Monday, March 31, 2014

Debate video; commentary

[I could not cram everything I originally wanted to say into one minute.  Below is the actual one minute opener I gave.]

Good evening.  I want to thank you for this opportunity to explain my campaign to you.

My campaign is about a  political class in Washington, D.C. that  has been doing a big time number on the American people.

So what else is new, you say.  Politicians doing numbers on the people are like death and taxes.  You can't escape 'em and you can't do anything about 'em.

This time it's different.  This big time number on the people is posing a dire threat to the well being of the country.  The people may have to act to save their country.

I have some ideas.

Hopefully tonight's debate will allow for discussion of what the problem is, how dire the threat is, and what can be done about it.  After tonight I will continue this conversation with the voters, and come June 3rd I think you will conclude that the other candidates woefully fail to understand what is truly important in this election, and you will vote for me.

Thank you.

Link for:  Online debate video

My commentary on the debate

Something not working right in Washington

All the candidates expressed at different points and in different ways that something, or a number of things, are not working right in Washington.  I tried to make the point that this has been going on for twenty years or more.

What did the other candidates say was needed to fix this?

One main thing they said was that the right people needed to be elected to Congress.

In the past twenty years there have been ten Congressional elections, and many commentators would say that the performance of Congress has only gotten worse over the twenty years.  Why in the world do the other candidates think Congressional performance will improve over the next four to six years?  In all those past elections, there have been hundreds, if not thousands, of Congressional candidates who have told their voters they just needed to elect the right people.  It is fatuous for the other candidates to try to urge to the voters that anything is going to change for the better by the voters electing, or trying to elect, the right people.

Term limits were specifically asked about, and some or all of the other candidates thought there should be term limits, which they presumably thought would improve the performance of Congress.  In his answer, Tom Vignuelle referred to "so much power and money that leads to corruption."  Will Brooke thought that former Congressmen should not be able to stay on as lobbyists.

None of the other candidates seemed to give much priority or primacy to term limits or any other specific things that should be done to improve Congressional performance.

My campaign and platform have given first priority and primacy to the country implementing a comprehensive reform plan covering campaign finance and other matters in order to have a Congress that will do its job better for the American people.

It needs to be taken into account that there have been decades of various reform ideas that have been advocated and pressed.  The term limits idea has been around for a long time.  See http://termlimits.org/    Gerrymandering has received a huge amount of attention, and there are many efforts around the country for redistricting reform  Here is a compendium http://redistricting.lls.edu/reform.php.  The Citizens United case in 2010 has spawned several organizations, which have the objective of a constititutional amendment.  See, e.g., https://movetoamend.org/.

There should also be taken into account a forty year history of campaign finance reform by Congress.  A Wikipedia article summarizing this can be found here. There is a currently pending house bill H.R. 20 Government By The People Act of 2014.

So, let's generalize.  There is, and has been for many years, a huge amount of activity and effort by scores of organizations, putting in an immense amount of time trying to bring about various changes intended to have the effect of improving the governance that the American people get from their Congress, plus a 40 year history of efforts by Congress for campaign finance reform.

And the country is where it is.

It would seem there are three basic ways to react.  One way to react is to be of the position there has not been and there is not now any significant problem that needs addressing or fixing by the country (category one).  Another way to react is to say there has been a significant problem, but decent progress is being made to make changes, which are having satisfactory effect of improving Congressional performance, so it is not a very important issue for consideration by the voters in the 6th Congressional district (category two).  A third way to react is there has been and continues to be a very significant problem that needs addressing, and little or no progress has been made, poor or failed Congressional performance continues and seems to be getting worse, and something much more dramatic is needed than these very extensive reform activities that have been going on for years and/or ways need to be found to deal with holdings of the United States Supreme Court invalidating various campaign finance reform laws (category three).

So, let's be frank.  The other candidates should not kid themselves.  They can say they are  in category one or two above, and that this matter is of little importance in this 6th Congressional debate.  In this case, what they said in the debate cannot be taken as anything more than throwaway lines, and the voters should give them absolutely no credit for offering anything that the voters should take into account on this issue.

For anyone in category three, which I am, a monumentally daunting effort is needed by the country.


It is a total mess and chaos

Look at the video for the final question of the debate labelled: How Can Congress Rein In Executive Branch?

All of the political class in Washington DC is culpable.  They are recession proof up there.  Regulation writers need regulations to write.  The more regulations they write, the more power they've got to write more regulations.  They are all in cahoots, including with the Wall Street cronies of the Washington political class. Wake up peon Republicans and peon Democrats, and peon independents too!


The common enemy is the political class in Washington DC

For six weeks, I have been endeavoring to lay out that the common enemy is the political class in Washington DC.  See My 2014 election (at a glance).

That enemy continues to hold sway and grow and become a more powerful enemy, because it keeps the electorate divided and it keeps peon Republicans and peon Democrats riled up and angry at each other, even hating each other, so they will not join forces and to what is necessary to defeat their common enemy, the political class in Washington DC.

The other candidates are vying for who will pound hardest on Obama and the Democrats, and in doing this the other candidates are playing into the hands of the common enemy.   For every Republican candidate in Alabama in 2014 who is running on a platform about how hard he or she is going to fight against Obama and the Democrats, there are Democratic candidates in other parts of the country who are purveying how they are best qualified to beat back an evil, hateful Republican onslaught.

The political class in Washington DC is depending on peon Republicans and peon Democrats and peon independents never uniting to do what is necessary to corral their common enemy, being said political class in Washington DC.


If Congress can't act, why spend time discussing what should be done?

It seems Congress exhibits more and more incapability of doing anything.  My motivation is that I am more concerned about trying to get Congress into a place where divisions in the electorate that are instigated by the Washington political class get tamped down, more reasonable and rational discourse between the sides proceeds, and a compromise finds acceptance.  If that happens, on many of the important issues, I have no strong views about particulars, and feel I will be happy with whatever the two sides are able to agree to.


My answers to selected questions; supplementation 

On a question about term limits, I said term limits could be part of a Congressional proposal to the American people for tackling the money monster in politics that was the cause of the dysfunctionality of Congress (i.e., its poor and failed performance).

On why I was the best candidate, I said that I was the only candidate endeavoring to diagnose why there has been such poor performance by Congress during the past 20 years and to have a plan for improving that performance, and that I was the best candidate for voters who thought it very important to improve the performance of Congress.

On questions about global warming and climate change, I said I did not know the answers to the questions.  (The one book I have read on the subject, The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, by Bjorn Lomborg, impressed me greatly.  One thing I think is true about the global warming/climate change issue, is that most Americans have conflicting desires for (i) a robust economy and personal accoutrements derived from energy consumption, and (ii) not damaging the earth for use by future generations, and the issue is one of many issues that the political class in Washington DC uses to keep the electorate divided and Democrats and Republicans riled up and angry at each other..)

On medical marijuana, I said I did not consider my views relevant to voters in deciding to vote for me or not. (I recently read Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy, by David Sheff.)

