Sunday, August 6, 2017

Defining the Swamp

The Swamp can be defined in simple terms. The Swamp has always been there. What is important is how egregious and detrimental the Swamp has become.

Private interests versus public interests
In our democracy, the voters elect their lawmakers, and the lawmakers are supposed to serve the interests of their constituencies.

Most particularly the lawmakers are not supposed to put their private interests ahead of the interests of their constituencies.

Lawmakers are human beings and have private interests like all human beings, including desires for money, power, social standing, sex, esteem, and recognition.

Lawmakers are constantly in circumstances in which they can advance their private interests at the expense of the interests of their constituents.

Sometimes there are competing interests within a lawmaker's constituency, and a lawmaker may be confronted with having to vote in favor of the interest of one group and against the interest of another group. This is not in and of itself swampy, but it can be swampy if the lawmaker's private interests are played on by a group to get the lawmaker to favor the group.

The public seeks to have safeguards that protect against lawmakers acting to serve their private interests ahead of the public interest.

One safeguard is to limit or prohibit lawmakers from having commercial interests which can be affected favorably by how a lawmaker votes or by other action the lawmaker takes in his official capacity.  While it is not impossible for a lawmaker in a conflict of interest situation to put the public interest ahead of his or her private interest, that is a hard thing to know for sure about, and the safeguard tool of limiting or prohibiting conflicts of interest is a prophylactic measure so that a conflict of interest does not exist.

"Transparency" is also extremely helpful to enable the public to protect itself against lawmakers choosing to advance their private interests at the expense of the public interest.

The Swamp
The safeguards the public has are very inadequate.

One realm of great inadequacy currently is that of campaign finance.

Politicians have great personal desires to win elections and stay in office, and this frequently outweighs the motivation to serve the public interest.

The current reality is that it takes a great deal of money to conduct a political election campaign, there are big donors and small donors, and a politician is at great risk of getting large donations from big donors in exchange for being willing to do things the large donors want.

Very frequently "doing what large donors want" is not justifiable in a bona fide exercise by the lawmaker of his obligation to "serve the public interest." There is a "quid pro quo" aspect that cannot be admitted under a "transparency" standard, and hence much obfuscation goes on that keeps the public from knowing how a lawmaker's personal desire to get funds to get reelected was put ahead of doing what is best for the "public" interest.

Throw into the "campaign finance" problem the immense exacerbation resulting from the lobbyist regime in Washington DC, and also that of "one sided special interests". These are egregious feeders to the politicians' needs for lots of money to win and keep elected office.

This detrimental situation is compounded by how the regulatory apparatus in Washington is availed of. While regulating can serve public interests, there is a great risk of over-regulation, which enables the lobbyists and one sided special interests to obtain greater funding from the regulated parties who need to defend against excessive regulatory reach into their activities.

Throw in regulators who earn their income from doing regulating and who enjoy the power that comes from being able to regulate others. Such regulators can be very accommodating to lobbyists and one sided special interests which seek funding that can be funneled to the politicians and which desire overly excessive regulation to stimulate the flow of funds.

If the above description is starting to sound like the Swamp, it is indeed the Swamp.

Strange is a manifestation of the Swamp in two publicized ways currently.

A. Strange and McConnell
Mitch McConnell is very enamored of the powerful position he has in Washington. To keep the position, he needs Senators who will back him. Mitch McConnell has at his disposal lots of funds that can be used to help someone like Luther Strange.
Luther Strange needs the money to do his TV and radio advertising to win the 2017 special election. Luther Strange will do what Mitch McConnell wants in order to get McConnell's funds.
The extent to which Mitch McConnell and Luther Strange can justify themselves and justify what they will endeavor to do in Congress as being best for the American people is problematic. Possibly they are failing and will fail to try to do what is best for the American people, and are largely acting only to serve their personal desires of being and staying a powerful person in Washington DC or being United States Senator from Alabama.
The campaign finance Swamp of McConnell and Strange is impenetrable to the public eye and is an unknown detriment to the interests of the American people in having Congress work properly for them.

