only live-die-repeat is incumbency and the dead ones are the challengers.

Step One

Have a good long look at the candidates and their “watchers.” (See examples: Inside Elections, Sabato’s Crystal Ball.) Ballotpedia’s fine details are here. Money equals victory. A national watch group, Open Secrets has the data to prove it, including the outliers that illustrate exceptions. The deep end of the data pool is with reports at the New York State Board of Elections.

Leaders with skills in critical thinking, creativity, responsiveness, and obedience will do well. Proof of unselfish giving is through service that includes a record of judgments publicly specified with grace and dignity. After reviewing the public expressions of our federal leaders, are challenges within the party positive and optimistic? Does the officeholder or the challenger have a bias toward getting results? Finally, good leaders know how the practice of listening to be heard gets their constituents to help themselves do the hard stuff.

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Adem Bunkeddeko
He got more votes the second time, yet adding votes from the three additional not really serious, probably “bird-dog” candidates he would have still lost. Third time is the charm, I said. Off years are best. I hope a review of the loss will be written. Please drop the candidate a line at [email protected] and if you want to know more before you do that, visit Adem’s Website and extensive Facebook and Twitter accounts. He also has Instagram, and Snapchat if you must.  If snail mail is your thing you can write them to this mailing address: Friends of Adem, P.O. Box 130-427, Brooklyn, NY 11213.

Yvette Clarke
Drop the candidate a line on the federal website. She has Facebook  Twitter and YouTube accounts. To write via snail mail the local address, 222 Lenox Road, Suites 1 & 2 Brooklyn, NY 11226 and a D.C. address, 2351 Rayburn HOB, Washington D.C. 20515. I would be very surprised if you get an answer beyond stat and pat.

Step Two

The national Campaign Finance Institute confirms the long-term success of this legislation in its testimony to the NYC Campaign Finance Board in 2017. (The Act). After thirty years, the NYC CFB has protected voters. Perhaps the best example is NYC representatives sustain the “F” rating from the NRA in their demand for stringent legislation regarding the use and purchase of weapons for war. That is where the feds (your representatives in Congres) come into the picture to confront and confirm national policy.

In NYC the Campaign Finance Act has kept the local government on the side of working New Yorkers for the last three decades. A $6-to-$1 match of small donations turns a $100 donation into $700. The law has strict contribution limits and an outright ban on all corporate money and an excellent enforcement record.

Political Action Committees

The Political Action Committees (PAC) come into the picture today as a permanent part of federal election campaigns. They represent almost 40 percent of an elected candidate’s campaign funding. A challenger is far less likely to be supported by a PAC.  The PAC phenomenon began in the 1950s, but since then their corrosive influences over Congressional Representatives reflect the concentration of wealth in the U.S. and the rule that corporations have a right to political speech as people, and that money is speech.

Unlike people, wealthy corporations can live forever. Corporate outfits such as the NRA and the Koch brothers have a large bag of political tricks designed by well-paid political operatives to protect specific interests, not including the bot/troll issues that confuse voters further. It was a sign of real trouble when New York’s Senator Chuck Schumer asked his constituents to help fight against Koch Brother attack ads against a fellow Senator, Joe Donnelly (D) from Indiana with a help him Keep His Seat! email blast.

Representative Government, Election Waves, and Money
Three Republican Congressmembers (Faso, Tenney, Katco) in NYS may have “toss-up” elections in 2018. To keep things in perspective Faso’s 2016 spending was: $2,904,089, Tenney’s was $885,895, and Katco’s was $2,384,152. These races could contribute to a wave-election referendum on the chaos in the Executive Branch and the House of Representatives and shift as many as 25 seats to Democrats. (See NY Mag summary here). The 2018 mid-term election might have a single issue.

Peter King member of the Republican Party, is completing in his 14th term in Congress, having served since 1993 and he quits. Clarke has been their twelve years, and barely serves and runs on “good attendance” and perks from PACs.

Federal Committees of NY Senators

By way of Ballotpedia

Chuck Schumer is a Member of:
Joint Committee on the Library
Joint Committee on Printing
Committee on Intelligence (Select)
Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control

Kirsten Gillibrand is a Member of:
Committee on Aging (Special)
Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Committee on Armed Services
Committee on Environment & Public Works

THANKS FOR PICKING ONE AND FOLLOWING THE $$

Club Democrats

Take a look at all of the “political clubs” in Brooklyn.  Rarely are these outfits exposed as viable components of local leadership, merely those who have a detailed understanding of the inner workings, tips, and tricks of a Board of Elections system that needs to be Repealed and Replaced.

Congress Member for Life

Why did the founders make representatives every two years if we get them for life. I have a “legacy” representative in Congress with a “D” rating. So I supported an alternative candidate (Adem). I liked his candidacy for two congressional election cycles. He almost won the first time, got the “club” attention, and he got crushed the second time by an odd general consensus. An incumbent representative is the best option, or “hey, I might have a shot at this office”, leading to a primary election that is chock full of candidates. Either way, it is the ambiguity that assures the status quo.

There are nineteen political clubs in Brooklyn that attempt to decide what issues candidates can speak to with credibility. For the candidate, they will examine records of accomplishment of their opponent and coach on the hot buttons of the day (i.e., health care costs, immigration, DACA). The political clubs and their candidates are the up-from-the-grassroots owners of a process that makes the top-down discussion of congress members, senators, and judges come alive as constitutional actors. It is in these settings where ordinary people determine who runs and how. The analysis continues by district and office from local to federal that allows participants to compare incumbents to a challenger. But why are incumbents 98% successful in defeating possible challengers. Why is AOC the outlier? The answer is made obvious below. Review with the knowledge that there are over 300,000 registered voters in this CD9!

Why Does the Democratic Party Sustain Incumbency as a Priority? Is the System Broken?
JUNE 23 Primary 2020 – In Brooklyn, a Primary Win is a Win in November.

Four Candidates Assures IncumbencyVOTESPERCENT
Yvette Clarke (Incumbent)37,10662.3%
Adem Bunkeddeko10,64717.9%
Chaim Deutsch5,6229.4%
Isiah James5,5769.4%
100.00% of precincts reporting (532?/?532) (source)

Once the choice of candidates for a political office or a judicial appointment is complete and aimed at the next election cycle, the value of local issues in the form of votes is exposed. An incumbency win is therefore easily recognized as a big money win on the issues and far less so on the issues affecting people’s lives. What do you think about 50% of every dollar you pay in federal taxes is paid to the military people, but the medical and science people have to fight for scraps in the battle for the other half? Are the big-money interests dangerous? Are they looking out for you?

A candidate does not have to be rich to be a leader, but improving the grassroots knowledge of the problems of wealth, power and government is a starting point of high value on every question related to the quality of public life. The cash from a PAC and other significant funding sources compare directly with vote capture and the percentage of contribution from ordinary citizens and public matching remains a token.

The capacity of civic engagement to get results is being pushed toward, well-known as well as unexpected breaking points. The big paying interests only have one interest in mind — to keep the government as a predictable entity, not an honest one, or fair or even one that cares. With this level of power, it is not possible to see a difference between the availability of cake and day-old bread. That is the terror of it.

Two-Party? It is more like Six.

Republican Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Conservative Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Constantine Jean-Pierre Uncontested

Libertarian Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Gary Popkin Uncontested

Serve America Movement Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Joel Anabilah-Azumah Uncontested

Working Families Party Primary

Updated June 27, 2020

Candidate
Judith Goldiner Uncontested

Connect the Council

City Council

The New York City Council has 51 members with two-term limits of four years. The relationship between the city, the state and national government is complicated. A close examination of issues that confront the City Council Members should include those the state and federal government share. The focus here is on the eight members of the City Council’s Brooklyn Membership with interest in those with a relationship to the Ninth Congressional District.

Have a look at the financial data links and council links below.

District Member and Term Ends

39     Brad Lander  2021.
35     Laurie A. Cumbo 2021
40     Mathieu Eugene  2021
41     Alicka-Ampry-Samuel  2117
44     David G. Greenfield 2025
45     Farah N. Lewis  2025
46     Alan N. Maisel 2021
48     Chaim M. Deutsch 2021

Do they share issues and problem-solving?  It is challenging to tell.  Please help.

The City Council’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget provides a “show me the money” view.  It shows how and where discretionary funds are spent in City Council Districts which averages about $1 million per councilperson and the site below lists another $280 million in disbursements under the discretionary line that Councilmembers can take credit for on a Borough basis

 Have a look here: 
http://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2017/ https://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2018/ https://council.nyc.gov/budget/fy2019/

You get the picture.

On June 14, 2016, the Council authorized NYC’s FY2017 Budget, including record investments in youth, support for immigrant communities, and the strengthening of our City’s reserves.  At the bottom of the page above two other links can give citizen’s a way to explore the entire $80 Billion used to operate this great city.  Have a look.  Contribute you analysis or leads to the work of others as it affects your City Councilmember.

An excellent source of information and analysis is the Independent Budget Office.

Expense: 
https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Expense-Budget/mwzb-yiwb
Revenue: 
https://data.cityofnewyork.us/City-Government/Revenue-Budget-Financial-Plan-Exec-Adpt-Prel/ugzk-a6x4

Connect Senate


Connect Senate Members & CD9

NYS-63 Senators

The relationship of constituents to the State Government’s 63 members of the NY Senate can last a long time. They have two-year terms but there are no limits. This section seeks information that contributes to a better understanding of issues that confront our state representatives that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District.

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Senate Districts in CD9
  • In 2016 Senate District 17 voted for Trump.  Details are here.

Do they share issues and solve problems?  It is difficult to tell.

For example, an analysis by participants in an effort to reform the Brooklyn political machine came up with this analysis by the New Kings Democrats. Is your Senator working for you or not?

SDSenatorPartyOpen States
17Simcha FelderDemocraticBills Positions
18Martin Malave DilanDemocraticBills Positions
19Roxanne J. PersaudDemocraticBills Positions
20Jesse HamiltonDemocraticBills Positions
21Kevin S ParkerDemocraticBills Positions
22Martin J GoldenRepublicanBills Positions
25Velmanette MontgomeryDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Assembly

Assembly Members

NYS-151 Assembly Members
You know where you live.  Use the map and report your Assemblymember in the comment section below.  Before selecting your Assemblymember within the Ninth Congressional District take a moment to review: Session Four “How to Sustain the Resistance Long Term” presented by New York Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair, Michael Blake. Look for his talk at the Resistance School April 27, 2017 (HERE). Tweet @resist_school #resistanceschool #resist

41Helene WeinsteinDemocraticBills Positions
42Rodneyse BichotteDemocraticBills Positions
43Diana RichardsonWorking FamiliesBills Positions
44Robert CarrollDemocraticBills Positions
45Steven CymbrowitzDemocraticBills Positions
46Pamela HarrisDemocraticBills Positions
47William ColtonDemocraticBills Positions
48Dov HikindDemocraticBills Positions
49Peter Abbate Jr.DemocraticBills Positions
50Joseph LentolDemocraticBills Positions
51Felix OrtizDemocraticBills Positions
52Jo Anne SimonDemocraticBills Positions
53Maritza DavilaDemocraticBills Positions
54Erik DilanDemocraticBills Positions
55Latrice WalkerDemocraticBills Positions
56Tremaine WrightDemocraticBills Positions
57Walter MosleyDemocraticBills Positions
58N. Nick PerryDemocraticBills Positions
59Jaime WilliamsDemocraticBills Positions

Connect Community Districts

Seven Community Districts share the geography, interests, needs, and concerns of the Ninth Congressional District.  The map and links below seek participants.

Engaging residents the relationship local to federal money in community development dates to the 1950s with the formation of Community Planning Councils. The most recent change in this practice occurred in 1989 when the Charter Revision Commission changed the structure of City government and increased the role of Community Boards in the environmental and land-use review process that affects their communities. There are 59 Community Boards in NYC, and eighteen are in Brooklyn and a third of them are in Congressional District Nine.

Connect School Districts

There are three school districts that share a portion of the Ninth Congressional District. How will changes in Federal and therefore state and city policy affect schools in these districts? The objective would be to identify parents, the primary self-interest group.  There are not links (yet) to these constituents. The start of developing this idea is here: Office of Family and Community Engagement remembering one key element. The parent constituency is brief and overlaps rapidly in roughtly two groups of parents – those with kids in PreK-8 or High Schools. Just finding those taking the time to lead is difficult.

