Corruption Compelled?

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 have three major issues outlined 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. If you like you can take a look at it below. I am looking for some help for 2020.

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.

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

“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. The tweet rate is another algorithm worthy of use, some are hourly, others one or two per day or week.  Others are once a month suggesting a range of tweet policies.” 

Rex L. Curry

Acton’s reaction to the world is “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” with 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 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 when 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? 

The 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.

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 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 Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) reaction to political pressures affecting “speech” within the university is in its fabric. 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 insidious. 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.  The message at the Executive Order level has an uneven quality, while the search for instances and causes of incivility on university campuses is where our 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.

I found the 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 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 stimulated 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. 

The 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 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 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 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. What I remember was how frightened McCarthy frightened the teacher seemed and how good it feels today to know why. Knowing the pain we are about to experience has the potential for being self-inflicted, knowable, understandable is good. The alternative is to have that pain secretly imposed and with malice.

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.

Paradise and Panama Jitters

“Global finance has expanded without accountability and parallel attempts to take down journalism as an agent of facts is failing. A network is lined up like dots across our landscape in searches for truth, but it also continues with anger and vengeance instead of honor and integrity. To me it looks like two things. First, the attacks are a “tell” that makes the managers of extreme wealth very safe poker players, and second the enormous flow of capital has produced a condition similar to the behavior of a cancer.”

Rex L. Curry

Face it all we really have is 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 we should all be worried as we monitor this tale of two worlds. The distasteful cleaning of the the world’s corporate laundry needs to be forced out of these poorly managed financial closets.

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 has 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 a 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 proof isn’t necessary for observing the many failings if 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. 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.