B. Strange and the Superfund bribe
The Swamp includes outright bribery and doing the maximum to keep it hidden from public. Even apart from the outright bribery, there are questions about campaign contributions from Drummond to Strange improperly influencing his actions as Alabama Attorney General. As stated, campaign finance is a chief cause of the Swamp being egregious and detrimental. Anything Strange says is suspect, and his talking about draining the Swamp is pathetic. (For more info, see Source: State Rep. was offered superfund bribe with Luther Strange present.)

Trump campaigned hard about the Swamp and draining the Swamp.

To me, it has come clear that this was just a ploy to get elected, and Trump does not really care about draining the Swamp.

Further I think Trump has become the biggest Swamp Creature, in large part because of his claiming an exemption for his conflicts of interest.

In support of the foregoing, I refer you to these three blog entries: A Trump speech - NOT; #crookederthanHillary; and Trump Inc.

The #alsen candidates
For a digest of how the #alsen candidates are addressing the Swamp, see Washington Swamp.

Can the Swamp be drained?
I believe the Swamp has become egregious and very detrimental for the country. I believe the essence of the Swamp is a money monster that is out of control and overwhelming in politics. The country is unable to find a way to corral the money monster. Until a way is found to corral the money monster, the Swamp will stay egregious and detrimental for the country.

The #alsen candidates are talking palaver about draining the Swamp. They fail to articulate what the Swamp is, and their suggestions about draining it are laughable.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dear Moore tweeters

Dear Roy Moore tweeters:

I don't know whether or not your tweets are spamming abuse on Twitter. As you know, I have reported you to Twitter. I am content to leave it to Twitter decide, and I won't be bothered one way or the other going forward.

The #alsen and #alpolitics hashtags on Twitter are pathetic with their absence of candidate debate and voter/candidate interaction.

There are only about ten to fifteen of you Moore tweeters. For many weeks you have been posting scores or hundreds of times about ten different tweets and attached media images. That doesn't contribute much to the political conversation.

There are virtually no tweeters for the other #alsen candidates.

A few weeks ago I endeavored to engage with you by means of doing replies to some of your tweets. You didn't respond.

Roy Moore himself has not responded to any of the many things I have put to him via Twitter.

While I think you and Roy Moore should be able to engage in political discussion, if you and he can't or won't, that's yours and his choice.

I wish to continue the endeavor to engage with you, and indirectly Roy Moore, and I will use this blog entry to make a record of that.

I have gone to the Twitter accounts of some of you to get a better sense of what your political thinking is. I expect to address some of that here. I may mention some of you individually.

Continuation 1:
Your candidate needs all the campaigning he can get in order to win.
Very few AL voters come to hashtags #alsen and #alpolitics on Twitter, and your tweets there would seem to achieve almost no campaign effect.
A tweeting bank, such as the one I put up at Alabamians tweeting for Roy Moore, can reach a lot of Alabama voters if there is a small group of motivated Roy Moore supporters to get the tweeting bank going.
My experience is that individually directed tweets achieve a good percentage of success in getting recipients to click on the link.
I am promoting tweeting banks because I am interested in their potential as a way for achieving greater voter involvement in the electoral process. I don't claim any proprietary interest in the concept. Anyone is free to borrow the idea and create their own tweeting bank, including setting up their own webpage for their tweets to link to, all completely independent of me.
I think tweeting banks can be especially valuable for those candidates who genuinely hold themselves out as "candidates of the people." This is because the tweeting bank allows people to participate in a concrete way and for others to see that participation and be induced to join in.
Roy Moore's campaign especially emphasizes his being a "candidate of the people," and thus I think a tweeting bank for his campaign has significant potential benefit.
I would be pleased to answer any questions anyone has.