On NSA and privacy, I said others with more expertise and knowledge than myself would need to figure that out.   (A couple of years ago, I read a book called Top Secret America, which I found very interesting.)

For a question about foreign travel, I said I should not be sent to Washington to conduct foreign relations.  (I recently read Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, by Jeremy Scahill.  Also, my wife returned from a trip to India and reported two things that particularly struck her.  One was the massive amount of "make work" to give jobs for Indians to do (such as having multiple stampers of documents like passports, and grass cutters using handheld clippers), and that the Indians doing the jobs were always cheerful and never complained.  The second thing was the large funeral pyres (particularly visible at night), which burned continuously for cremating the dead.)

Bush's drug prescription plan

In indicating that I am unsure about whether Congress performed well or poorly in enacting The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, I believe I have one definite negative and a couple of open questions.


The definite negative relates to the pharmaceutical industry and its avoidance of negotiating drug prices. Here is the way I see this. As a general rule, if Congress decides that the Federal government should be involved (and has constitutional authority to be involved) with something, public and taxpayer interests should predominate, private interests should be lesser, and private interests should not have a controlling say. In the case of negotiating or not negotiating drug prices, it is legitimate for Congress to give some consideration to the detrimental effect that negotiating drug prices might have on the vitality of the pharmaceutical industry and the thousands of employees employed by the industry and weigh that in deciding whether there shall be negotiation of drug prices or not. The pharmaceutical industry should not be able to dictate that decision by means of how it deploys campaign contributions and lobbyists. In this regard this Wikipedia article reports this:

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., who steered the bill through the House, retired soon after and took a $2 million a year job as president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main industry lobbying group. Medicare boss Thomas Scully, who threatened to fire Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster if he reported how much the bill would actually cost, was negotiating for a new job as a pharmaceutical lobbyist as the bill was working through Congress.[28][29] A total of 14 congressional aides quit their jobs to work for the drug and medical lobbies immediately after the bill's passage.

Beyond the foregoing definite negative related to Congressional performance, I don't know enough about budgetary considerations and political jockeying that went on in the passage of the law.  Close scrutiny there might reveal further negatives about Congressional performance.

My answers to questions panelists should ask

[draft]

Instances of Congress performing well

1. Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (welfare reform)


I am unsure about these

1. No Child Left Behind

2. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.  See Bush's drug prescription plan.


Instances of failure and poor performance

1. The Affordable Care Act is a monstrosity, borne from a grossly dysfunctional Congress.

2. Not paying for Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the  associated huge Federal debt run up and increased Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds

3. Failure to take up Simpson-Bowles

4. Failure to undertake tax reform

5. Failure to pass an immigration law

6. Failure to address looming Social Security bankruptcy

7. Failure to address looming Medicare bankruptcy

8. Being a cause of the financial crisis by allowing Washington political class to balloon Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for their own personal benefit and for the benefit of their Wall Street cronies

9. Role in recovery from financial crisis that has resulted in Wall Street and big banks being richer than ever and everyone else still struggling to get back.

10. The staggering and ever growing Federal debt Congress is not able to get under control.

Overall grade

F


Questions the panelists should ask

The panelists at the tonight's channel 13 debate should ask the candidates the following questions:

1. Looking back over the performance of Congress during the past twenty 20 years, what actions of Congress have there been that you think are examples of the Congress performing well in doing its job for the American people?

2.   Looking back over the performance of Congress during the past twenty 20 years, what actions or failures of action by Congress have there been that you think are examples of Congress performing poorly in doing its job for the American people?

3. Overall, if you put on one side of a sheet of paper what you answer to question 1, and on the other side of the sheet of paper what you answer to question 2, what letter grade, A to F, would you give to Congress for how well it has done its job for the American people over the past 20 years?

4. If you give a very poor overall grade to the performance of Congress over the past 20 years, do you think the performance of Congress will improve over the next two to six years?  If so, why do you think it will improve?

5.  If you give a very poor overall grade to the performance of Congress over the past 20 years, why do you think it has done so poorly?

6.  If you give a very poor overall grade to the performance of Congress over the past 20 years, do you have any ideas for how that performance can be improved?  If so, what are your ideas?

I have emailed these suggested questions to the the Channel 13 news director and he can decide whether the questions should be passed on to the panelists for their consideration.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Are you being walled off?

The Code of Alabama prohibits any public school employee from using any school property or school time for political activities.

What does that mean?

Does it mean a public school teacher cannot have a political discussion with  another teacher in the school cafeteria during the lunch hour?  Does it mean a public school teacher cannot use his or her smartphone during the school day to get information about a political event?  Does it mean that a public school teacher cannot go into the school library and read the editorial page of a newspaper concerning a candidate for public office?  Does it mean a teacher cannot use a school computer to read the editorial online?

What if a political email gets into the teacher's school email inbox?  Can the teacher read the email?

If you are a public school teacher, you may want to read this link related to the foregoing.



Making sure my candidacy is understood

The candidates have been told that the audience range for tomorrow night's televised debate can be expected to be in the vicinity of 30,000 viewers.  I want to do what I can to have viewers understand my candidacy.

Yesterday I posted what I am going to say in my one minute opening statement at the debate and indicated what my 30 second answers will be on possible question topics.

My posting gave links to other blog entries for understanding my candidacy.

I emailed the other candidates and Thomas Allen, the WVTM Channel 13 Assistant News Director who is handling the debate, about the above posting I made.  I will email Mr. Allen again today and urge that he provide to Mike Royer, Leland Whaley, Barnett Wright and Linda White links to my posting to try to make sure they, as the debate moderator and panelists, understand my candidacy.

I have invitations from Matt Murphy and Richard Dixon for their talk shows, which I have not responded to yet.  I will respond to those invitations today and refer to my wanting to make sure my candidacy is understood.

Yellowhammer News has this story about tomorrow night's Channel 13 debate.  "Crusader" posted a comment (which you can see underneath the Channel 13 debate story) in which "Crusader" gives his impression of the Eagle Forum candidate forum, including saying that I might have lost the audience at the Eagle Forum.  I posted a reply to Crusader's comment and "Crusader" posted a reply to my reply. Crusader's comment, insofar as it related to me, echoed what a person said to me after the Eagle Forum.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Op/ed piece on health care from 1994

[The below is an op/ed piece I got published in The Birmingham Post-Herald on August 25, 1994]

ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT HEALTH CARE BEFORE VOTING
It is coming down to lick log time on health care.  After a year and a half, the cacophony of debate is rising to a fever pitch, and the special interests are weighing in to the utmost with their agenda.  You are going to cast a vote on 14% of the national economy that will affect every American man, woman and child for the rest of their lives.  In reaching your voting decision, do you have it right, are you thinking clearly, and will you cast a vote that will be best for the American people?