District 17, 18 and 22
Parent Leadership Schools: Parent Associations/Parent Teacher Association and School Leadership Team
Districtwide
Presidents’ Council, District Leadership Team or Community Education Council.
Citywide: Leadership in Citywide Education Councils, The Chancellor’s Parent Advisory Council and the Panel for Education Policy
Parent Leader Times
The Chancellor’s quarterly newsletter for Parent Leaders

SamplerII: Local

Below all of the posts that have a category “urban politics,” “CD 9,” and 2020 Elections.

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Need Facts?

When confronted with an obvious untruth you need facts, that is of course if you haven’t been talking with one of Paul Krugman’s zombies, an excellent book by the way.



Every voter has elevated emotional triggers because voting has changed from a handshake into an algorithm of who you are and what you think. The science used to manipulate the emotions of self-interest used to be “smallish” – found in neighborhood meetings, the coffee klatch, and rallies, cold-calls, canvasing with mail and leaflets. in hand. The activities led by these organizations of data feel reasonable and responsible.

We are entering worlds built of “new systems” that are without this kind of personal dispatch. Highly specific personal data drawn from media draws down the metadata of human behavior. The range of this data is vast from liking and disliking candidates on a scale brings the likelihood of staying home. All of the old simple “spoils” go to the big guys now and we knew who they were for a while, not so much anymore.

The kicker is if parsed it will show your zip code, county or state or whether there is a likelihood that you changed your hair color. The former is legal and latter, not so much without warrant that has your name on it. Even though I recently sent $10.48 to Hillary Clinton’s PAC “Stronger Together” just before 23 November 2017, I suspect that the PAC was not the only agency made aware of this action. The transfer from me to AmEx to Hillary entered easily, but lleft with a long list of portals with any number of windows attached, that you or I am unaware.

Efforts to achieve data results from the things we do build on formulas no ordinary person fully understands. The first warnings regarding the entrance of these activities into the American life are evident. Beware of triggering an American version of Article 50 (Brexit). I have no idea of what that might look like in the USA but I suggest beginning research on the activities of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) regarding all of the metadata associated with you and everyone you know. Here is the next kick. If you “half-agree” with my premise, are you more likely or less likely to use one of the following resources and attempt to get answers?

Fact CheckersDescription of the fact checking service
Snopes.comA proven and reliable debunker of false statements.
FactcheckAnnenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements.
PolitiFactThis site started in the early part of the 2008 presidential cycle
VerbatimExamines claims y elected officials, political appointees, and political candidates.
BallotPediaA professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections.
OpenSecretsTracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit.
TruthorFictionA mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet.  Lacks focus.
C-SPANHow to use the C-SPAN Video Library and different ways to search for content.

Election Districts

I have an interest in working for Adem so I’ve moved the d-base driven map to a “view only” link. That means it will become more strategic than the digital toy it has been up to now. If any of you have skills in this area let me know and read more below.

Doing more in connection to the political people that have power over billions of dollars for NYC and NYS means getting more people to pick their number ED polling place and get back to me. (Contact)

Request a link to enlarge this map, locate where you live, identify the name and location of the polling sites near your home. Vote in the 2020 Democratic Primary June 23, because at this point we need a real housing person (Adem), more lawyers and incumbents in Congress, less so.

Again: In locate where you live, identify the name and location of all the polling sites near your home just in case you feel like organizing more people especially if you are interested in a little canvassing party near where you live or work.

Use this Poll Site finder for a quick look for where you would vote based on your address and if there is an early voting location in the future. Ranked Choice is also in our future.

Brooklyn voters are electing new representatives to the United States Congress – they will be fighters, free of corporate domination and responsive to our needs in housing, health, and community economic development. Vote in the 2020 primary, and we will have a chance and all of our networks will fold into the other. There will be strength and resilience.

I recommend ADEM as the best candidate for the United States Congress. He is a quiet and thoughtful man not a political shill. Adem knows what it will take to get the national government to respond to the needs of cities. The national primary will occur on April 28, 2020. Vote, damn it! The Democratic Party Primary is June 23, 2020. (State Board of Elections Deadines)

Comment below and I’ll ask you to help by sharing your thoughts, stake out some election districts and put a person in The United States Congress that can do more than ride high percentages of incumbency into office based on our complacency.

Volunteer Here for the Ninth Congressional District

  1. Find Election Districts you can work and get your data.
  2. Go to the City Data Map HERE if the one above is difficult to use.
  3. Share that information using the form below and work the district for voters.
  4. Build a canvassing plan with us. Your polling place, and key nearby locations
  5. Find and motivate more people. The average in EDs is around 800 Dems.
  6. Get voters out on Primary Day. That is the election.
  7. Get voters to vote Tuesday, November 3, 2020 for the win back the Presidency!
  8. Develop a schedule to convince voters to vote —
  9. You can examine data from your census tract(s) (HERE)

Please drop us a line. Thanks to all who have already. I plan on working the Election Districts around the Erasmus H.S. and the transit stations (B & Q) from Church Avenue south through to the Cortelyou Station. Just waiting for someone to lead.

If you would like to see some AOC type energy for our part of New York – volunteer!!

Social Policy Politics

Two rules embedded in the culture of politics as sport say people get nothing without a “win,” and second people must protect themselves and others from what they want. The inherent contradictions of these two rules in the context of this summary comes from tweets by the Social Policy People (SPP), the Tax Accountability People (TAP) and the Fact Checking People (FCP).

The Sport of Social Policy Politics

The strategic nature of sport includes “the fake,” or “jukes,” and other team behaviors that overwhelm or confuse opponents. The remaining components of leadership needed to achieve a political end require a series of projects, guided by priorities and measured by the policy. Each project (or play) requires a full understanding of the resource implications of each effort and an evaluation scheme useful for producing adjustments, new strategies, projects, priorities, and policies.

June began with the Urban Institute’s (UI) promotion of the Fiscal Summit. One of the preliminary papers was on a fiscal policy entitled what if “Congress does nothing” (here) that describes the exponential growth in the debt neatly packaged for a takeover by the “other party.” At the end of June, UI Tweets took a look at the cities that make homelessness a crime and the increase in the demand for affordable housing.  The Urban Institute’s remaining concerns in June were many, such as the difficulty of lowering the cost of higher education.

The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP) focus on policies that hurt the most vulnerable. The argument this month looks at changes in the Official Poverty Measure proposed U.S. Office of Management and Budget that would increase the number of children and families in poverty enact a new poverty calculation that would underestimate the number of children living in poverty. They have a laser on the needs of the nation’s children. Why it such a difficult argument to win?

The Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation (MDRC) focused on how the tax policies (2017) are not benefiting distressed neighborhoods as promoted using the tools offered in the Opportunity Zone program.  June closed with the launch of a video (here) on a program in Detroit known as “The Promise Path from the What Works Media Project.

The Poverty, and Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) provides excellent summaries of research on structural inequality and gives means for disrupting systems that produce disadvantages for low-income people of color. Central to this point is their focus on solving the concentration of poverty problem with instruments such as housing choice vouchers. The NYC based Furman Center’s research on combining mobility with housing opportunities (2016) recognizes how making multiple choices within a whole community is a far more enriching set of means to escape disadvantage. June’s tweets point to a robust set of American blind spots for which answers are held easily with political will.

To get to the political will, the tweets of the Tax Accountability People may have the insight required to examine the “all for one and one for all” question that confronts America, and the fact that the public affairs of the country no longer appear public. For this reason, the Citizens for Tax Justiceand theInstitute on Taxation and Economic Policy do not support “free file programs” as it stands to entrench a corrupt system further. A second tweet points to an example. The manipulation of the tax code by just one company produced $4.3 Billion tax “dodge.” They also join in the criticism of Opportunity Zones as corporate welfare without the means to prove even a hint of benefits for working people.

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019).

The solution to the offshore economy problem is “beneficial ownership” legislation by those who recognize the snake has started to eat its tail using the fangs of anonymous shell companies with poisons affecting national security by promoting tax evasion and evading compliance. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) defines the problem (here) and presents the details via an Atlantic Council in an excellent (first hour) webcast on how the offshore corrupts the onshore (here).  The Dealing with the Offshore Economy is available (here) Added discussion on the subject is (here) among all of the Think Tank People (here).

The Taxpayers for Common Sense like to point to the ongoing absurdities as appropriations go final, examples are summer increase in ethanol fuel mixes, disaster aid drama and ideas like only farmers who actually farm should get ag bucks, and a long string of gives in taking resources (gold, silver, copper) from federal land royalty free. An observation attributed to Winston Churchill is popular among American politicians that we as a government will do the right thing, but only after examining all possible alternatives.

Journalism’s Heart Needs a Blue Check-mark

Throughout its history, the heart of journalism has been to double check the facts. The new services of the information age therefore offer a detection system for the “fake facts.” Journalists and the ordinarily curious now have over one-hundred outlets around the world exposing misstatements, inaccuracies, and lies. It may only be a matter of time before one of them is compromised. Still, these entities are screwing it up.  Here is how.

The cash flow is built on ad dollars, demanding our attention drawn to base instincts. It is what I and others call a path to the end of history. There is another way, it leads directly to leaders, and we need them to stop lying by ignoring those they lead yet pretending not to do so.

Aside from getting overextended at Snopes, the acquisition of “On The Issues” website will yield the instrumental analysis that agents from afar can bring to local affairs. Until the end of Snopes legal troubles, ads will be oppressive .If you can send them a couple of bucks.  In contrast, both Ballotpedia for candidate data and Open Secrets on the money trail yield ordinary decision-making help. An example is how corporate #pride support runs counter to the PACs they fund. Ballotpedia’s API is a vast storehouse of political information. Organizations of voters are free to explore its usefulness (here) and decide if a purchase of API keys adds insight.

The observation of media bias is the niche set by Fact Check is the focus on misleading and false claims. The best feature is the left side panel.  An example is a viral Facebook post claiming Congress gave itself exorbitant pay raises while cutting Social Security. The 2018 Players Guide reviews sources of TV ad cash, it annotates transcripts of statements made by POTUS45 and searches Facebook to debunk false stories among several other opportunities to get to specifics.

PolitiFact is famous for the “Pants on Fire” truth-o-meter, and Politifact NY pulls their banner to focus on the gaffs of local leaders such as the mayor and its senators to provide items of local interest.  It is essential to check both, one of the more interesting is how what looked like an AOC screengrab was, in fact, a parody account AOC Press Release (parody). Her real account has a “blue checkmark” that Twitter uses to indicate account authenticity.

Truth or Fiction also attempts to be instructive of the new media world. One element is to be wary of “text against a colorful background” without citation can spread toward viral. Examples are SCOTUS rulings, the killing of Christians by Muslims, or that HR1 provides for noncitizens voting.

“To remain an active, political actor with a moral compass and a backbone for change believe me when I say pick true leaders by becoming one yourself. Do it the best way you know how and be intelligent about leading and following. We do live in exciting times and be prepared to be so, knowing it to be the oath of 2016 to 2020.”

Rex L. Curry

That is June

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the organizations selected for the Tweet-O-Rama, and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May, (here) I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to have a look at politics as a sport, and as a practice that is now very different than the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, every one should and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Note “Hacking Corruption: Tech Tools to Fight Graft in the Americas” is also interesting from the Atlantic Council (May 30, 2019, Read the Publication as a PDF)

Political Waters

Jeff Goodell at Long Now Foundation

Goodell is a journalist focused on energy systems and climate change. At the end of his talk, Jeff Goodell was asked what he would do with $200 billion. His answer was surprising. He said he would spend it all on finding ways to improve the quality of political change and its ability to adapt to solving big long-term problems. He said we have the intelligence and capacity to deal with the problem of a constantly rising sea. Still, first, it must be recognized as daily and inevitable by our leadership. He adds this is a problem that will last for several centuries, so we might as well get started.  His full discussion of “The Water Will Come” is available at the Long Now Foundation.  His five main points are below. Buy “The Water Will Come.”

1. Gravity

Sea rise is like the existence of gravity. It is all around us; it is happening now every day. Like gravity, the increase in seawater is subtle, and it is a fixed part of the world because you cannot make water go away. All you can do is watch it get redistributed. In every locality, the hydrology of the rise will be unique. The conservation of matter remains the physical driving principal – added moisture in the atmosphere; the higher intensity in storm surges is part of a global system with a deep billion-year-old history.  The need for action to deal with sea-level rise and adapting to it is not physical. It is the hyper-political “not on my watch” principal. They are incompatible. What we can do today is the value to instill in leadership.