Continuation 2:
At least some of you appear as absolute believers in Donald Trump, right up to today.
I voted for Trump and quickly turned against him after he won.
What, if anything, will cause you to turn against Trump?
What are salient considerations for you?
Let's agree that Trump saw that you were hurting, and that his campaign was for you.
It's also fair to say that Bernie Sanders saw you were hurting, and he tried to campaign for you.
A consideration for you is how genuinely Trump was and is for you.
There is probably no doubting the genuineness of Bernie Sanders.
There are reasons for doubting how genuinely Donald Trump is for you.
You now have six months of his Presidency, and there is a lot there you can consider in judging how genuinely Trump is for you, and whether he may have duped you and is betraying you.
To try to answer that for yourself, ask yourself: Is Trump now greatly impaired to achieve what you desired him to achieve for you? If so, why is Trump impaired, to what extent is he to blame, and to what extent is Trump to blame because he selfishly chose for himself and against you?
Please read A Trump speech -NOT, and discern the choice that Trump could have made for you, but instead made for himself.
Then consider how that choice has contributed to his Russia problem. Consider how, for his own selfish purposes, Trump has chosen that his wealth and businesses are none of the country's business, that he is entitled to use the Presidency to further enrich himself, and that he need not and will not be open about his wealth and businesses and his ties to other countries and governments (particularly including Russia). This stance of Trump has contributed to Trump being in his Russia quagmire, which is greatly impairing Trump doing for you whatever it is you wanted from him.
In other words, Trump's genuineness in being for you can be seen as suspect.
There is much else that creates doubt about Trump's genuineness in being for you.

[to be continued]

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Alabamians tweeting for Roy Moore

Rev. 8/16/17

TO: As many Alabamians as we can tweet to:

We who are tweeting to you are Alabamians who are fed up with the Washington DC political establishment.

We object to Luther Strange getting Mitch McConnell's money to pay for Luther Strange TV ads in Alabama in order to get Luther Strange elected Senator from Alabama.

We see how Luther Strange and Mitch McConnell are mainly interested in themselves, Mitch McConnell to stay in power in Washington, and Luther Strange to be Senator from Alabama.

We see through Luther Strange and how he cares mainly about himself and only pretends to care about us Alabamians.

Judge Roy Moore has shown that he has integrity and is genuinely for us, the people of Alabama. and we want Roy Moore to be our Senator and not Luther Strange.

We want to spread this message for Roy Moore as far and wide in Alabama on Twitter as we can.

We want to send thousands of tweets to Alabamians to ask them to join with us, and send even more thousands of tweets to other Alabamians. This is all in order to show how widespread and strong are the feelings of Alabamians against the DC political establishment and against Luther Strange, and how we want Roy Moore as our Senator.

To join in with us, please follow Steps One and Two below.

Step One
Click on the below "Tweet here" link  to send a tweet that says,
I am fed up with the DC political establishment and want Judge Roy Moore as my Senator. #ALSen #MooreSenate  
(After you click on the below "Tweet here" link, you will see a preview of your tweet, and your tweet will not be sent until you click the "Tweet" button in the preview.)

Step Two
Send individual tweets to other Alabamians, which tweets have a link to this webpage. This will be to try to get recipients of tweets to come to this webpage, send their own tweet in Step One, and, after that, join in sending tweets to more Alabamans in this Step Two. The goal here to get a large number of "pyramiding" of tweets going to Alabama voters.

A suggested tweet message to send in this Step Two is:
Are you fed up with DC political establishment? Tweet for Judge Roy Moore for Senator.
Then find follower lists of Twitter accounts in your geographic area that have a lot of followers. Below are examples of good Twitter follower lists to use for the Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile areas:

A. General
This tweeting involves a non-standard use of Twitter, namely, the sending of large numbers of individually directed tweets to followers of other Twitter accounts (not your own followers).
A ground has been staked out with Twitter for this method of tweeting. See letter to Twitter @Support.
The object of this method of tweeting is to get a "pyramiding" of tweets going in Alabama.

B. How to send your tweets efficiently from laptops
In doing your tweeting, you are repetitively sending the same tweet message. This can be done very efficiently, at least on a laptop computer. Get the tweet message on your mouse clipboard, go to the follower list  you are using for your tweeting, start with the first person on the list you want to tweet to, and do this:
1. Right click on person's Twitter name.
2. Choose "open in new tab"
3. Go to the new tab.
4. Click on the "Tweet to" button.
5. Paste the tweet message in the box.
6. Hit the "Tweet" button.
7. Close the tab, which takes you back to the list
8. Go on to next person, and repeat above steps.
You should be able to send 35 to 70 tweets in a half hour. Send as many tweets as you are willing to. Don't worry about any duplication that you think may arise.