While health care is enormously complex, there are some relatively simple things that you can think about and consider and that may help you immensely in deciding how to vote.  Indeed, if you do not address these points satisfactorily to yourself, you may be called to account on them this November or in 1996, or if and whenever any mistaken action taken at this moment becomes clear to the American people and they decide to retaliate.  In the mind numbing welter of multiple health care proposals, lightning fast modifications, drafts and redrafts of legislation, inscrutable budgetary costing estimates, frenzied lobbying and an unprecedented media advertising barrage for and against, this John Q. Public citizen suggests you pose interrogatories to yourself along the lines of the following to assist you in what you need to decide.

 1.  The "spending someone else's money" problem.  Acknowledging that the causes of the health care cost problem in the Unites States cannot be quantified precisely, in relative order of magnitude terms, to what extent do you believe the cost problem has resulted from a system in which consumers do not impose any limits on their own health care spending the way they do when they are spending their own money, because any particular health care expenditure, for all practical purposes, is coming out of someone else's pocket?  If you think the "spending someone else's money" syndrome is a major cause of the cost problem, what do you think should be done about it?  Should we change to a system where consumers will be more clearly spending their own money and limit their spending accordingly?  If that is not feasible, are not third party limits on health care spending needed if the "spending someone else's money" dimension of the cost problem is going to be addressed?  If third party spending limits are needed, should the limits be imposed by the government or by employers and insurance companies?  In trying to answer these questions, have the American people been ill served by public debate that has not adequately explained the "spending someone else's money" problem and the need for third party spending limits to address the cost problem, and by debate that has instead been filled with, on the one hand, false denials to the effect that there will be no rationing (the dreaded R word, which is another name for third party limits) and, on the other hand, terrorizing of the public about rationing without explaining the need for third party limits?  If public debate has been deficient in this regard, does it warrant putting off legislative action until the people get the benefit of better debate?  

2.  Freedom of choice.  Is not the freedom of choice question inextricably linked up with how one answers the questions under the "spending someone else's money" topic above?  Is it not the case, if people are spending their own money, they can be given all the choice in the world they want, but, if they are "spending someone else's money", either you have to limit their freedom of choice or else you cannot address the health care cost problem to the extent it is caused by the "spending someone else's money" syndrome?  Has this been adequately explained in the public debate for the benefit of the American people?

3.  Scientific and technological advances.  Has proper account been taken of the avalanche of amazing scientific and technological advances in medicine that have occurred and that will undoubtedly continue to occur and that offer the opportunity to spend untold tens of billions, if not hundreds of billions, of more dollars on health care?  Has the public debate addressed the extent to which the nation's total economic resources are limited and that there may be need for a conscious national choice between health care and all the other ways the nation's resources are spent, with the consequence that the more fully we pursue and avail ourselves of all the medical advances that have been and can be made, the greater the extent to which economic resources may need to be diverted away from other purposes, so that ultimately there are less houses and/or less cars and/or less education and/or less entertainment and recreation for the American people?

 4.  Demographics.  Has adequate consideration been given to the demographic factors at work and to the increased medical needs of an aging population and how to avoid fifteen or twenty years from now a bankruptcy crisis like the one that is looming ahead for social security.  Has not the social security problem been caused by Congress being less than laudably responsible, by time after time increasing social security benefits beyond the county's ability to pay for them in the future, which has been particularly exacerbated by demographic trends, and do not we run the same risk as regards gold plated universal coverage health care benefits packages?

 5.  Administrative savings.  How much can really be saved in terms of administrative costs, be they costs related to the making of decisions about the purchase of particular health care services, or related to the effectuation of payments for purchased services?  Is not the administrative savings question as regards decisions to purchase medical services linked up with the "spending someone else's money" topic in the sense that, when people are spending their own money, they shop around, decide how much they want to spend, and try to be sure they get what they want for the price they are willing to pay, but if they are not spending their own money and therefore are not inclined to do the foregoing, someone else needs to do those things in one form or another (i.e., the third party limits referred to above), and this is going to show up as administrative costs in the system which simply are not subject to elimination?  As regards effectuating payments for health care services, would a single payer such as the government result in significant savings over a multi-payer system, taking into account computer technology and the possibility of hooking up multiple payers and providers electronically?  If administrative savings can be realized, can the government realize them better or can the private sector realize them better?  

6.  Progress and experimentation.  Has adequate consideration been given to what profit seeking employers are motivated to do to bring down health care costs since they pay most of the bill, and what employers have done and will do apart from a national health care reform project?  Has adequate consideration been given to the benefits of experimentation on the state level or other smaller scale and the extent to which these will be squelched by a single federal solution?

7. Universal coverage.  When the President has asked whether the public favors universal coverage and a substantial majority says yes, has he ever asked the follow up question of what level of universal coverage do you favor?  If he never asked that follow up question, has there been a deficiency in the public debate as to whether the minimum benefit package under universal coverage should be a Cadillac (which seems to be the President's answer to the unasked question), or should it be a Ford?

8.  Price controls.  To what extent do you think price controls can help solve the health care cost problem and what particular form of price controls do you favor, or are price controls a bad idea in the health care area in any form and should we therefore rely on third party spending limits other than price controls?  

9.  American character and expectations.  In terms of looking to the health care systems of other countries, has adequate consideration been given to whether Americans have higher expectations about their health care and that they would not be willing to accept what citizens of other countries are willing to accept?  If this is so, how are we concretely prepared to deal with Americans having higher expectations about their health care than citizens of other countries?

 It is submitted that each member of Congress would do well to answer for him or herself each of the above series of questions, and that the answers that are given will go a long way in guiding the Congressional member in how to cast the vote that he or she will soon be asked to cast.  It is further submitted that, in evaluating in November how members of Congress have done on health care, American citizens should want all these questions answered by a Congressional member as helps explains to the citizens why the member shall have cast his or her health care vote this fall the way he or she did. 

My 30 second answers

Below are indications of what my 30 second answers will be on various topics the panelists may ask about.

Education; Common Core

For more than 20 years we have been hearing about the failure of education in the United States.  I don’t know whether to judge that the failure has gotten progressively worse during the past 20 years, or whether improvements are being made and there is reason to be optimistic, or whether conflicting views and politics have been persistently intractable, so that Federal, state and local governments persistently perform poorly in their roles on the education front.  In all the efforts, theories and ideas about  improving failed education in the United States during the past twenty years, I am ignorant about and don’t have a view on Common Core Standards. (The foregoing is the answer I gave on the Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. See My response to Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. I have checked out from the library new book shelf Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools by Diane Ravitch.  I am not sure if I am going to be able to read it in the midst of the campaign.  Here is a review.)


Northern Beltline

The Northern Beltline is a very large regional project, which has very significant ramifications for how and where the metropolitan area will grow, and different areas will be affected differently by the project.  Many persons in the metropolitan area have substantial, and varying commercial, environmental and demographic interests in the project.  I personally don’t have strong views about the project.  To the extent there are strong, opposing views about the project, I would endeavor to determine what is  “best.”  For this purpose, I don’t have a view at this juncture whether “best” should be determined with reference to only the 6th Congressional district or with reference to the entire affected metropolitan area.  I further don’t know what the parameters are of the involvement of the Federal government in the project.  (The foregoing is the answer I gave on the Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. See My response to Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire.)


The Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act is a leading example of government in Washington DC not being “of, by and for” the people, and of a dysfunctional Congress making great and costly errors.  Health care law and health care reform constitute the biggest and most difficult economic, social and political matter to deal with in the United States.  A government in Washington that is “of, by and for” people, and a properly functioning Congress, are not likely to happen anytime soon.  Generally, I would like to see a “public” health care sector and a “private” health care sector. with clear budgeting and taxpayer funding of the “public” sector.  (The foregoing is the answer I gave on the Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. See My response to Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. I have been interested in the subject of health care reform for 20 years. Here is an op/ed piece I got published in The Birmingham Post-Herald on August 25, 1994.   The Affordable Care Act is a monstrosity borne out of a dysfunctional Congress that is not government of, by and for the people.  President Obama made an immense failing in not going on national TV and giviving a 15 minute to half our explanation of the most important ways that people would be affected.  Such an explanation would have especially included projections of how much health insurance premiums would go up and how the subsidies would work, say by giving an example of a family of four whose premiums would go from say $7000 to $11,000 and how for a family of four at 100% of the poverty level, almost all of their $11,000 premium would be covered by subsidy and for a family of four above 400% of the poverty level, their premium would go up to $11,000 but they would get no subsidy.  The explanation would have discussed that a family of four below 100% of the poverty level would get no subsidy to cover an $11,000 premium and would be relegated to Medicaid.  The monstrosity of The Affordable Care Act set things in motion three years ago, the train has been rolling down the track for three years, the country now a huge mess on its hands, it cannot turn on a dime, a dysfunctional Congress that produced the first monstrosity, if it tries to "fix" the law, is just as likely to create a greater monstrosity as it is to turn out a lesser monstrosity. President Obama will veto any repeal, and, after 2016, there is a good chance that Hillary Clinton will be President and she too will veto any repeal.  It is almost a waste of time for the 6th Congressional candidates to be debating any ideas they have about what to do, because whoever is elected will have zero effect on what happens in Washington on health care in 2015 and beyond. The candidates should be realistic with the voters and with themselves and simply acknowledge there is a total mess at hand and they and the 6th district are and will be for some time to come helpless in the face of the mess.)


Abortion

Abortion is an issue which, in my opinion, is one of the leading culprits utilized by the political class in Washington for keeping the electorate divided and Republicans and Democrats angry and riled up against each other.  That helps keep the political class in Washington entrenched and helps them increase their power and riches, but it is causing dire dysfunctinality of Congress and dire inability to do its job properly for the American people. Primacy right now needs to be reserved to initiate the job of trying to fix Congress. If that is initiated, there will be a much better political environment for the country to thrash out the differing views which the citizens have on abortion.


Second Amendment

The Second Amendment is also an issue which, in my opinion, is one of the leading culprits utilized by the political class in Washington for keeping the electorate divided and Republicans and Democrats angry and riled up against each other.  That helps keep the political class in Washington entrenched and helps them increase their power and riches, but it is causing dire dysfunctinality of Congress and and dire inability to do its job properly for the American people. Primacy right now needs to be reserved to initiate the job of trying to fix Congress. If that is initiated, there will be a much better political environment for the country to thrash out the differing views which the citizens have on guns and gun control..


Immigration

Our dysfunctional Congress has failed to act on immigration legislation, and I have no expectation about it being able to act in 2014 or 2015.  Perhaps the other candidates see a realistic pathway to immigration legislation getting enacted.  For purposes of the debate, I will defer to any expression by the other candidates of what they think can get enacted and what effect they think they can have on what gets passed.


Tax reform

I would say tax reform is a ditto of immigration.


Globalism; income disparities

No one knows how globalism is going to play out and impact the standard of living in the United States during the next ten, twenty or thirty years.  Much will be determined well beyond the power of Congress to affect.

I don't know whether it does any good for the member of Congress from the 6th Congressional district to think about anything on this topic.  A couple of years ago I was impressed with Robert Reich's book Aftershock and its inquiry into middle class purchasing power sustaining United States economic growth and the impact if the purchasing power of the United States middle class is reduced.  This raises the question of whether the upper 1% or 2% or 5% may be able to detach itself from the rest of the country and invest its wealth in other markets around the world and not be affected if there is reduced purchasing power by the United States middle class.

Also, last summer I was impressed by David Stockman's The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America.  In my view, crony capitalism is a significant contributor to there not being government of, by and for the people, and to Congressional dysfunctionality.





Thursday, March 27, 2014

March 31st 6th Cong'l debate on Channel 13

Monday, March 31, at 6 pm, there will be a debate of the Alabama 6th Congressional district candidates at the Samford University Wright Center.  The debate will be broadcast live on Channel 13.

There are seven candidates.  Each of the candidates will be allowed a one minute opening statement and a one minute closing statement.  In between the opening and closing statements, there will be rounds of questioning  by a panel from the media. Panelists will have 15 seconds in which to pose a question.  Each of the candidates will be called on and will have 30 seconds to answer the question. In addition, direct rebuttals will be allowed at the discretion of the Moderator.

The Moderator will be Mike Royer.  The panelists will be Leland Whaley-WYDE FM, Barnett Wright-Birmingham News, and Linda White-WVTM TV.

Understanding my candidacy

If you wish to take some time in advance to understand my candidacy, I suggest you take a look at the following blog entries..

Open Letter to the Alabama Legislative Delegation in Washington,
Senator Shelby's response to open letter,
Eagle Forum video,
My American Lawmaker's Creed,
Second open letter to the Alabama delegation in Washington,
Contacting AL Democratic party chairs, and
Alabama Republicans and independents.


What I am going to say in my one minute opening statement

Do you the voters think that the political class in Washington is doing a number on the American people?

I do.

How big a number are they doing on the American people?

Really big time, I think.

Do you think the political class in Washington works at keeping the electorate divided and Republicans and Democrats angry and riled up against each other?

I do.

Do you think the political class in Washington does that to try to keep themselves entrenched and to increase their power and riches?

I do.

Do you think this has gotten worse over the past twenty years?

I do.

Do you think this has led to the dysfunctinality of Congress and its being unable to do its job properly for the American people?

I do.

How dire is this becoming for the country?

I think very dire.

What do the other candidates think about these questions?

I have been trying to ask them for six weeks, and they have not been answering me.

What do Senators Shelby and Sessions and Representative Bachus think about these questions?

I have been trying to ask them for six weeks as well, and they too have not been answering me.

What do you the voters think you should do about all of this?

I want to spend my time before June 3rd talking with you about it, and see if we can figure out what the country should do about it.



The  rounds of questioning

Go to My 30 second answers.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Alabama Republicans and independents

[Below is email sent to Alabama Republicans]

From: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 10:52 AM
Subject: To Alabama Republicans re: AL 6th Cong'l district and HJR49
To: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>

As a candidate for Congress in the Alabama 6th Congressional district, my campaign, during the past month, has been charging that, in Washington DC, there is NOT government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and further that the causes of that condition are also causes of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people.