2. Rate of Change

The geological record covering billions of years shows 25 to 60 feet of sea-level rise is part of the system, leaving the central question’s time and rate. Jeff refers to Richard Alley as the world’s top ice analyst (climate scientist) who finds the rise of 15 feet by 2100 “is not out of the question.” The geological record also suggests the sea rise occurs in pulses, but the historical average is 13 feet per century. Huge unknowns remain. How will trillions of tons of water change the sea due to the catastrophic collapse of Antarctica? How big and fast questions will last for a century and vary in probable impact in places worldwide. Definitive answers to these questions drive political policy toward resilience. For example, the effect of climate change in the form of “storm surge” on the value of the coastal property is top on the list. The political response, on the other hand, is little more than a finger in the dike.

3. Value

Long before any individual city or region comes up with mitigation resources, the “troubles” will have spoken and measured in dollars. A part of the American culture is that it tends to leave the important things unsaid. For example, the coastal states are losing property value. People are selling (caveat emptor) and moving to get ahead of their sea rise fears following one experience: a sunny day flooding or a crushing surge in the ocean’s new normal. Others take advantage of generous publicly funded encouragements to sustain tax revenues with “move to the shore,” campaigns deemed essential to borrow long term financing for local “fixes” (higher roads, bigger dunes, pumps, and so on) and. In political words, what we have here is a capital mess with a Catch 22 attached.

4. Resilience is Now

There is no way to know what plan will work best or who will call for spending and take the win/lose leadership responsibility to protect against the impact of sea rise. Goodell has traveled the world and has seen brilliance and stupidity. Some jurisdictions pump the water from one place to another. Others raise buildings, but protecting a city is a very different problem. The who is in and outside a mitigation area screams substantial social justice issues on why protections planned for one locality are not in another. Resilience policies are in response to ongoing “chaos costs” because it is too late to achieve sustainable development for five main reasons outlined by Dennis Meadows over a decade ago.

  1. Public discourse has difficulty with subtle, conditional messages.
  2. Growth advocates change the justification for their paradigm rather than changing the paradigm itself.
  3. The global system is now far above its carrying capacity.
  4. We act as if technological change can substitute for social change.
  5. The time horizon of our current system is too short.

5. Why “Catastrophic” Resolution?

The business models used to treat climate change as an economic opportunity is often disguised by waiting for catastrophe. Nevertheless, there are places far less driven by profit-making than the quality of life that may be getting it right and doing so in a timely way.  Lagos is a floating place to live, others in the Netherlands and similar geographies find ways for the sea to take what it will. The re-building design for a flooding world is easily envisioned across the economic spectrum of engineering. Geo-engineering work will attempt to physically alter the atmosphere by buying time or opening Pandora’s box but will not stop the sea-level rise. The question “what now” will help regions know what to do, the skills exist, and get them. To get creativity from skill, it will be necessary to make climate change risks transparent to get the markets and governments to function.

What?

North America’s coastlines are urban, dense, and represent 80% of the nation’s GDP. From the islands of New York City to Virginia’s shipyards to the North and South Carolina beaches’ soft links and from Savannah to Miami, the sea is rising. From hot and sunny New Orleans, Louisiana to San Diego, California, and way up north to the cold and wet of Seattle, Washington, the sea is rising. It took three centuries to build this coastline, and this investment continues.

To sustain these economic giants as viable will require a new force capable of combining political will, economic genius, design, and engineering brilliance and bringing it to the forefront of our thinking. They are all unique urban environments requiring solutions specific to each place’s geology and hydrology, but they are all equally threatened. There are no “need to know” problems, only the need to make an effort. The alternative to a successful push for democratic transparency on these problems will be an authoritarian process that will choose winners and losers the way despots have always chosen.

9th Congressional Data

The data about the Ninth Congressional is very revealing, and worthy of spending the time to understand it by size, shape and its many places as defined by our representative to Congress.

The Ninth CD is the only one that is all in Brooklyn


CD9 & Stress

Exploring the following group of analysts will produce one of the more fascinating introductions to key indicators of economic stress. Have a good long look at the work of the EIG. It will give you an RTC. Put your zip code in the search box and for the Ninth Congressional District insert NY-9 in the map below.
In NYC, opportunities to become involved in innovation for economic recovery could be the Ninth Congressional District. Find people who have read Section Subchapter Z— Opportunity Zones in the Tax Reform Act.  (pdf is HERE)  Only 25% of CTs (defined as low-income can be nominated by the State.  NYC has several of these ‘zones’ from previous designations.  (EIG explanation).   If anyone has any insight into this EIG outfit, please share.

go ahead drop me a line or comment below:

Corruption

A look at the last few years in NYS to go forward.

“The examination of people that get swept-up in offering or receiving a corrupt benefit reminds me of the punchline in a joke describing a negotiating process.  ‘You and I have already decided what you are; now we’re just haggling about the price.” The “what you are” list that society would see eliminated with the threat of punishment and mitigation resources is compelling and long.”

Rex L. Curry

Embezzling, conspiracy, extortion, mail and wire fraud, bribe solicitation, tax-evasion, intentionally soliciting illegal campaign contributions and judicial extortion payments have all been committed by New York political leaders that includes theft of honest services, bribes and kickbacks, felony and a variety of misdemeanor charges. The results involve expelling leaders from office, hefty fines, and terms of imprisonment.

Most of those in the photo collage (above) did not commit a major crime. It is everyone since 2000. Of the forty-eight state political leaders arrested from 2000 to 2018, fourteen went to prison, less than one per year.  It is statistically embarrassing.  It is alarming due to the expected “high-bar” of public service but not out of line with bad human behavior in general. Over 18 years, troubles with the law affected fourteen Republicans and thirty-four Democrats and that represents a third of NYS lawmakers (source listing the crimes).

Seriously, How Bad Is It?

To make a comparison I pulled arrest data by state from Table 69 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report program (UCR) and culled it down somewhat roughly to executive/professional collar crimes.  Annually all arrests in New York State average in the area of 260,000 of which fraud and embezzlement make up about 7,000 arrests per year.

The idea that this is a “few bad apples” issue is wrong. Legislators (including staff) are hagglers in every aspect of their political lives. Those who get out of control and get caught end their careers in political life and much of their personal lives. None of us are saints, nor do we expect our political representative to be candidates for divine recognition.  What I (we, people) want is an aggressive public effort in the discovery of wrongdoing whenever there is a hint of it.

The concerns of an ordinary, reasonably thoughtful citizen are focused on the growing number of new ways our leaders are corruptible in today’s political climate. The front of the line has people (corporations) who want a part of the state’s $10-14 billion in capital budget spending or a few more campaign bucks, but today that line extends around the block and back ten years to Citizen’s United vs. FEC (SCOTUS pdf).

The New York State annual operating budget is approaching $180 billion, and it will make yearly capital investments between $11 to $14 billion (2020 Report pdf). New York City’s budget is approaching $100 billion and while it is a “creature of the state” a discussion of corruption and money requires a separate review that connects the metropolitan regions of the nation to the political process embedded in public benefit corporations that cross state boundaries. NYC’s creation of the Independent Budget Office (IBO) has proven itself to be a highly effective provider of fact in this regard. The New York state legislature is considering a similar option.

Well-funded investigation divisions in the local and state offices of the Attorney General, the Election Commission, the Controller and the FBI are institutions that citizens need to believe are doing their job well and with integrity. They cannot confirm the political honesty of all the people who seek to lead, but they can “follow the money,” and that is where a network of community-based and national advocacy groups plays an essential function if unbreaking our democracy is to get some local traction.

Essential Institutions

The Office of the Attorney General led by Letitia James (D) went from New York City’s Office of Public Advocate with a budget less than $4M budget to the AG’s $230M+ statewide operating budget. Drilling down into the role this office plays in preventing political corruption is on the public’s radar. A detailed look at the AGs responsibilities and resources is ongoing.

The New York State Comptroller is the State’s chief fiscal officer ensures that New York State and local governments use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently. It is the sole trustee of the $207.4 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund. An audit released March 31, 2018, revealed the fund as one of the largest institutional investors in the world. Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli issued an audit to find out if Empire State Development had met its statutory reporting requirements and revealed that between April 2012 and September 2016, 17 programs didn’t undergo mandatory, independent evaluations, and public reports weren’t issued on 12 programs that received more than $500 million in total funding. 

The New York State Board of Elections is responsible for the administration and enforcement of all laws relating to elections in New York State and operates with a budget of about $12M.  Another $41M is from legislation reauthorizing the BoE obligates expired budget authority through )reapportionment. The role of BoE will also be the subject of a detailed look at NYS through the lens offered by proposed legislative changes in voting practices and campaign financing at the city and state level.

The strategy of changing local laws to bring about national change begins in at the local level.  In New York, the citizens have the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.  The question is how well do the Laws of New York State legislature and the home rule work of NYC hold up against the demands for change by RepresentUs and the work of its NY Chapter. This link will lead to a report on JCOPE’s reports (here).

An argument for one other institutional analysis of political behavior (both APAs) or a private professional psychology or psychiatric team. As this review of NYS implies, it is not just the money, it is the power for imbalance that money represents. See the post Control vs. Balance for a look at control balance theory.

Examples Worthy of a Close Look                       

During policy and budget negotiations, the give and take practices of a healthy democracy are like fencing. Participants will thrust, and reprise, even produce a third intention.  Another often used metaphor is if not achieved after three attempts, punt.  Give the other side a try if you can get them in the game.

The most severe forms of corruption occur in the reverse of the authorized/allocated condition where funds are authorized in the sense that they will meet a need or support a project on which there is consensus, but the actors who seek the funds use a strategic means to secure the allocation. Understanding this fact is the best way to find the line in the sand that matters, it helps to separate political banter and partisanship from what is factually determined by standing authorizations and measured allocations to which the actors can be held accountable.

Since 2010 concerns regarding the economic recovery of Western New York were agreed to politically and based in Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo and the surrounding counties.   With “we have to do something” well established, a good analysis offered by the Citizen’s Budget Commission (CBC) finds the current NYS Budget in the areas of growth, and reductions by program reasonable but points out that steps to improve transparency and accountability continues to make outcomes obscure, see (10 Billion Reasons).

The following examples illustrate corruption as an agent of change at the state level. The dangers of attacking public institutional efforts to implement reforms are critical and should not be part of political dialogue unless it is an independent evaluation of excesses and errors. The bills the legislature state Senate has offered solutions that would prevent the condition in which New Yorkers find themselves.  It is your busted, “post-trauma” and catastrophic resolution policy ending in the prosecution of criminal intent.  That is not good enough here are two stepping across the line questions.

When a Corporation Controls a Market

The Cor Construction Company is a mid-sized, upstate development corporation that got greedy for a guarantee. Despite the bid-fixing controversy Cor still boasts of 50 employees and many large development projects and like a business remains interested in drawing on the NYS investment in their sector of the economy and in sections of the state that need more jobs and economic development. Just outside of Syracuse, Cor built an attractive building for $15 million in state funding. The project also resulted in the discovery of significant crimes, bid fixing, and bribery by company executives involving the participation of a top aide in the governor’s office and many others.

As the dust of litigants continues to settle, the state gave the building to a nonprofit corporation created by Onondaga County for one dollar. With about $2M in additional seed funds, the project became the Greater Syracuse Soundstage (GSS).  Not exactly Kaufman Studios, but it remains a capital investment that is not forgotten, it is in local hands, and the pressure to get a return on that investment the investment continues.  With more local control it is likely to be successful but slow.  Will the forgetful citizen of the state follow-up on this public investment?  Will the GSS succeed, create jobs, become an important new institution.  Who wants to follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?

When a Corporation Walks Away

The $90 million used to build the factory for the Soraa LED lighting company resulted in them leaving the deal with no penalty even though its developer was implicated in the bid fixing, bribery and wire fraud by the agent in charge of the project. Meanwhile, NYS added up to $15 million more so NexGen Power Systems, a semiconductor company, would retrofit and lease the plant, outside Syracuse. Lesson learned: in the new deal NexGen will repay $2.5 million if the company failed to create ten jobs in 2018 – it did.  Another $2.5 million will be due if it fails to employ 30 people by the end of 2019.  Another $2 million will be due if it fails to have 58 employees in 2020. Known as “clawbacks”, the company agrees to 290 jobs by 2024 measured in annual increments increases requiring $2M payments each of the next four years.  As in the case of criminal prosecution, the practice of assuring accountability or the lack of it stands with those who hold the clocks and triggers of fact. Will these targets be met or penalties assigned, who will follow that one, if it is you leave a reply?