C. How to send your tweets efficiently on smartphones
[to be added]

This communication is not authorized by Roy Moore or any other candidate, or authorized committee of Roy Moore or other candidate, or an agent of any of the foregoing. The author of this blog Robert D. Shattuck, Jr. is paying for this communication. His permanent address is 3812 Spring Valley Circle, Birmingham, AL 35223, tel. no. (205) 967-5586. 
Under Federal election law, an uncompensated individual or group of uncompensated individuals may engage in certain voluntary Internet activities for the purpose of influencing a federal election without restriction. These exempted Internet activities do not result in a contribution or an expenditure under the Federal election law and do not trigger any registration or reporting requirements with the FEC. This exemption applies to individuals acting with or without the knowledge or consent of a campaign or a political party committee. Exempted Internet activities include, but are not limited to, sending or forwarding electronic mail, providing a hyperlink to a website, creating, maintaining or hosting a website and paying a nominal fee for the use of a website. The author of this blog is not receiving any compensation.

Friday, July 21, 2017

The question of Trump

The basic question about Trump is whether he conforms, or will conform, or try to conform, or pretend to conform, to the ideal that there is a public interest and there are private interests, and public officials are supposed to put the public interest ahead of their private interests.

After six months, Trump has made it clear that he does not conform, and he will not conform, or try or pretend to conform, to that ideal, and all that ultimately counts is Trump, the Trump name, the Trump persona, Trump power, and Trump glorification.

Trump does not even pretend otherwise.

Then there are the Republican #alsen candidates and the Alabama Republican delegation in Washington DC.

They don't care that Trump does not even pretend to put the "public interest" ahead of Trump.

Here's a test that should convince you about some things.

Say Trump could click his fingers and the Republican health care bill would pass. He would say, "this is a great bill," and, of course, it was passed because of him, and it proves he is a great President and can get things done.

Now say Trump could click his fingers, get Democrats elected in 2018, and get a single payer health care bill enacted in 2019. If Trump could do that, who of you out there thinks he would not do it?

Doing that would just as well allow Trump to say, and he would say, "this is a great law, it was passed because of me, and it proves I am a great President who can get things done."

That's what I think, Republican #alsen candidates. What do you think?

As you think about that, review my below tweets, to which you have given no response.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump beauty contest

How do you think Roy Moore, Luther Strange and Mo Brooks stack up in the Trump beauty contest?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Luther Strange and Swamp

Luther Strange's website says,
When Luther Strange was first elected as Alabama's Attorney General, he went to Montgomery as an outsider with one mission: fight corrupt insiders and special interests.

No one in Alabama history has done more to drain the swamp than Luther. He led a public corruption team that had over 25 convictions, including Republican Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, and has always remained committed to holding government at all levels accountable to Alabamians. Luther fought the Obama administration’s overreach all the way to the Supreme Court, defending Alabamians from big government intrusions by career politicians and bureaucrats.

Luther enjoyed many successes in the fight against Montgomery insiders. As senator, he’s ready to help President Donald Trump do the same in Washington.

Mo Brooks and Swamp

Yesterday I tweeted several times to the effect that Alabamians are getting mealy mouthed palaver from the #alsen candidates about draining the swamp. This got about zero reaction. I would say the explanation for that is I don't matter and they don't need to react.

Be that as it may, there is more about the Washington Swamp to get into.

The talk about the Swamp is empty unless the #alsen candidates define what they mean by the Swamp.

I go along with Mo Brooks' definition on his website, which says:
President Trump was right when he called Washington, D.C. a swamp. Big-moneyed lobbyists and special interest groups peddle influence with corrupt elected officials. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have refused to play their nefarious games. As your next Senator, I will fight to “Drain the Swamp” by standing up to the corruption and powerful special interests who bribe, bully, and threaten elected officials into doing their bidding.
To follow up on my suggestion from yesterday, why doesn't Mo Brooks name names? There are 535 members of Congress. Given how adamantly Mo Brooks defines what the Swamp is, surely Mo Brooks should be able to start naming names of who is bigly swampy and who is not.

If Mo Brooks is not willing to name names, he needs to explain why, if he is to be taken seriously about draining the swamp.

Then there is the matter of Donald Trump. With the burgeoning conflicts of interest presented by the Trump business, either that is evidence that Donald Trump is now a major part of the Swamp, or else Mo Brooks needs to explain why he thinks Donald Trump is not contributing bigly to making the Swamp swampier.