I have been pressing for debate about this in the 6th Congressional district, including that I posted on the Internet this Open letter to the Alabama legislative delegation in Washington. My open letter noted that the alleged conditions that form the basis of my platform, if they exist, affect voters everywhere in the country, and not just in the 6th Congressional district.

Yesterday, I posted on the Internet a Second open letter to the Alabama delegation in Washington. This second letter has been instigated by this Convention of States Project.

The Project's website homepage says starkly,
The Federal Government is broken. Washington D.C. will never voluntarily relinquish its power. Left unchecked, the government will continue to bankrupt this nation and destroy the liberty of the people. It is time for citizens and the States to act and we have the solution.
The Project seeks to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states, which would propose amendments to the Constitution for limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. 

Alabama is an early actor on an Article V convention of states application, and the Alabama House has passed HJR49. Information about HJR49 can be found at this link.

Whether you use the terminology "broken Federal Government" or "dysfunctional Congress," the matter affects voters everywhere, and not just in the Alabama 6th Congressional district.

In line with this, I wish to inform Alabama Republicans generally about the debate that is going on in the 6th Congressional district. I hope there are ways for the debate to be occur elsewhere in Alabama in the course of the 2014 elections.

Thank you very much for your attention to this email.

Sincerely,
Rob Shattuck
Candidate, AL 6th Congressional district


[Below is email correspondence sent to national independentvoting.org and three persons who have been active locally]

From: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 11:49 AM
Subject: Fwd: Possible independent candidacy in AL 6th Congressional district
To: jopdycke <jopdycke@cuip.org>
Cc: Nancy Ross <nross@cuip.org>, Gwen Mandell <gmandell@cuip.org>

Dear John,

The purpose of this email is to update Independentvoting.org about my candidacy in the Alabama 6th Congressional district. I decided to run in the Republican primary. I am strenuously pushing a "something is broken" campaign, and that all the citizens, Republicans, Democrats and independents, must act in concert to try to "fix it." See this email I sent yesterday to the Alabama Democratic party state and county chairs.

I don't know whether my candidacy and my efforts are anything independentvoting.org would choose to publicize to its members and contacts in the Alabama 6th Congressional district, but I hope it is.

Thanks.
Sincerely,
Rob Shattuck

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>

Date: Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 4:43 PM
Subject: Fwd: Possible independent candidacy in AL 6th Congressional district
To: jopdycke <jopdycke@cuip.org>
Cc: nross@cuip.org, Gwen Mandell <gmandell@cuip.org>

Dear John,

I have a February 7th deadline to decide whether I want to try to be a party candidate or to be an independent candidate. If there is someone at independentvoting.org whom I could talk to in the next day or two about the decision I need to make, I would be very appreciative. If there is someone to talk to, please provide me their name and telephone number.

Thank you.
Rob


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Feb 1, 2014 at 5:19 AM
Subject: Possible independent candidacy in AL 6th Congressional district
To: jopdycke <jopdycke@cuip.org>

Dear John,

Yesterday, I sent these two letters toe Alabama state Republican and Democratic parties. Depending on the response I receive, I may pursue the independent candidate route instead. I will keep you advised.

Sincerely,
Rob Shattuck

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Contacting AL Democratic party chairs

[I have sent the below email to the Alabama Democratic party state and county chairs for the reasons indicated in the email.]

From: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM
Subject: To AL Democratic chairs: re broken Federal Government and AL HJR49
To: Rob Shattuck <rdshattuck@gmail.com>

I am a candidate for Congress in the 6th Congressional district.

During the past month, my campaign has been charging that, in Washington DC, there is NOT government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and further that the causes of that condition are also causes of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people. I have been pressing for debate about this in the 6th Congressional district, including that I posted on the Internet this Open letter to the Alabama legislative delegation in Washington.

Today, I posted on the Internet a Second open letter to the Alabama delegation in Washington. This second letter has been instigated by this Convention of States Project.

That project seeks to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states, which would propose amendments to the Constitution for limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

Alabama is an early actor on an Article V convention of states application. and the Alabama House has passed HJR49. Information about HJR49 can be found at this link.

Whether you use the terminology "broken federal government" or "dysfunctional Congress", my view is that only the citizens, acting in concert, can possibly force the political class in Washington to attempt meaningful change to correct a serious defect or defects in the country's governance.

In line with this, I think across the board involvement by Democrats, Republicans and independents is called for.

I am sending this email to the Democratic state and county chairs in Alabama to try to elicit participation by Alabama Democrats.

Any comments or observations that Alabama Democrats would care to make about my campaign platform charges or about HJR49 could be helpful to the debate I am attempting to push in the 6th Congressional district.

Thank you very much for your attention to this email.

Sincerely,
Rob Shattuck
Candidate, AL 6th Congressional district

Second open letter to Alabama delegation in Washington

TO: The Honorable Richard Shelby, Jeff Sessions, Bradley Byrne, Martha Roby, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, Spencer Bachus, and Terri Sewell

CC:  6th district candidates

SUBJ: Convention of States under U.S. Constitution Article V; AL HJR49

As I previously informed you, I am a candidate in the Alabama 6th Congressional district primary election.

My campaign platform is that I think that, in Washington DC, there is NOT government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and I further think that the causes of that condition are also causes of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people.  For the past month, I have been endeavoring to instigate debate about my platform among the 6th Congressional district candidates.

There has come to my attention a Convention of States (COS) Project, founded by an organization called Citizens for Self Governance.  Their website homepage baldly says,
The Federal Government is broken. Washington D.C. will never voluntarily relinquish its power. Left unchecked, the government will continue to bankrupt this nation and destroy the liberty of the people. It is time for citizens and the States to act and we have the solution.
The COS Project seeks to urge and empower state legislators to call a convention of states. The delegates at the convention would have the power to propose amendments to the Constitution for limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. Article V of the Constitution gives them this power; the COS Project will give them an avenue through which they can use it.  The plan is for a grassroots campaign.

Alabama appears to be an early actor on an Article V convention of states application. and the Alabama House has passed HJR49. Information about HJR49 can be found at this link.

The COS Project and HJR49 buttress contentions I am making in my campaign platform, and I will use them to continue to press the debate I have been trying to raise in the 6th Congressional district.

It seems entirely appropriate to put questions to you, who have extensive direct experience and knowledge about Washington DC and the Federal Government:

Is the Federal Government "broken"?  How "broken" is it?  Why is it broken?  What do you recommend should be done to try to fix it?

As with my first open letter, please make reply as and to the extent you are willing to do so. Replies may be emailed to me at rdshattuck@gmail.com and will be posted in this blog.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Rob Shattuck

[The foregoing open letter is in the process of being disseminated (via website contact forms, email, and other means as may be needed) to the addressees and to the others designated as being copied. This entry will be updated as appropriate to reflect the progress of such dissemination, and responses that are received.]

[Update: Link to letter has been emailed to Bradley Byrne, Robert Aderholt, Mo Brooks, and the 6th district candidates (except for Scott Beason).  Link to letter has been sent to Senators Shelby and Sessions and Representative Bachus via their U.S. Senate and U.S. House website contact forms]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Convention of States; AL HJR49

I have learned about this today.