In these two examples, and the slow appeals process only leaves names to follow to learn if punishment is a real deterrent – these are Alain Kaloyeros, Stephen Aiello and Joseph Gerardi, (Cor) and Louis Ciminelli, (LPCiminielli) and Joseph Percoco. All of whom are appealing prison terms. Also watch for Fort Schuyler Management Corp., a corporation created by SUNY Polytechnic Institute which oversaw the corruption-tainted projects regarding all the above.  It may be the reforms proposed will not occur unless the law provides its proof as a deterrent. at

When a Corporation Gets it Right

The Western part of NYS is economically depressed. Increased public spending demand falls on the shoulders of its local development agencies, and the state. In New York it is the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD) and its ten regional economic development councils. The state’s human capital investment arm is the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) system.  It also works with several community-based nonprofits partners which are asked to play a role or develop initiatives.   The two examples above were obvious screw-ups that need follow-up, but to sustain trust the CEO of Empire State Development will point to the positives Howard Zemsky — Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, (3,000 jobs) for $31 million in grants and tax incentives. He will also tell you private-sector jobs continue to grow in number in NYS and he’ll give EDC credit.  Should we? If you want to follow that one, leave a reply.

The ESD is a business. Of its $77M in annual operating budget (pdf) for 2020, just $9M is from NYS program specific budget appropriations, and some federal funding. The ESD runs on commercial receipts, its assets, fees and bond financing. As the NYS Controller recently observed, it may be a small agency, but its reach and economic power is considerable. Corruption can occur in an honest way, through stupid eagerness aimed at capturing fast moving capital. If the Great Recession of 2008 or the ridiculous excess of Wells Fargo and others is not a signal to this, then the world is going blind.

What Will NYS Legislators Do?

Three bills (S6613B, S3354, S3984A) to address this question are supported (see descriptions below plus a snowball).  They have passed the Senate, still await the Assembly and are not codified (Article VII) as law.  Briefly they:  1) create a “database of deals” on economic development, 2) establishes a unified economic development budget, and 3) reforms procurement by restoring the State Comptroller’s oversight of contracts made by SUNY and CUNY, and the state’s Office of General Services to heighten the quality of monitoring.

A unified economic development budget on the costs of all economic development programs is essential; the use of metrics for comparability across all programs would confirm benefits from private sector participation. All these steps can lead to program design improvements and the efficiency of public tax and capital expenditures.

The Senate is calling its passage ethical reforms historic.  The three to pay attention to is because they do not carry the force of law yet and there is a lot more left to do.  Voting reforms, and an independent redistricting agency ready to go following the 2020 census and so on.

The number of those who have strong interest in ethical reforms in the NYS legislature need to grow their numbers are few. A strategy toward “exponential” participation is needed. The question is direct. When will you know if and how any of the following reasonable ideas become law and have access to the final content?  Take one step, leave a reply to subscribe.

Developing a Searchable Subsidy Database S6613B

Sponsored by Senator Croci, requires the creation of a searchable state subsidy and economic development benefits database that would benefit New Yorkers and policymakers by helping monitor the use of taxpayer money used to grow our state’s economy and create jobs. The database would include the name and location of the participant; the period of received economic development benefits; the type of benefit received; the total number of employees at all sites of a project.   The number of jobs a participant is obligated to retain and create during the project is in the contract.  The number of economic development benefits received for the current reporting year; and a statement of compliance indicating if any other state agency has reduced, canceled or recaptured economic development benefits from a participant. 

New York State Procurement Integrity Act S3984A

Sponsored by Senator John DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse), prevents self-dealing in the government procurement process by enhancing the integrity, transparency, and accountability of the state’s procurement process. Historically, the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) has performed this essential oversight function, but in recent years OSC’s ability to do so has been eroded by executive and legislative action. The bill, called the New York State Procurement Integrity Act, would:

  • restore the state Comptroller’s independent oversight (eliminated in 2011 and 2012) of SUNY, CUNY, and OGS centralized contracts; 
  • expand the Comptroller’s oversight of the procurement process to include contracts over $1 million awarded by the SUNY Research Foundation; and 
  • prohibit state contracting through state-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities unless explicitly authorized in law;

Making Economic Data Available to Help Measure Effectiveness S3354

Sponsored Senator Liz Krueger (D, Manhattan), directs the state Division of the Budget (DOB) to prepare an annual Unified Economic Development budget that outlines the aggregate amounts of state investments in economic development projects statewide, the benefactors of these investments, and the number of jobs created or retained by businesses as a result of this development assistance. The legislation also standardizes the types of information that state entities and recipients of development assistance must report to DOB.

Lastly, there is this little snowball:

Creating an Independent Budget OfficeS2325

Sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome), Creates the New York State Independent Budget Office to provide objective, non-partisan analyses of state revenues, expenditures, and management practices to members of the Legislature for any legislation with fiscal impact or at the request of a leader or a committee. Accurate, up-to-date information is a key ingredient for prudent, timely budgetary and policy decisions. At least 23 other states including California, Texas, Florida, Connecticut and Vermont have already established non-partisan budget offices to assist their legislatures.

Oddly interesting that the New York City Independent Budget Office is not mentioned in the Senate’s description. It is a very valuable independent tool in relationship to the city’s massive OMB.

Help to find out what it will take to get these measures passed and signed by the Governor.  One more time — leave a reply.

Ranking Leaders

“Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) improves democratic participation for three reasons. First, it feels ethical and principled; second; it reduces conflict through majority rule by supporting more choice. Third, RCV supports a politics of joy and civil argument.  Finally, in a society that tends to leave the critical things unsaid, RCV is cheaper. It avoids the cost of close race run-offs and recounts. The second and third picks of voters remain choices and get used if none of the candidates get to the 50+% threshold. Democracies require consensus to function, and that means we can make choices on issues and for people to which we can agree to some extent. Ranking your options is a step in that direction.”

Rex L. Curry

Two party systems should become more sophisticated than a thumbs up or down decision with obvious limits in our ability to choose leaders. The ranking alternative not only expands the values inherent to voting; it encourages and builds new practices in leadership and encourages people who want to lead to find their way in politics. We should also never forget an idea in the United States Constitution that says we have to work for a perfect union. To this end, the popularity of RCV is significant. Given Maine’s experience presents one difficulty. The possibility of litigation and its cost. If there is pivot point to watch, that will be it.

Watching and reviewing the Maine experience will be useful in this regard as the practice is now settled law. With this precedent, it is the first state to use RCV, and the lessons here have been rewarding.  I would refer you to three articles presented in chronological order to illustrate the path taken, the questions asked and the lawsuits filed to get it done. The first article examines the prospect and examines its impact, the second article reviews the litigation on this legislation over the next year or two, and third, the actual practice of voting in Maine today as described by the League of Women Voters.  Praise the victories of suffrage. 

  1. Ranked Choice Voting: What’s in it for you? August 2016 (here)
  2. Maine’s Ranked-Choice Voting Experiment Continues November 2018 (here)
  3. How Does Ranked Voting Work (Main LWV website) (here) also see (cool video)

Watching the New York Experience begins by testimony on May 2nd or by write to the Charter Revision Commission to tell them to put RCV before voters on the November ballot. Ranked choice voting will advance voting practices as if it was the 21st Century.

Imagining a similar process for the voters of New York City as a creature of New York State is a daunting one, but this is one of those “fix-it-even-if-it-isn’t broke” ideas worthy of your efforts, sweat and I don’t think I’m nuts, blood for the bank, if necessary. Lowering the cost is the sane approach that calls for “instant run-offs” that takes into account a voters second and third choices. A bill in the New York City Council does that is (here),

Common Cause took up the mantle on RCV (here) and defined the issues as follows: voting as “the lesser of two evils” is part of the political value system and needs to change. Accepting the value of the majority vote win on the other hand is vital, today that is no longer true and that needs to change. The NYC Public Advocate’s win with 33% of the vote is a still win, but politically it can be used as a criticism. Ranked choice solves that problem by confirming the existence of voter confidence. Lastly, the overall downward pressure on the validity of the vote with algorithms allows political power brokers to ignore whole sections of he population and reduces elections to battleground states or neighborhoods.

The opportunity to make this happen is this year because the 2019 Charter Revision Commission is considering the placement of Ranked Choice Voting on the ballot by voters in November. The opportunity to show support will be in Borough hearings- locations and dates are TBA . The Commission’s website was launched 3 April. It is a bit difficult to navigate, but covers the bases well with links from “lists” to sections with more content.

They have two in-depth articles on the subject. The Tipping Point — The Impact of Candidate Field Size on Multi-Candidate Primaries in New York City 4/2019 and A Case for Ranked Choice Voting in New York City, 11/2018

The articles make sense, much of the critical thinking is complete, and it is top on the list of the commission’s voting reform proposals. The Charter Commission offers a look at what this revision of NYC’s voting system would be like:

Note

Let NY Vote that continues to enjoy many successful election reform campaigns At one time they included ranked-choice voting on its list of reforms and then the calendar item went 404 – files not found. (URL here). The priority of getting the vote in the hands of people from whom it has been taken is the current priority. Several political districts in upstate NY get to count the population of their prisons to determine the apportion public office, but this population is not allowed to vote.  If advocating for a ranked choice system of voting in NYC is less of a priority than work that increases voter participation in the process, I recommend attending their events.

Represent Us is putting this idea on there national list of victories and the New York Chapter is calling out all of their recent success and making sure the city’s representatives understand a the power of a very strong movement in the grassroots of every election district. The message is simple if you are in politics — pay really attention.

My Represent Us Story

The folks at Represent Us in local and state elections all over the United States present three major issues in Unbreaking America (above). Every once in a while people get their act so together that you know exactly why you have to do what you have to do. Watch it.

In 2018 When Indivisible established a network I did some homework on my political back yard. I conducted research and built some tools. I live in Brooklyn. I use the Ninth CD as a lens capture a view of local and state representatives. Take a look at it below. I am looking for some help for 2020, 2022, 2024.

What I Found

Represent Us is correct. Yvette D Clarke received 82% her of campaign contributions ($537,295) from outside her district. (Rank: 206 out of 421.) and she received 32% of campaign contributions ($211,772) from outside NYS. Source: the Center for Responsive Politics.

Who or what Clarke represents becomes a logical, honest question. RepresentUs asks this question of every single member of our city, state and federal legislature. Corruption can be removed only one way by the people.

Finding a new member of Congress. Clarke ranks 381st among the 435 in the House. She had estimated net worth of $115,502 in 2014. This is super important because the average net worth of a U.S. House of Representative is over $6 million (2014) despite the annual salary in the House is less than $200,000.

I took a look at every election district in the Ninth Congressional District (see NYC Election District Map here). I want you to use the location tool and share your ED with me if you live in the Ninth or know some one who does. In the 2018 primary I gave some friends and myself some instructions and tried to elect Adem as a replacement for only one reason. Change works. Clarke is still in office, but it was fun trying.

The proof came with AOC. New people with voter backing make a real difference because most incumbents have stopped paying attention to their districts and they tend toward complacency with a 98% re-election rate.

NYC’s Network of Election Districts

The table below describes registered voters by party in the Brooklyn’s Ninth Congressional District by status. The shock is in the number of voters it took to re-elect Clarke for yet another term in the tables that follow.


All Voters in the Ninth CD

Ninth CDDEMREPCONINDOtherTOTAL
Active275,79925,427 9557,35255,498365,031
Inactive 28,635 2,519 109 983 7,039 39,285
Total304,43427,9461,0648,33562,537404,316

New York City is a city of Democrats and Independents. It is the cities that make New York State blue. The Democratic Primary is the most important vote if a change is needed. When 10% of the people of the Ninth make that decision the Represent Us video above is frighteningly accurate.

All Who Voted in 2018 Primary

CandidatesVotes%
Yvette Clarke (incumbent)16,20253.0%
Adem Bunkeddeko14,35047.0%
Margin 1,8526.1%
750,000 People and 276,000 Registered Democrats

One More Thing

If you are interested in “working the Ninth for 2020” let me know with the reply option below. All the rest of the effort can be seen (here) in various, largely unedited narratives about the Ninth. A more detailed volunteer form is here. The tool I use takes the Ninth CD and links that to local and state representatives using the two menus below. This is far as I’ve gotten. It is a big job. Thanks for reading.

April 2019/2020

“The tweets on April 1, 2019, from the think tank people (TTP), are unlikely to be taking advantage, but I’ll leave that for you to judge. Many of the observation are through to the end of the month and new ones for 2020 are noted. I also recommend looking at the tweet rate as another algorithm worthy of observation, some are hourly, others one or two per day or week.  Others are once a month suggesting a grounded fear of jibber-jabber. Please enjoy the 2020 additions” 

Rex L. Curry

2019 Acton’s reaction to the world is “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” In the name of its founder it presents a combination of secular and religious overlays.  Acton offers a set of videos on the role of the Federal Reserve (before and after the Great Recession) on aggregate demand and the reserves of cash required. It is produced by the Marginal Revolution University.  Acton evaluation of socialism as a moral argument with economic flaws is a refreshing appraisal of the political din. A series of podcasts can take you to new insights in calm rational terms.

