March summary introduced all the organizations selected for the Tweet-O-Rama, and the Random Tweet-O-Rama to pull in the wits of the blah blah world.  April summarized the Think-Tank People. In May, 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.

The Sport of Politics

Politics, like sports, provides emotional benefits valued by observers and participants. The effectiveness of communication instruments in a sport is measured by how well a group of players mobilizes to achieve a goal and improve the efficacy of their actions at a specified time and place.  These actions can be for good or ill but always perceived as useful. Extending the hope that the efforts of one individual or nine ball players yield benefits to people can be defined by goals for a win or a loss, as fair or unfair, even ethical or corrupt.

Here are some examples. Food and rent subsidies are fair if preventing malnutrition, and stable housing is essential, but without use if the service concept impedes beneficiaries seeking a life without dependency. corrupt if The service becomes corrupt if denied or remains purposely undefined. Belief in changing this condition requires a political vision of “the one idea” that leads to an increase in the perceived value of “the many” working to sustain the achievement of specific objectives.

The strategic nature of sport includes “the fake,” or “jukes,” and other forces to overwhelm or confuse opponents and up to this point, entertainment and politics function with useful metaphors, but that is where it stops. 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.

Two Rules

Finally, there are two hidden (or embedded) rules in the culture of politics as sport. The people will get nothing unless it is sought out or demanded from one another and its elected leaders. The second rule is often ignored but far more critical. The people must protect themselves and others from what they want.

To put the inherent contradictions of these two rules in context, the June 2019 summary will examine tweets from the Social Policy People (SPP), the Tax Accountability People (TAP) and the Fact Checking People (FCP).

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

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)