The homepage of Convention of States by Citizens for Self-Governance says:

Sunday, March 23, 2014

My American Lawmaker's Creed

In 2011, I composed this My American Lawmaker's Creed.  I wish to discuss a refinement, which has concrete application to my campaign platform.

Lawmakers are frequently confronted with a matter in which the people have general interests on opposite sides at the same time, and in which a very small group of persons have a special, one sided interest.

I discuss this in the fourth paragraph of my General response section of My response to Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire. In that paragraph, I specifically discuss patents and that there are general societal interests that patent life be sufficiently long to entice inventors to expend efforts and resources to invent things that are valuable to society, but that patent life not be excessively long and give inventors more than is needed to entice their efforts. The inventors have a special, one-sided interest in patent lives being long, so they have long protection and more profits from their patents. In this situation, I go on to say that Congress should disregard the special, one-sided interest of inventors and make its decision based on balancing the general societal interests of giving sufficient incentive to inventors but not reward them more than needed to entice their efforts.

This configuration of general interests, and one sided, special interests, is also manifested in the matter of the questionnaire of the National Association of Realtors, which I discuss in An example of what's wrong.  There are several general societal interests which are implicated on different sides of what the questionnaire asks about, including to have a healthy real estate sector of the economy (which can be aided by things such as the mortgage interest and property tax deductions and attraction of investor dollars through securitization and distribution of mortgage loans), to have a simpler or "fairer" income tax code, and to afford investors and homeowners protection against the making and marketing of unsound mortgage loans.  These general societal interests should have predominant weight, compared to the special one sided interest of realtors to have provisions of law that will maximize the buying and selling of homes and the collection of real estate commissions by the realtors.

For ten years or more, I have done a lot of work regarding plaintiffs' lawyers.  I view plaintiffs' lawyers as a prime case in point of there being general societal interests on two opposite sides, which are in need of balancing.  On one side, there is a general interest in people receiving compensation when they are injured by wrongdoing of others and also in deterrence of wrongdoing, and, on the other side, all liabilities, judgments and settlements come out of the pockets of someone in society, and the same need to be closely looked at to evaluate whether anything is going on that is skewed or insufficiently justified to support the taking of moneys from one set of pockets and putting them in another set of pockets.  The plaintiffs' lawyers have a one sided special interest in maximizing the quantum of liabilities, judgments and settlements, which are a source of fees for the plaintiffs' lawyers. Applying what I have said above, I consider that lawmakers who set rules about liabilities and about the determinations of the same should do so virtually exclusively on the basis of balancing the two generalized societal interests that are on the opposite side and should disregard the special, one sided interest of the plaintiffs' lawyers.

The work I have done regarding plaintiffs' lawyers has been very instructive to me about the immense difficulties in having legislative bodies and lawmakers undertake their job in the manner I consider proper, to wit, balancing the general societal interests on both sides and disregarding the special, one sided interest of plaintiffs' lawyers.  It has been illustrative of the potency of one sided special interests of a small group seeking very huge rewards (on a per capita basis), and the weakness of the force to vindicate the more important general interests, which are small (on a per capita) basis.  Further that potency of the one sided special interest is unopposed or only weakly opposed by numerous actors besides lawmakers who have a presence.  These other actors include judges, state attorneys general, regulators, prosecutors, ethics and compliance officers, defense attorneys, and even academics.  (For more information, I have set out in much detail my work regarding plaintiffs' lawyers in a separate blog How To Combat Plaintiffs' Lawyers.)

There are hundreds of potent one sided, special interests, which are hard at work in Washington, and their fundraising, campaign contributions and other activities are significant contributing factors to the defects in governance that my Congressional campaign is about.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Eagle Forum follow up

At the Eagle Forum last night, I think I distinguished myself, gave food for thought to many, opened the minds of a few, and maybe will trigger some campaign helpers to step forward.

Tom Vignuelle spoke first and made emphatic reference to the government being broken.

I spoke pretty much along the lines of the video I did and posted yesterday.  See entry Eagle Forum.  I acknowledged Tom Vignuelle's reference to broken government and said that it was important to diagnose the causes.  My talk contained my diagnosis.

Also, at the end of my talk, I said that I was not an advocate of public funding of elections that had the effect of abridging the right of free speech, and that I thought the money monster problem could be tackled in other ways. (I don't think that is in video.)

After the candidates made their presentations, three questions submitted by the audience were posed to the candidates, and all the candidates gave their answer to each question.

The first question was to the effect of "what could or should be done to keep conservatives who are elected to Congress and who go to Washington from getting 'squishy' when it comes time to take a stand?"  I answered the question by saying to the effect, "this question is part of the 'us against them' mindset, the money monster was on the backs of the whole country, on the backs of Democrats as well as Republicans, and if steps were taken to tackle the money monster problem, dialogue with the other side would become more reasonable, and there would be less concern about squishiness."

The second question asked where the candidate would try to cut spending.  The answer I gave was to the effect of, given Congressional dysfunctionality and a Congress that was not able to pass budgets, or address entitlements, or take up Simpson-Boles, it was almost academic to talk about where spending should be cut, and instead primacy needed to be given to fixing Congress, and after that got going, attention could be given to what spending should be cut.

The third question was whether the candidate, if elected, would vote for John Boehner as Speaker (assuming the Republicans retained control of the House).  My answer was that, given my platform and approach, I did not have a strong view on the matter.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eagle Forum

The Shelby County Republican Women and Eagle Forum are having a forum for the 6h Congressional district candidates at 6:30 pm on March 21, 2014 (today) in the auditorium at Westminster School, which is located at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church. I have done the below video of what I am going to say at the Forum.

[If you cannot see the below embedded video, the youtube link is http://youtu.be/Yhx05T0WIZw.]



See Eagle Forum follow up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Getting other candidates to respond

In my Message to voters in the 6th Congressional district, I set out my "charges" and solicit that they be debated by the candidates.

The other candidates are ignoring my charges.

No matter how much emailing I do personally, the other candidates will have no problem getting away with ignoring my charges.

If you don't want to let that happen, you need to do your bit.

Your bit is first to express your interest by viewing and reading webpages.  Your page views will show up in the count of page views I am reporting in the entry Tracking my campaign's progress.

More importantly, your bit includes passing the message along to your friends, which will hopefully lead to their viewing webpages and adding to the count.

If you have gotten a "Message to voters in the 6th Congressional district" email from me, forward it to your friends with a forwarding message, such as, "I have received this 'Message to voters in the 6th Congressional district.'  I am passing it along to you because I think it is worthy of your and my consideration."

If you have not gotten the "message" email, send your friends the above link, saying such as "My attention has been called to this link Message to voters in the 6th Congressional district.  I am sending the link to you because I think it is worthy of your and my consideration."

This past week there have been about 350 additional pages views on top of the count previously reported as of March 10th.  The pages views must increase much, much more before I can apply any pressure on the other candidates to respond to my charges.