The 2020 Acton remain as consistently conservative critic of the status quo of anger over clear headed thinking. The lack of a level playing field on social media is criticized, but regulaton vs. innovation remains difficult to resolve. The provision of “texts for meditation” is a service worthy of enhanced civil dialogue.

In 2019 ,The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) bold tweets found Medicare quite popular in a recent poll. The count was 71% are in favor of a health insurance “guarantee” for all Americans, but 60% opposed if they had to pay for it. An attack on a GAO report based on the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, found “52 percent of households age 55 and older have no retirement savings in a “DC plan or IRA” however Factcheck.org described the tendency to leave the DC and IRA qualifier out. (source) Efforts to correct were also reported yet remained a whisper in comparison to the AEI attack on the GAO.  What happens when a nation’s institutions face subtle accusations of lying and time is spent baiting those who argue that some sections of the economy (health, education, transport) should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole for the good of whole?

2020 AEI  In an unusual bit of candor , pointed out how the representatives from blue cities and states expressed heightened concern about the virus, while representatives from red counties and states took little notice in a cold bit of political calculus. AE was among the first to join the cry of concern regarding arrival of an “economic crisis.” and they have been consistent critic of “America First” policy as internationally damaging. The AEI view on the humanitarian crisis was expressed by opposing a loosening sanctions on Iran.

The 2019 Aspen Institute opens with the idea that online activism is useful but insufficient if “Building America’s Next Great Awakening” is to be successful. Eric Liu clearly defines the push back against the dull odors of monopolized, institutional power willing to concentrate ineffectively on radical inequality.  Aspen recommends a review of his discussion of power (TED). Aspen is also about balance in its promotion of ways to sharpen our vision in a series of Business & Society podcasts launched this month (here). Swing over to the business integrity people (BIP) to see if the folks there will pick up on it after the official launch on the 18 April 2019.  If you need think-tank people (TTP) that have an interest in pushing the limits of every boundary to assure that your fear is not of change, but of loss.

See the Five Best ideas every day

2020 Aspen. For years they have assigned a team in partnering with TIME, to pull the five best new ideas every day from a long list of news sources. As far as the daily press is concerned, this is a reasoned selection and therefore a good editor’s pulse service.  March began as business usual, with interesting articles choices, but as April began, the virus was viral in the news and no different in Aspen’s best five. As far as ideas are concerned one out of five ain’t bad.

In 2019, anyone who has taken a glimpse at the enormity of American Defense Industry will find the Atlantic Council’s defense of democracy well validated in their celebration of NATO and its newest members hitting the ten-year mark (#Albania and #Croatia) while seeking to include Cyprus.  It is without surprise that NATO’s weighted connections and conference in D.C. this first week of April is entitled #NATOEngages to assure the alliance. The general pressure to increase spending as a percentage of GDP is having a destabilizing and disturbing effect on domestic affairs as expected. Following NATO, a strong interest in cyber security, engagement and sanctions is described.

The 2020 Atlantic Council view centered on cash. “What is clear is that, in a crisis, the Federal Reserve is the indispensable central bank. This is followed by serious worries in the governance of th EU in relation to a degraded NATO military. Another issue popular at the AC is the comparison with the Chinese state managed capitalism and the American decentralized approach. Specific stability concerns regarding the more authoritarian vs. the bubble up forms should turn directly to how these two designs will de-isolate individual countries, with high poverty rates and bad health infrastructure.

The 2019 Belfer Center is looking straight at Russia and China through the lens of the Pacific Rim. The growing complexity of “safety-critical technologies” in this vast region of the earth is an opening for a change in policy.  First, question the importance of the Middle East in comparison to threats to power caused by climate change on Pacific Rim nations. The center also enjoys its privileges and offers a wide range of important players in world affairs to sit and talk for the benefit of their students and faculty.  A link to Foreign Affairs offers one free article a week. If you are interested in foreign affairs, Belfer is a TTP stop.

The 2020 Belfrer set of tweets (April) is also a strong pulse center with retweets from other major interest and issue groups in the world. The selection is clear headed, multi-issue and thankful unsoaked in COVID-19 insights in multiple posts.

The 2019 Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) reaction to political pressures affecting “speech” within the university is direct. In response to President Trump’s Executive Order that pulled out the government’s big research funding stick they ask one question, “What is the litmus test?” Universities cannot model the current behavior in national politics; the idea of a government agency intervention to monitor compliance for funding is an insidious act. BPC mentions a leadership guide from Sanford Ungar (Free Speech Project) at Georgetown University.  His report “Informed and Engaged” describes the launch of the Free Speech Tracker.  Message at the Executive Order level have uneven qualities, while the search for instances and causes of incivility on university campuses is where the thinking caps belong. Solving students in debt, children in poverty, the people on opioids should be on the bipartisan-do list, but it feels doubtful.

For 2020, the exposure of outfits like AEI that encourage the use of misleading statistics and psuedo science to argue that social inequality is caused by genetic inferiority in society that is working very hard to eliminate discrimmination based on “groups.” In the tracker you can find a student made video in 2017 that shut down a Charles Murray talk, not to attack speech, but to stop fueling culture war the using bad science.

After a year of peeking into this group, you will fined it to be excellent on data sharing ideas, and insight into parlimentary proceedures that support compromise and growth in the use of those that do not.

I found the 2019 Brookings Institution (BI) focused on the “divided politics” situation as tribalism and turning to a description of Brexit as if it was a warning. Brookings also brought to our attention a survey of 93 leaders from government, NGOs, and others to share their view of global development. The title is Disrupted and points to fragile governments and climate change as principal sources for many policies going “tribal.”  The underlying premise is small groups can make significant changes, and that forces questions about the responsibility to make them good ones. A set of tweets that lead to improved understanding of what middle class means. April is a good month to spend some time with the TTP because of the focus on income, credit and taxes at their Center on Regulation and Markets.

The 2020 Brookings Institution is gearing up to produce a finally detailed cost of policy timeline analysis, while plans to measure the economic impacts over the next year. Communication is the foundation of lasting and useful facts. As a large public events organization you will find them at Apple: https://apple.co/2Q2jeFl  Google: https://bit.ly/2trN6mJ 
and Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2M6gMfW  The crunchers of the GDP will find parcing day toward the metroregions will capture 90% of the economic success iniatives and only 10% of the errors. This is a tough place as the political power might be elsewhere.

The 2019 Carnegie Council (CCEIA) serves as a judge of fact and includes an interest in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, blockchain technology, and cybersecurity.  The possibility of a revolution in network collaboration will require the vision of people such as Eric Liu and Sanford Ungar. There is a way to avoid the negatives in “tribalism” that forces the decline of democracy. Eric offers a stinging left jab, and Sanford follows with a hard right- cross. The simulated anger and the provoked loss of faith in long-standing public institutions can be proven.  Fund them just enough to fail on safety net issues in marginalized communities. 

In 2020, and early in March the Council said to Congress if you want to escape a recession – send people money now. The crisis peaked in April. Lesson from the Council – there is no fast action plan in the U.S. for anything other than war, but the White House is at war with itself.

The 2119 Carnegie Endowment (CEIP) direct emphasis on the voice of women in world affairs is having an impact.  Bill Burns article “The Lost Art of American Diplomacy” (here) describes the current disdain for its powers as a stimulus for rebuilding its “first resort” capacity.  Redefining diplomatic problems breaks the easy dependence on muscular military instruments with facts instead of political assertions used “to mask a pattern of retreat” designed to inflame aggression.

The 2020 Endowment took time and a variety of subtle tweets to point out that countries that do not handle an infectious disease well looses trust, become the subject of local to global propaganda and bad press in general.

The 2019 CATO Institute focuses on ways Medicare can control drug prices without a negative impact on the system overall.  A reasonable disruption for a “patients first” approach follows a long list of price hikes that are the product of monopolistic behaviors. Turning to a related point getting low congressional interest toward a high concern in patent reform suggests that CATO would pull out Bernie Sanders’s 2005 idea for the Medical Innovation Prize and break up big drug pharma with concessions on generics.

The task to turning down the rhetorical din into something the TTP can stomach was promoted in a tweet by CATO when Alex Nowrasteh’s Washington Post article on “patriotic correctness” vs. political correctness. It yields hope that we haven’t been driven quite mad by the “silly-stupidness” as a dear friend calls a lot of that right/left speak. 

The first 2020 Cato tweet that caught my eye was, “Tariffs in a Pandemic are Taxes on Livesaving Goods.” As most people who are hurt by a pandemic are low- and moderate-income in older urban areas, the benefits are still shared unevenly, and punitively in the case of a pandemic. Another irony is the complaint against misinformation on COVID-19, and the compaint under the heading of combating populism. Do I sense pandemic unity?

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) interest in disproportionality has a top example the demand by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee to fire its Chair, Adam Schiff is an “eye off the ball” problem and exhibits the shallowness of acceptable political behavior. Perhaps a name change is in order.  I suggest the Center for Snarky Security.  Beware of angry, but hungry TTP people.  

The Center for American Progress (CAP) honed the potential of emoluments violations because the House has the power to compel the IRS to release of Trump’s Tax returns. The Center shares an agenda item with the BPC in work needed to improve women’s labor force participation. Two problems require a solution to the quality of paid family leave and access to affordable childcare. The lack of both is part of the “war on workers.”  Brookings is on the same page under the heading of the pay gap.

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) sees expanded resettlement programs as a refugee issue to take the pressure off the perversely facilitated asylum backlog. The Department of Homeland Security is in disarray with southern border troubles. Is the wall-threat and lack of reform causing the crisis? Policies in favor of diversity have been evident since the 1960s; however, the lack of a powerful north/south relationship has weakened instead of strengthened since NAFTA was established.

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) exhibits the need for adaptable technologies in military hardware and brings up the historical “renewed great power competition” problem about the United States, China and Russia claim of sovereignty and believe other countries that are not great powers are not sovereign.  All kinds of cyberweaponry operated by new technologies re-opens the debate on the billions spent on “star-wars.”   

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CNPP) recognizes chipping away of safety net program funding in the Federal budget. Early in the month protecting SNAP (nutritional assistance) for vulnerable people is top on their list. The Center’s focus on state and local budgeting reports reduced the health care costs through caring society investments in education, income, food, housing, transit, and recreational support services are provided and encouraged.

The Claremont Institute (CI) claims to restore American principles as “originalists” as if the founders of the U.S. Constitution remain the preeminent experts over our national life.  Historical desires hold tightly to the past as a measure of our time centuries later.  It is difficult to read these arguments based on values by institutions that have not or refuse to read and confirm the truth of Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law,” B&N and who remain satisfied with jabs around the edges at the whiteness of that law.  Law made racism impossible to understand if you are white. It is impossible to recognize if you have never read or ever encouraged to read anything in the enormous body of work by Derrick Bell or the writer’s who stand on his shoulders such as Ta-Nehisi Coates. For centuries, cultural power is the only available tool, and because of that it is far too easily altered and appropriated without a clear set of goals. Thanks to Avik Roy’s retort to Bill Voegeli, on CI’s website those goals might find a scrap of common ground with the right. The voice Ta-Nehisi Coates is current, (here) and he offers firm ground because the U.S. has participated in reparations four times.

The Commonwealth Fund (CF) takes us to the daily battle for a healthy America. Their tweets are regular attacks on the role of health professionals who care for patients of modest income or those who are one crisis of poor care or one “surprise bill” away from full-blown poverty.  Just what America needs, a little more depression and anxiety on a bet-hedging that it won’t be too many of them or too weak to build guillotines.  

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) sends tweets on how globalization counts the ways to make the American worker more competitive by researching ways to get rid of unions and attacking the Kigali Amendment as a “job destroyer.” There is an unusual combination of politically conceived demands with crony-appeal and others that stand on more rational grounds. They need to choose.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) are impractical with the global map. It leaps to review every crisis affecting American hegemony. The Council also pointed out the top ten countries for women’s workforce equality and the United States is not on the list. You will find a comparison of other nations top-tier tax rates for comparison to those proposed by the 2020 Democrats. A detailed analysis of foreign aid for 2016 will be useful if it leads to 2020 comparisons. The UK’s only land border (after Brexit) is with Northern Ireland.  Is irony is back?  CFR point to an oddly similar border with Mexico as related security discussion that can put you in a world where Japan gets its groove back with some severe armament. Bottom line, a run through CFRs tweets can tease you into thinking that this institution is in total control.  Oh!