It's in your hands.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

My emailing

Emailing is the main way I have for publicizing my campaign platform.  The email message I am currently sending is this.  By categories, the emailing I have done is set out below.  In your judging of my emailing, please read my Political spamming entry.

To public school teachers and employees
Jefferson County schools- Gardendale High School, Shades Valley High School
Shelby County schools-
Blount County schools- Blountsville Elementary School; Blount County Learning Center;
Chilton County schools- Clanton High School; Clanton Elementary School
Bibb County schools- Centreville Middle School; West Blocton High School; Bibb County High School;
Hoover Schools- Simmons Middle School; Berry Middle School


To university professors and employees
UAB-  I am working my way through academic departments
Samford University- I am working my way through the university directory
University of Montevallo- I am working my way through the university directory


To private school teachers and employees
Altamont School is blocking my email address from sending emails


To staff and employees of private firms and companies
Warren Averett LLC
Kassouf & Co.
JRPrewitt
Alabama Graphics
Luckie & Co.
RealtySouth (partially)
Lewis Communications


Other
YMCA staff at metro area facilities
Hoover Chamber of Commerce email address list- I am working my way through this
Birmingham Track Club members





The Blount Countian profile questionnaire

2014 interview outline for candidates for political office
State House (concise answers)
Personal profile
• name:  Robert Shattuck
• age:  67
• born in: Bryn Mawr, PA ; reside in: Mountain Brook, AL
• how long residing in Blount County or brief statement of
Blount County background/connection if any, with dates:
No Blount County background or connection. 
• family details: spouse’s full name (including maiden); children’s
names/ages; if above not applicable, cite family connections
Wife: Fiona Coyne Shattuck
Sons: Conor Shattuck, age 28; Thomas Shattuck, age 24
Education
• high school attended and graduation year: Shaker Heights High School, Shaker Heights, OH, graduated 1965
• college(s) attended and degree(s) earned w/years, graduation
year(s):  Bucknell University 1965-66; Dartmouth College 1966-69, graduated 1969, B.A. degree
• postgraduate education/other relevant special training: Harvard Law School, 1969-72, J.D. degree;  New York University Law School, 1976-77, LLM. in Taxation
Work background
• currently employed ( or owner of) as ____at____ and duration,
briefly describe job, if not obvious (e.g. if you own/work at
HOT Consultants, Inc., tell what the industry is and briefly
describe your position there): Retired
• brief work history, since high school (or college) to present,prefer
ably with approximate dates (short bullet points):
Variously corporate, tax and bond lawyer, employed at:
Mudge Rose Guthrie & Alexander, New York, NY, 1972-76
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, New York, NY, 1977-79;
Haskell Slaughter & Young, Birmingham, AL, 1979-2003
Organization memberships, leadership positions, previous political
office, etc. (up to five items)  Bar Associations
Why are you running for office? (short paragraph) 
I believe that, in Washington DC, there is NOT government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and that the causes of that condition are also causes of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people.  Further, I believe the political class in Washington personally benefits from the foregoing conditions and will not, of its own accord, try to do what is needed to change those conditions.  Only the citizens acting in concert can force needed changes to be made.  My candidacy is to try to contribute to doing that.
State your qualifications for office.(up to five bullet points)
Superior mental (including quantitative) abilities needed for: understanding and analyzing complex problems (including their budgeting and financial aspects), and conceptualizing, articulating, organizing, prioritizing and executing plans, projects and other activities regarding same.  
Great interest in and substantial knowledge about public policies.
Perseverance in pursuing objectives.
An independent thinker.
State your platform priorities.(up to three bullet-point issues/items)
Because of my above stated belief that there is not government of, by and for the people, and Congress is dysfunctional and unable to do its job properly for the American people, my platform places primacy on Congress and the country undertaking to diagnose the causes of such conditions and agreeing on and implementing a plan to try to correct the conditions.  My platform gives my diagnosis and ideas.  These need to be the subject of national and Congressional discussion and debate out of which there needs to come agreement on a plan that shall be tried. Until the conditions are corrected, there will substantial failures to act and/or errors by Congress, and my platform makes the correction of such conditions of such primacy that there are no other priorities in my platform to mention.
If there is one issue that you would want associated with your candidacy more than any other, what would it be?
I want the above described platform matter associated with my candidacy exclusively.
Candidate’s statement to voters:
I am the only candidate who is discussing, endeavoring to diagnose the causes of, and putting forth ideas for correcting, the conditions of there not being government of, by and for the people in Washington DC, and of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people. This has primacy, because, until those conditions are corrected (or significantly improved), there will continue to be substantial failures to act and/or errors in actions taken by Congress.  The other candidates offer only to be part of those continued failures and errors.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Political spamming

Below are some recent stories/reports about political spamming:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/02/06/move-over-robo-calls-campaigns-turn-to-email-spam-to-inundate-voters/

http://mainsleaze.spambouncer.org/?p=2388

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/when-politicians-embrace-the-power-spam

http://www.dailydot.com/politics/twitter-politics-report-spam-user-ban/

Also, here are two law review articles from 2002 (I think) and 2004:

http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1070&context=dltr

http://www.btlj.org/data/articles/19_04_07.pdf

I have a few comments.

Currently, I am not purchasing any email address lists.

It is my understanding that Google has spam limiting systems in gmail (which is the email I use).  For example, it is my understanding that Google limits a user's sending of emails to about 500 emails a day, which number can be affected by such things as the number of delivery failures or the number of newly acquired email addresses that are utilized.  If the limit is exceeded, Google disables the gmail account from sending emails for 24 hours.

There is a possible silver lining in political spamming.  To the extent voters are angered by the amount of political spam that gets into their email inboxes, voters may be sufficiently riled to say to themselves and their friends, "Who are these jerks who are spamming me/us?  I am going to find out about them to see if there are any who are not jerks, vote for ones who are not jerks, and tell the others they are jerks and I am never going to vote for them."




Thursday, March 13, 2014

Voter discussion and debate

My Open letter to Alabama delegation in Washington solicited Senators Shelby and Sessions and Representative Bachus to comment on whether the charges I am making in my campaign were worthy of discussion and debate in the 6th Congressional district election campaign.  Senator Shelby's office called me and gave me a non-response response.  Senator Sessions and Representative Bachus have not replied. Thus far, to my knowledge, none of the other six candidates have expressed anything about the charges I am making.

I will begin reporting reaction and feedback I am getting from voters.  I will do this on a non-identifying basis. I will give the date of the comment and the comment or an extract from the comment,   If I replied to the commenter, I will also give my reply or an extract from my reply.  If something is in bracked in blue boldface below, it is my response to the comment at this time and not something I said to the commenter at the time.