The Discovery Institute’s (DI) first tweet to my gaze talks about “pathological altruism” as one of the big awful things to discover.  They think they do good, but they know not.  DI is a wonderful break into the world of thought about problems instead of the ones “all of the above” seem to find. Every new second with DI is worth an hour everywhere else.  Columbia’s Earth Institute (EI) is next on the list in the current alphabetical order (that may require another form of organizing).  The EI tweets focus specifically on the next generation, also known as students and life-long learners for a welcome sense of hope. One promotion with the “New School” asks a simple question: How do we know what cannot be known?” Where else but for the next generation would you be presented with butterflies tasting the salty tears of rainforest turtles to discover the importance of the complexity that beats the heart of diversity.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) added to the idea that we should have a more rational “thinking about important stuff days.” I pick up something new about EPI’s constitutional questions in their tweets.  The demand a “more perfect union” during February is one of them.  February is a month of American history that has many important days related to the African-America experience.  April gets the ‘thinking day” attention of EPI on women rights regarding equal pay.  A Native-American gets .58, African-American and Latinas get 0.53, Asian 0.61 and White 0.77 of the $1.00 of white men. Overall, the “many” vs. the “one” debate requires the patriarchy to change in all these groups. In the name of perfecting our union, a routine injection of steps of fairness with the proof of balance defines equity, wages, skillsets and safety nets.   

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Center for Democracy and Technology, TechFreedom, Human Rights Watch and 34 others are demanding the reauthorization or Section 215 to end NSA’s phone data collection. 

The Brennan Center has the best summary of selected government surveillance programs (here).  Getting into this subject by looking at all the trees (felled, standing, old or sapling) will miss the new way the forest gets your attention. The digital forest, but like the old growth forest, it too can take something from you forcefully like a hungry bandit and offer you something you need or want at the same time. Trade began as a neighborhood/tribe thing, that became a village or city thing, then regional, national and global. Instead of looking into the old forest, there is a new digital forest that wants to look at you, your tribe, and place on the planet.  The moral authority function of human judgment is why humans build cities and turn forests into parks.  The time is now to look deeply into ourselves in cities, and to leave the old wood alone, revered as the place from which we came.

The work of the Freedom House think tank looks at the demand for human rights in places under threat of violence and works to protect these rights when won, yet far too easily lost.  The FH sees an erosion of democratic political environments and points to more than 2.5 billion people FH designates as “Not Free,” and more than a third of the earth’s population.  The number of “not free” is growing due to a decline in political rights and civil liberties. The Annual “Freedom in the World” report each year is getting more frightening.  In April, the concerns focus on Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia’s disconnect from the Internet.  The growing interest in ranking internet and digital rights exposes an inability to clarify how user information is secured and encapsulated or closed and contained in authoritarian regimes.  Expanding the Global Magnitsky Act as an accountability tool is appreciated by FH.

The Guttmacher Institute examination of global population issues and ideologically-driven political interference disrupts the professional connection between doctor and patient, lawyer and client.  These disruptions reduce the safety and dignity of these critical relationships and adversely affects a woman’s quality of life. The growth of blatantly unconstitutional and radical state-level laws aimed at a SCOTUS trial is a blatant money grab on settled law.  At the current federal level rules governing the national use of funds are coercive in intent and practices that assault on women’s access to reproductive health services especially if they are of low and moderate income.

Heartland Institute looks to free-market solutions to the social and economic problems in the United States. When over 90% of human issues, need and concerns are met by free-market solutions, it seems odd that attempts at getting into the 10% where it fails is threatening.  Most of the tweets are clear political shots when any entity does not see profit first and all other consequence second. The twitter-sphere tempts childishness, so it prompts you straight to their websites.  For example, a letter to POTUS45 seeks funding for a climate security commission as a voluntary offer to debunk science reports on climate change. Their interest in demonizing people with interest in Democratic Socialism is an equally deliberate attack on any attempt to reduce excesses in the free-market system.  It leaves one deaf to any other point as valid. Heartland needs a transplant, and a heart may not be enough. Facebook canceled their adds.

I suppose it is appropriate that the Heritage Foundation (HF) is next up in this alphabetical Tweet O-Rama of think tanks. Here you will find the narrative tones exalting the glory of capital markets. The wonders capital has brought to the world. What would we do without money to sustain whole new classes in newly enriching ways? Most of the tweets are useless jibes and retweets of the favored. Go to their website to get the strategy.   Under “Heritage’s Perspective” you will find a series of “read/listen more” teasers. I will summarize my first impression using the following, well-crafted, run-on sentence:

Of course, the transgender ban is logical, and if you have a hovercraft, gerrymandering would be much more fun along with the ability to take shots at Theresa May’s failure as a conservative within the confines of a robust pro-life agenda, and finally, college admissions are rigged, haven’t they always been so? 

The Hoover Institution (HI) is pleased to give me ten reasons by progressives shouldn’t hate POTUS45 and get this; they quote CNN. Here goes: 1) The economy, 2) not appalled by lies because 3) he’ll stop the socialists, 4) they believe his caring, empathic rhetoric, 5) he is the same at every rally, suit, tie hair and all, and 6) keeps trying to keep promises and goes against his party, 7) people see moves against a sitting president is all political BS and 8) media bias is clear.  The last three are reasonable ways to understand his loyal base,  8) it is the east and west coast vs. the hollowed-out interior that has grown to include battleground states, 9) despite everything “the family” is holding together and 10) he is a performer and entertains. Even looking at conservative sites will produce cross-over insights.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) attention is on the reconciliation efforts in Rwanda as a lens focused across the globe from Libya to Venezuela and on to specific concerns such as the 500th day since Azory Gwanda he “went missing” in Tanzania (#WhereIsAzory?”), and the secret Khashoggi murder trial and beatings in Nigeria and so on.  Malaysia decided to leave the ICC very quickly. HRW is livid with the cancelation of an ICC prosecutor’s visa. NGOs mag get a break from the Egyptian government. The triple bottom line utilizing “truth commission” practices yields a sliver of hope.

Common Ground Alert!

The Independent Institute has David J. Theroux’s magazine the Independent Review. Its messages have a unique California vantage point that puts the facts on the table and tries to make you think. As an example, in response to the recent POTUS45 request to make more room for a conservative speech on campus has this quote in its article.

“The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education found that in 2017, 39.6 percent of the 449 colleges it analyzed “maintain[ed] policies that seriously infringe[d] upon the free speech rights of students” (source).

A Republican, Ronald L. Trobridge wrote the article, noting it would be inappropriate and probably illegal to ask applicants applying for a teaching job if they were a conservative or liberal. The applicants want to be professors exploring ideas, not politicians. 

I find more progressives teaching because they have something to say.  Trobridge ends the article by saying it is OK if you fail and get a “D” in a class if “principles” are involved.  I wrote a paper that successfully delivered my views under the heading “democratic socialism” in a classroom (applause, request for more information, and so on). I was pulled into the faculty office and given that “D” myself.  I should preface that this was just after the assignation of John Kennedy. I remember how frightened, McCarthy-like frightened, the teacher seemed. Knowing pain has the potential for being self-inflicted, yet knowable and understandable is good. The alternative is to have that pain secretly imposed with malice and intent.

The Inter-American Dialogue has a laser focus on Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, and Haiti. One of those lasers looks at “remittances” as a significant largest source of financial assistance ($85B) moving from north to south Read IAD’s report #Remittances2018 here.  The overall energy company impression is best in the first few minutes from Lisa Viscidi (here) via Bloomberg and sharp on China in the region. 

The James Baker III Institute for Public Policy is all over Venezuela in the “let freedom ring” mode with VP Pence as the loudspeaker and for balance includes protests of Pence at Rice University. The rapid turnover in Trump’s high security positions became a central concern in mid-April.

The Kaiser Family Foundation aims at a healthier America and pushes to see the health problems of our lower income population as central to the reform effort of a national policy to eliminate bias.  One example of this is 90% of uninsured poor adults reside in the South.  The high cost of indigent care is very carefully tracked by going to the detail such as the 212% increase in deductibles woven into health care policy. Overall “health” remains a thread in the tweets of several of the tweeters in tanks. The focus on health is seen as an attack aimed at the drug cartel responsible for 1.9 million opioid addicted nonelderly adults is a “give” in the ongoing attack on the ACA. The general call for Medicare for All in the number of bills introduced can be examined (here).  April is a cruel month.

The Lexington Institute points to a major health problem, AKA war and in April – the need to defend against “hypersonic weapons.”  Fentanyl from China is not being well tracked or seized and like cyber – put in the context of an invasion. Pounding the table for continuous improvements in defense postures belongs to Lexington, from micro-tracking devices on everything to brand new B-21 Bombers circling the planet military reform is consistently cloaked in terms of modernization.  I believe in defense with a bid “D,” but try to find an economist looking at what happens when too much money chases too many goods?  The rich country answer is you get the acceleration of products fashioned, more than the military needs and then send it to police jurisdictions just in case of what – an invasion?

The Ludwig von Mises Institute (LMI) After calling out a civil war battle anniversary, the LMI attacks @AOC for her interest in “socializing the economy” by advancing arguments for a climate change strategy and a rapid reduction of fossil fuels because it makes no economic sense without a clear and largely unregulated role for private capital and property. Western economists promote fungibility and discount the negative role of entrepreneurs as minimal no matter the amount owned or how much or what we consume.  The flaw in this argument cannot be proven until it is too late for the mystery of “market correction” capital implements repairs.  Nevertheless, there are some useful arguments for their critique of the GND“ debunked.  Nevertheless, Tomas Piketty (summary) has a refined approach to the problem of vast patrimonial capitalism and the threat of an oligarchy.  One example is how the “estate tax” was renamed “death tax,” another is simple math CEO’s were paid 400 times more than the average paid to the American worker or average annual incomes of $12M to the CEO vs. $36,000 to the ordinary worker.

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (MIPR) work on post-industrial cities sees opportunity in a report by Aaron Renn through new ground planning while awaiting private market corrections.  There is a long list of a post-industrial urban center with under one million in a population that has lost 20% or more of its people from a previous peak. (DOWNLOAD PDF).  The mysteries of fungible capital became unavailable to these cities for putting a fix into municipal finances, reform or restructure dysfunctional institutions and rebuild public services. The MIPR has NYC recovery from a similar abandonment of capital as one of those “the bank is in trouble” solutions that provided for growth with fiscal discipline.  Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Saginaw, Danville, Johnstown and so on were not so lucky, and MIPR gets into the why and how.  There are no snipping in their tweets, just honest statements leading you to real thinkers and solid proposals.

The Mercatus Center at George Mason University has a broad approach. They are attracted to the economics of the housing crisis, immigration reform, the revival/survival of manufacturing, and the promotion of a book on “the corporation.”  Challenges to the federal debt level, the rise of right-wing terrorism,   

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) has the last word on the economic forces shaping the future of the world.  The use of their twitter feed is to announce working papers fed by the wealth of U.S. Census data on every aspect of American life from micro-marketing strategies and consumer response to mandated protection disclosures.  An interesting analysis of “patent trolls” by them and them in order to license them vs. use links to health and drug policies that hide the demand for larger generic markets.  NBER produces papers like a factory would include cars. There is something for everyone without a hint of political purpose.  The facts, just the facts.

The New America Foundation is similar in their “life is complex” approach to science and the art of political change.  The New American Weekly (Edition 243) produces the work of their “fellows” resident in NYC or LA.  They have a functional analysis of why the right wing got control of a swath of state capitals. 

On 18 April the New Democrat Network (NDN) asks its participants to do some background reading to gain an understanding of Trump and to have a discussion of their findings. The series of papers are swept under the heading of “patriotism and optimism.”  Their criticism of trade policy points out the general decline of manufacturing fear of change

The Open Society Foundation (OSF) lays it out as clearly as possible; the world needs care, hope, democratic climate action and continuous revelation on the meaning and purpose of equality. In all of these areas, the OSF works to lead by example and with others who do so with a healthy set of retweets from publishers such as The Guardian

The Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) would be wise not to repeat presidential threats unless until there is an actual implementation, then call it was it is.  Trade talk/war/talk and all of it on Mexico’s critical relationship to its northern border with very little attention paid to the south.  Economic nationalism in Chinese is like the German role in the EU State-owned companies in China, and sector-specific American interventions are hypocritical behaviors.  Central Bank control systems are in little trouble given “hyperinflation” flags fluttering in the breeze of a credit crunch.

The Public Policy Institute of California is a way, cool dude. They have a thing in April for retweeting the Maddy Institute reports on the 2020 Census and how immigration policy might get framed through the election.  Next, the next great drought will have less remote sensing data available due to USGS and NOAA cuts even though the water grid crisis continues to loom.

As a nonprofit, nonpartisan, organization the Rand Corporation is committed to the public interest and considered a trusted source for policy ideas and analysis. They would also admit a rise in the threat to communities all over the world likely to become less safe, secure, and healthy amidst the prosperous. Rand opened April up with a century-long review of the “political objectives of U.S. Military interventions and puts reduced success on “ambitiousness.”  Calling out Iran as a terrorist nation fits that bill. The next message somewhat ironically promotes SEL for social and emotional learning as a “measures” issue. They are delighted with the student achievement success of Principle Pipelines project. Military complex interests are in cyber currency and terrorism.  Billions needed to cover the cost of meeting California’s new 2030 Seismic standard in the contract. 

The Reason Foundation libertarian ideals separate themselves from the wing flapping left or right with a value system that remains adaptable to changing times if they lead to a limited federal government.  The logic of it is the states of the republic remain the leading laboratory for building a democracy.  The surprise is they find Pete Buttigieg, the “most interesting” Democrat. The challenge to the “qualified immunity” doctrine governing police behavior as “notorious,” and disagree over labeling in immigration policy.

The Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is one of many doing the thinking needed most by the thoughtful over the next decade.  Goals for the earth and energy for humans are becoming more critical and where else would you be able to discover “Rs 10.000-crore FAME-II scheme?”  Just in case you are an advocate for less jargon in the world – this is about India’s move to incentivize vehicle electrification. I ran a national community design center conference for several years.  The Pittsburgh Design center incentivized bicycling with a Pedal Pittsburgh Campaign.  RMI recently organized the screening of National Geographic’s documentary, Paris to Pittsburgh. RMI knows solutions to climate change will be implemented in cities, not the mountains.

The Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) work in social science research on inequality, the working-poor, immigration and economic behavior of the actors involved. Themes in education tie it together from the impact of information technologies on the contributions of individuals such as Brian Powell and James Rosenbaum.  Timothy Bartik was asked to respond to a new report from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) regarding the decline in the working-age population  expected through the 2020 Census. The report suggests a “heartland visa” immigration policy to replace losses in the area of the country where the reduction of working-age people is most pressing.

The thinking of people in the Third Way tank is ambitious center-left organization aiming its resources clean energy, education, health care, national security and the social policy and politics it will take for high-quality results in these areas. Their @TWPolitical feed is especially interesting as it examines challenges to the democratic party and examinations of the way the republic is collapsing and what can be done to save it in an author/speaker series.  April is about Michael Tomasky’s book on both subjects. Next on their priority list asks for the “fastest path to zero” and no one has to request the meaning of zero so that a good thing.

The Urban Institute (UI) continues to pound the table to get people to see cities as the answer.  The failure of political discourse in urban policy has required all institutions to seek a humanitarian response in the fight to sustain and establish the quality urban life of a diverse nation. This experience led UI to compile two extensive case studies by the Center on Nonprofits Philanthropy (CNP) the depth of the nonprofit housing and community-based development organizations in large cities have established a long list of innovations in social service programs by breaking glass ceilings and building capacity with proof.  In turning fifty, UI is taking the definition of knowledge as experience plus reflection by examining the bias built into the demand for transformations since 1965 Voting Right Act, the Higher Education Act 1968 and the Fair Housing Act comprising the core of the Great Society. If the next fifty years of America’s community development future from suburban to core centers is a concern, the answers about the courage required will be found in that history.

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars tips the balance of American hegemony in the sheer number of people attracted to this subject where a great deal is said, but results are elusive. The initial Wilson vision became focused in his honor – 1968.  They stand with Jefferson’s notion that an informed and active citizen can be trusted with their own government and this organization believes it is building tools for that citizenry to join the national conversation. The tweets generally promote local events, but for a fascinating archive of public policy history, the center’s “Sources and Methods” blog is an insightful look at today with each visit.  

It seems appropriate for the Worldwatch Institute to conclude this lengthy effort at a summary of America’s think tanks just for April. In contrast to the incessant attempt at understanding the complex communications of human, their institutions and nations, April opening tween asks us to think seriously about the ecological impact and minimal psychological benefits of pets, the number of shipping containers and other sources filling the global ocean with  everything from vintage Garfield phones to the micro-bead plastic you now consume with every bite from the sea.  The Institute handed the world its most significant economic challenge – come up with a way to assure human well-being and minimize consumption. The knowledge that an institution like “Black Friday/Cyber Monday” can devastate America’s climate future does not seem to help.  WI tweets carefully – one interesting lesson is the ability to quickly scroll down to their 2018 interest in altering the circular economy with the idea of “degrowth.”  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

On the Delivery of Quotidian Jeremiads

Loving the English language is not easy, but it is fun. The think tanks can lead you down some interesting new paths covered in rabbit-holes and a few Kool-Aid stands. With or without the consent of the Congress, the President of the United States can threaten many kinds of civilizational catastrophe. The election of the American President is not a routine political occurrence; it is the release of a specific set of prejudices plus immense power. The short history of the United States also exhibits the distribution of this power by wealth and its penchant for significant error inherent to inherited wealth.

Here is another think-tank thought stimulation. De facto segregation is a myth, racism is a created thing, and the proof of this is daily and routine. It is a quieter thing now, an experience like watching the minute hand on a classroom clock; the movement is subtle because patience for an exact moment of freedom grows thin and in the sweep of a second hand it comes and goes.  The depth of America’s diversity challenge should not be unfathomable for the joy of its existence. Yet, there are times when the quality of human discourse is pressed for improvement so hard, we barely notice (here) or here

On T.S. Eliot

The lesson in sharing Eliot’s literary genius is that it does not excuse his anti-Semitism. It complicates the reading of “The Wasteland” with feelings of unwanted complicity. We should be able to read and reread his best poems, see the beauty and wisdom without fear of his bigotry. The message includes caution and resistance to all those who would use hatred as a source of power in all political speech.

April is the cruelest month breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

These four lines capture a bit of the human soul, the reader wants to assign Eliot’s soul to a permanent place “beneath the rats” because his “icy dismissiveness” was assigned to an entire people. The reader’s judgment of his character is critical but not one I would assign to his tribe without the proof pulled from the heart of each member.

The March 2019 summary (here) introduced all the organizations selected for the Tweet-O-Rama, and the Random Tweet-O-Rama. The idea is to learn something from the wits from this vast new area of the blah blah world.  The April summary (here) examined the Think-Tank People. In May, (here) I looked at the organizations working to produce a good economy combined with voter rights organizations. With those thoughts in mind, it is logical to have a look at politics as a sport, and as a practice that is now very different than the role of leadership that it implies. Please enjoy June, every one should and then July (here) for a look at the one thing of great importance – housing (here)

Paradise and Panama Jitters

“Global finance has expanded without accountability. Good news though, the attempts to take down journalism as an agent of facts is failing. A network is lining up like dots across a landscape of searches for truth. It is sustained with anger, vengeance, honor and integrity and it looks to me like two things. First, the attacks are a “tell” that makes the managers of extreme wealth very unsafe poker players, and second the enormous flow of capital is producing a logic similar to that of a cancer cell.”

Rex L. Curry

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT) pointed its tweet readers to the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the problem of #AnonymousCompanies that hinder inquiries into political corruption and a long list of criminal enterprises (read testimony May 2019). To wonder why the FBI is under attack is to not understand the facts. See why we need more financial accountability people (here).

Face it, we have a bad case of the jitters. After all Wilbur Ross became the U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 2017 right after his name was in the release of 13.4 million documents known as the Paradise Papers in 2016. That leak came from an off-shore finance management legal firm Appleby containing the names of more than 120,000 people and companies that hide capital. I don’t know why Mr. Ross wants that particular position of power, but it gives me the jitters.

Before Paradise we had the Panama Papers. Remember? It became “news” following the “leak” of 11.5 million documents from another managing law firm – Mossack Fonseca, a team of journalists gathered to finish the work of John Doe who’s identity remains unknown. During the analysis of the data provided journalists (not government officials) have gathered world wide to develop a plan. Their work covered many months of classic journalistic practice prior to the release of newspaper stories designed to expose how billions of dollars were hidden killed from governments. A film summarizing their experience became available in March 2019.

The work to expose the cancerous practices of extreme wealth management continues. Given global conditions even the honestly gained wealth is managed without an interest in investment aimed at improving global conditions. Following the release of findings focused on public figures, the known investigators have been harassed, some killed, and others attacked with “alternative facts” and law suits.  When it takes ‘whistle blowers” to produce the momentum for reform be worried. The tale of two worlds requires the distasteful cleaning of the world’s corporate laundry. Forcing it out of these poorly managed financial machines may not occur until wealth becomes meaningless.

Need to Know List

An Essay for Tweets from the Left

The United States is composed of thousands of institutions and organizations drawn from the profound beliefs and principles of liberty outlined by The Founders. Since then the founding, the laws of protection for the growth of liberty and development of American principles have flourished. The continuous emergence of political organizations that seek to provide the best in human life for individuals has succeeded. In part, these efforts are defined as progressive or conservative, democrat, republican, libertarian, green, socialist, working family, and so on (see list below).  We live through these institutions and expect them to be dispositive of most problems given two provisions – civility in discourse and respect for facts.

American institutions focus on social and international justice, civil rights, and liberty in the context of human rights for all people. Many of them work to assure equal opportunity, good educations, environmental preservation, conservation, and human health advocacy. As they are plentiful and varied, their progeny continues to expand in the service of new constituencies who are emboldened to be free in a search of cultural change through art, science, and technology advancements. All these activities are constitutionally guaranteed. These institutions implement programs to produce predictable results that seek to hasten or slow social change processes, increase or reduce costs and protect local interests and specific assets held in private trust or on behalf of the public good. There is no hard proof that the physics of Newton’s laws of motion are in play in these processes, yet it feels as if a proof isn’t necessary for observing the many failings of power in the accelerated rate of change in which we find ourselves.

Reducing the hard punch capability of American hegemony has been difficult from the first use of the Atomic bomb all the way down to the colloquial definition of Americans as “people who buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.” This power to be free includes a capacity for hate and injustice that cannot be rationalized, only disliked, and deterred.

The belief of progressives and conservatives is that different worlds are possible. Both see the basics of air, water, land, and food as the most powerful natural resources on the earth, and once brought under the control of specific energy sources and industries, a sustainable environment is possible within an equitable economic system. In this system, only then can children be protected without wealth. Putting the force of these ideas in a global context redefines national security needs all the way down to a sense of personal safety best defined as freedom from fear. It is in a global realm of competitive protection political actors become irrational. The rise of evil forces, demonizing recalcitrant actors, or the outright taking of spoils through conflict raise the walls of ignorance.

What everyone knows is why political divisions form in the debate on a proposed action. The benefits of assigning specific public expenditures in a three-branch system of government are to sustain debate to correct errors of judgment in a changing world. One branch creates two sets of representatives from every aspect of American culture. Their job is to write laws, see to an evaluation of the implications of their implementation, and adjust accordingly.  When failures in this process occur, the legislative practice is further evaluated and judged in a federal court system. The nationally elected leaders are the President and Vice-President. The Executive Branch is the final arbiter of action subject to Congressional veto, public elections, and the Judicial Branch.

Human DNA survival mechanisms will distort self-protection behaviors (i.e. fight/flight) in social groupings and it does not exclude complex government power-sharing systems. Entire social structures build supports eager to give meaning and purpose to the human experience of power. Communication of spiritual and community values, movements for social change, and reflections on past movements all push for a wide range of cultural transformations. New theories of change form among the institutions confronting the need to adapt to new conditions of human interaction and natural events. If each initiative defines an outcome-driven process, a practice based on evidence for action and detailed performance measures undertaken routinely by trusted parties, no matter how or where the idea for change occurred or the credit needed, the results should be trusted. Time is the great judge of failure and success.

The task for staff is to find the counter punch organizations among the following largely progressive organizations. The primary mission is to get people to pay attention, express issues of concern, and vote on them in every election.  The list work got started with a project called START.

The Original START Study Guide is Here

For an excellent description of START, see “Acting in the Big Picture: New study guide builds on history, hope,” by Linda Pinkow, Dollars & Sense, Number 273, Nov/Dec 2007, p. 9. It was the inspiration for building the Tweet O-Rama pages found in the menu under The Synergy Project.s

The “tweet” is a way not to be distracted by the “big picture, we are all f’n doomed, so why bother problem or if you as rich as some of my friends, you plan, build and stock a $20 million hideaway, you know, just in case.

List 1: Electoral Politics Organizations

The major electoral categories on the progressive side are political parties, namely the Democratic, Working Family, Green, Labor, DSA, Socialist and the CCDS. A complement of state and local legislative groups is composed of BISC, SIX and Progress Now.

Democratic National Committee/Party

Works for job creation, equal pay, education, health care, and clean energy.

Working Families Party

A progressive political organization that sponsors candidates in 7 states and fights nationwide for an economy that works for all and a democracy in which every voice matter.

Green Party of the United States


Labor Party

A few democratic socialists advocate for a broad-based social revolution while predicting the possibility of an undemocratic and violent seizure of power by a single political party. As history repeats see blog attempt to hear or see if they might be right.

Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)

The largest socialist organization in the United States, and the principal U.S. affiliate of Socialist International. Extending political democracy to greater empowerment in the economy, in gender relations, and in culture.

Socialist Party (USA)

A political party of, by, and for working people, founded in June 1996 by delegates from hundreds of local and international unions as well as individual activists.

Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (CCDS)

The achievement of the socialist vision requires the production of wealth controlled by the people participating in a broadly framed democracy serving political and cultural life. I found a link to the Left University that offers many interesting resources (here). One of the best is the analysis by David Schweickart out of Loyola University below.

If only “the left” had the sound technicians as polished as those of TED and a few others.

In Sweden talking to a few students.

Think Tank People

“The Economist explains the role of think tanks as filling “the gap between academia and policy making.” I made a list for tweet scan to get a sense of that gap. It ain’t no gap – it’s a chasm, no an abyss.

The role of professional academic researchers move with the dedicated pace of a peer review and thus, very slowly. Journalists produce daily descriptions of events and are fast but not dispositive.

The job of a think tank is to make some sense of the day-to-day world over the course of a year or more and develop policies that make each day better than the one before. The good ones make the academic rigor of research as accessible a news story. The list below is not exhaustive and developed as a test using their twitter feed. Which of the following are most accessible?” Or, take a look at On Think Tanks.

Rex L. Curry

Acton Institute

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Lord John Acton (1834-1902). Acton seeks ways to articulate a vision of society that is both free and virtuous, the end of which is human flourishing.

American Enterprise Institute

Aspen Institute

Atlantic Council

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

Bipartisan Policy Center

Brookings Institution

Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Cato Institute

Libertarian and non-interventionist

Center for a New American Security

Center for American Progress

Center for Immigration Studies

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Claremont Institute

Commonwealth Fund

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Council on Foreign Relations

Discovery Institute

Earth Institute

Economic Policy Institute

Electronic Privacy Information Center

Freedom House

Guttmacher Institute

Heartland Institute

Heritage Foundation

Hoover Institution

Human Rights Watch

Independent Institute

Inter-American Dialogue

James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Kaiser Family Foundation

Lexington Institute

Ludwig von Mises Institute

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

National Bureau of Economic Research

New America Foundation

New Democrat Network

Open Society Foundation

Peterson Institute for International Economics

Public Policy Institute of California

RAND Corporation

Reason Foundation

Rocky Mountain Institute

The Russell Sage Foundation

Third Way

Urban Institute

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Worldwatch Institute

Tweet-O-Random

“The Twitter feeds below are a random selection tied to a large set of “feeds” in the Tweet O-Rama – a large list of watchdog, housing, accountability, consumer, tax, vote protecting, public policy and business integrity people. I make them available to myself for a fast review of the times, sort of a person am I thinking clearly, litmus test. The “keyword” programs that hunt down story trends are cold and grabby. I like to stroll through them for the sense of humanity that remains in the issues people seek to resolve.

I recommend scanning them regularly for what is relevant to them all from day-to-day. As a whole, Tweets represent a spectacular display of what is important to people in groups at the moment. They are not doing well, or maybe it’s just the moments that are not that good. Consider the following selection found in the randomness of tornados, hurricanes, floods, and fires.”

Rex L. Curry

Before you go to the list, first, know that all core documents, assumptions, and arguments that require more testing for data will dance like angels on the head of a pin and achieve nothing. We live in a world of catastrophic resolution (CR). Understand the practical misuse of argument in a diverse, divided country like ours is fully engaged in CR poof.

Garrett Harden’s 1960s thesis regarding the “tragedy of the commons” is true, but our innocent actions are no longer innocent. One balancing element might be the Creative Commons offer of a more open process. Nevertheless, even in the current mess we find ourselves in, observers can see some things with abundant clarity.

Change toward anything better will not work without mass mobilization toward specific tests at the community-based action level of change. Moving the argument from the “atmospheric gas” problem to practical issues under the heading of resilience will shift the argument toward those tests. Every planning director and political leader should be asking questions such as 1) How many homes will flood or burn, and where is it most likely now and in ten and twenty years? 2) Can this region or nation handle that number, and does it have a resilience plan?

Getting blown to pieces, flooded or burned out of a low-cost, no cellar home, then fleeing, returning, and repeating is not a plan. It is climate change roulette. Once the gamble is recognized as such, the questions can get smarter. Participants will look for efficiencies and redundancies in the food and water supply, the energy grid, the quality of emergency response, the replenishment of local mitigation budgets, and so on.

The spread of single-family buildings from huts to mansions across the American landscape is our energy reality. We live where we live. It was shaped by national policy and cannot be reinvented easily in the face of new challenges. The National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956 is a central part of why we live where we live.  The initial expenditure was $26 billion, today that would be $242 billion. The highway spread us. The act was designed in part to protect against the thermonuclear war. Still, it also produced enormous land development wealth, a cheap place to live for everyone post-WWII to the present, and automobile industries that became globally duplicated. An investment in the nation’s future, even for purposes of research on alternatives, is inconceivable today. Yet, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports the cost of severe weather and climate disasters to be $91 billion in 2018.

A self-criticism arose during the anti-war and civil rights movement of the 1960s youthful vision of the world. Progressive Americans had to do more than talk to the already convinced. Enough of them added walking that talks itself into new places of culture, economy, and outlook. Americans still need to mix it up because a similar problem remains today after well over a half-century. There are people to listen to and learn from regarding trustworthy improvements in the argument for a better future. Quality leadership remains easily accessible. There is a chance to sustain the vitality of sacrifice in confronting new challenges.

I like David Roberts at Vox on renewable energy, and Amy Harder of Axios is a favorite of mine on energy politics. Grist has Nathanael Johnson exploring, God help us nuclear energy and World Resources Institute offers the big picture with reasoned care.

The Random Tweets

The following tweets are written by people close to the ground who can be aware of tests for organizational, political, and technological changes that meet a local condition and prove a positive change. Feel free to add some. The well of ideas is plentiful. Finding the thread of principle that ties them into a thing called mobilization is the real task at hand. Have a look.

Axios

Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES)

Dani Rodrik’s Tweets

Dot Earth

Energy Institute at Haas

Environmental and Urban Economics

Environmental Economics

Jeff Goodell

In 2005 his book “The Water Will Come” would not be flying off the shelves around the world as they are in 2019.

Grasping Reality with Both Hands (Brad DeLong)

Greg Mankiw’s Blog

Grist

Harvard Environmental Economics Program

Jeffrey Frankel’s Blog

Larry Summer’s Blog

Long Now Foundation

Take a break — listen to the long term thinking people. Look for the Jeff Goodell presentation about his book “The Water Will Come.”

Making Sen$e | PBS NewsHour

National Bureau of Economic Research

Now This

Their production of Congressional hearing on why corruption is getting ripe in nearly every political venue starts with one interview and a unique analysis (here). For the rest of it, that is why we call this is the tweet-o-random.

Resources for the Future – Common Resources

The Conversation: Analysis, Research, News and Ideas

Vox

Catastrophic Resolution (CR)

Good for the City in Small Pieces

“Some years ago, and a year or so after the 9/11 disaster, I was standing near a conversation at a town hall session, when a constituent decried failing systems in service to the simple act of voting – long lines, ill-trained, confused poll workers, broken machines, deplorable participation rates, falling registrations, and so on.  The Senator, politely nodding said, “Little will happen on any of these issues until voting breaks down completely. Only if that happens can action with money be taken, in the meantime…” when the constituent interrupted and said, “But Senator, all the dots are in a row here,” it was like being slapped.”

Rex L. Curry

Photo © iStockphoto.com/Alvinge (Source Link)

The policy of catastrophic resolution is supported as a congressional decision-making model, and while reasonable in one sense, it has become a disease of denial regarding the value of prevention. Today, a variety of life-denying systems within the western economies are held by self-styled anthropophagus-like altruists whose logic would destroy the village to save it and who govern at an “arm’s length” with the help of psychopaths they put into public offices. They are not the oligarchs of old that hold the spoils of war. In their worlds, surrounded by the obsequious kindness of others, I believe many of them do not know what they do or have done to damage the future. The clutch of sycophants in their spheres quietly whisper in a gaggle of insistence, saying there is no need for decisive action on the unprovable loss of a single species, or global breakdowns in seasonal patterns that bring fire, drought, and thunderous waves from a rising global ocean or the searing heat across ever-widening dry plains. The policy of “no need without undeniable insistence,” must not occur.  There is a need for revolution and I think I have a sense where it might begin.

The synergy of dense urban living appears to create or at least support the rise of conditions that prevent damage to future generations as it defines and solves problems squarely ahead. It can be sloppy, however, most of the cycles of sloppiness are short, cover small geographic areas, because only parts of the systems that glue the city together fail at any one time. A city in constates of repair is a city with powerful expertise. When ancient, wood water main breaks, a sewer fails, a gas line leaks and an electric power loss occurs only a few people are affected and only for short periods because of compacity. A word that describes a lot of people nearby that know exactly what to do or how to get it done.

ConEdisons Outage Map shows the number of customers affected by location.
New York City’s “Outage Map” by Consolidated Edison
illustrates outages for 3.5 million customers by location.

If you in a dense area experience compacity by taking a walk for fifteen, twenty minutes in a reasonably straight line, make four right turns to get back where you started and you have probably walked a square mile. On average you have enclosed 30,000 to 80,000 people, miles of road, and thousands of homes. You will have come across multiple subway stations, several hundred, commercial retail, institutional service and public facilities such as schools, police and fire stations. All in a little over a one hour walk. Amazing.

The central and overriding responsibility of political leaders, as well as, public and private service agencies is to assist in the readiness of people to respond to problems of any kind or sign of trouble of any sort. They must know and understand this capacity as it represents the beating heart of NYC’s future. In every one of these enclosures whether it is a random square mile or any one of hundreds of neighborhoods the capacity for positive change is undeniable but it needs to be taught as a practical matter of citizenship, of what to do, or not do when the need for help is immediate or anticipated.

If or when a city’s potential for positive change or the need for occasionally rapid change is denied or obstructed it is readily recognized as a conflict against the humanity in the place where it occurs. The origins of the forces behind these life-defining conflicts may begin as “person-against -person,-nature, -self, -society, -technology or the raw unknown. These are not the elements of fictional narratives, they represent the day-to-day experiences of regular people. They produce these occurrences of conflict with relish in all things, from the simple exchange over the price of bread for currency to a course in high-school algebra for a grade. They are all things wrought by the compacity of urban life that are continuous and in many ways unrelenting.

In many places throughout the city, your walk would have included the observation of a highly diverse population, you would have heard many voices speaking combinations of familiar and unfamiliar words, your opportunity within this environment to purchase and consume your requirement for protein or clothing, a laugh or a smile is easily acquired. A twenty to thirty- minute train ride will take you to some of the world’s finest hospitals and universities, or to airports and trains to see far off places.

 

 

 

Fact Checking People

“Facts are things known that need to be proven as A word of caution ‘Believe none of what you read and only half of what you see’ to get better questions. The desire of “camps” is to communicate their messages first and facts second. Media advisers and psychologists find the proof of communication in persuasion leading to action. Whether millions votes or cans of beer that is the only proof needed, an ethical communications standard is not required. The friends of the “fact checking world” gives perspective and the ability to set your standards.”  

Rex L. Curry

Snopes.com        

A proven and reliable debunker of false statements

FactCheck                     

Dedicated to public education on media bias and deceptive news practices 

Annenberg Public Policy Center’s focus on political statements

Politi Fact           

Rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others in American politics

BallotPedia        

A professional encyclopedia of American politics and elections

Open Secrets      

Tracks money in U.S. politics – nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit

Truth or Fiction

A mishmash and hodgepodge of all the bull on the internet, but lacks focus