Voter comment on March 8th
You offer no solutions. Got your message about stagnation and big $$ influence in Washington. So what? Tell us your proposals. Are you aware of the problem? Yes. But, what differentiates you from the next one? To me, anyone who complains without offering a logical solution is worse than the ones we already have.
What are your positions on issues that are important to the people of this district? Abortion? 2nd Amendment? States' rights? Deficit? Size of the fed gov? Without CLEARLY defining these, you will not move out of the gate. Define and purpose your solutions. [My contention is that Congress is dysfunctional and is not properly doing its job for the American people to consider and reach agreement (including compromise agreement) for solving or trying to solve the country's problems.  Fixing that dysfunctionality thus has priority and primacy, because good ideas and solutions can't get acted on until the dysfunctionality is fixed.  My diagnosis is that the money monster in politics is the main cause of the dysfunctionality, the political class in Washington personally benefits from the money monster and will not act of its own accord, and the citizens must act in concert to force the political class in Washington to address the money monster problem.]

Voter comment on March 11th
That is your opinion. Not everyone agrees with that assessment. We have adysfunctional Senate and Executive Branch as well and an over reaching
Judicial Branch. A negative campaign is not the way to go. I do not see
anything in your message that is positive or that you are going to do or
propose. So is that what it is coming to? Just a position for someone to
fill at the taxpayer's expense? There are some informed voters in this
district.
I replied to the commenter as follows:
May I ask whether you think what I am raising is at least worthy of discussion and debate?
As my email indicates, to my knowledge, none of the other six candidates has been willing to say anything, one way or the other, about what I am raising (i.e., they are not even willing to say, "this is not worthy of discussion and debate, and to spend any time on it is a waste of the candidates' time and a waste of the voters' time").
If what I am raising is not worthy of discussion and debate, I guess I will endure being ignored for the next three months and will waste some of candidates' time and voters' time.

Comments after Eagle Forum

One person said to me to the effect of, "What you said probably went over a lot of people's heads, but I understood it."

A second person said to the effect of, "You said things that needed to be said."


.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tracking my campaign's progress

In this entry I will track the progress of my campaign by means of page view information.  I have set the page view counter not to count my own page views.  I will give information about total page views and page views of selected entries.  I had this blog before this 2014 election and will separate out page views from before and after February 8, 2014 (when I began this campaign).

The below information is as of April 18, 2014.


Total page views before February 8, 2014:      6,871
Total page views since February 8, 2014:     4,708


Total page views of selected individual entries
(entry dates are in parentheses):

Open letter to Representative DeMarco (4/17/14)               44 page views

Representative Bachus' response (4/7/14)                             10 page views

National battle plan (2014) (4/5/14)                                       34 page views
                                            
Channel 13 debate video; Commentary (3/31/14)                  77 page views

Second open letter to Alabama delegation (3/25/14)                61 pages views

Eagle Forum video (3/21/14)                                                  73 page views

Senator Shelby's response to open letter (2/26/14)                  148 pages views

Governmental blocking of my political email (2/25/14)               40 page views
Open letter to Alabama delegation in Washington  (2/20/14)      331 page views

My 2014 election (at a glance) (2/8/14)                                    237 page views

Lesterland: The Corruption of Congress and How To End It     343 page views (about 300 page views from before 2/8/14)


Map of 6th Congressional district

The map of the Alabama 6th Congressional district has been in the process of being redrawn following the 2010 census.  For information about the redistricting, see this link:  Redistricting in Alabama - Ballotpedia



9676291-large.jpg (380×284)


Below is the old 6th Congressional district:

AL06_109.gif (630×378)


Below is the new 6th Congressional district:

AL06.png (684×394)


For an interactive map of the new 6th Congressional district, go to this link: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/AL/6

Friday, March 7, 2014

My response to Birmingham Business Alliance questionnaire

112014 Congressional Candidate Questionnaire
6th Congressional District
February 2014
Response of candidate Shattuck

General response

As between government decisions controlling uses of economic resources, and free markets determining how economic resources are utilized, the presumption should be in favor of the latter (because they generally achieve a better result), and justifications of the former should be required on a case by case basis.
A large, intrusive and pervasive Federal government has deleterious consequences that need to be kept in check.  These include (1) a tyranny and stranglehold by Washington DC over the rest of the country, (2) increased importuning by everyone in the society for the government to favor (and not disfavor) them in their respective economic activities, which generalized importuning can result in an indifference about whether there is “good government” otherwise, and (3) an impetus to corruption of the political process due to a commercial mentality that campaign contributions are simply another business expense incurred to contribute to business profitability. 
My campaign charges that, in Washington DC, there is NOT government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and further that the causes of that condition are also causes of Congress being dysfunctional and not able to do its job properly for the American people.  If these charges are true, it elevates the importance of trying to correct those conditions, and diminishes the importance of having positions on matters of economic policy which are academic until Congress is made to function properly.
Government has an important role of trying to determine proper balance of general societal interests, sometimes in a context where a small number of persons have a special, one-sided interest.  Patent life is a good example.  The general societal interests are that patent life be sufficiently long to entice inventors to expend efforts and resources to invent things that are valuable to society, but that patent life not be excessively long and give inventors more than is needed to entice their efforts.  The inventors have a special, one-sided interest in patent lives being long, so they have long protection and more profits from their patents.  In my view, Congress should disregard the special, one-sided interest of inventors and make its decision based on balancing the general societal interests of giving sufficient incentive to inventors but not reward them more than needed to entice their efforts.  Congress doing this job properly is an example of “good government,” which “good government” activity may be neglected if the deleterious things referred to above are occurring.  

Economic Development
1. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is the largest economic driver in the state of Alabama.  What can Congress do to better support this research institution?  My general response is critical of importuning by everyone in the society to get something from the Federal government.  If that is to be curtailed, everyone must be subject to possible curtailment (including UAB).   To the extent generalized importuning continues to go on, UAB and Alabama should participate with full vigor on that.  I am not currently knowledgeable enough to appreciate how big an economic driver UAB is in that state or to have recommendations about what Congress can do to better support UAB.  If elected, I would inquire of UAB and the Birmingham Business Alliance how Congress can better support UAB.

2. The Innovation Act (H.R.3309) recently passed the House of Representatives and awaits approval of the U.S. Senate.  “Patent trolling” continues to be a concern as technology and innovation interests are significant in our region.  What are your thoughts on the matter?   I specifically mentioned patents in my above general response because I saw this question.  There is important balancing for Congress to do about patents, as described in my general response.  All members of Congress should be vigilant about whether Congress is doing this job properly. The phenomenon of “trolling” is something that comes within the purview of this Congressional balancing.  I do not know whether H.R. 3309 is a manifestation of Congress doing its balancing job properly or not.   If elected, I would do my best to determine whether H.R. 3309 is or is not a proper balancing by Congress, and I would act in my role as a member of the House of Representatives accordingly.

Transportation
3. The Northern Beltline is soon to begin construction on the first section in northeast Jefferson County.  Do you support full funding and completion of this project?     The Northern Beltline is a very large regional project, which has very significant ramifications for how and where the metropolitan area will grow, and different areas will be affected differently by the project.  Many persons in the metropolitan area have substantial, and varying commercial, environmental and demographic interests in the project.  I personally don’t have strong views about the project.  To the extent there are strong, opposing views about the project, I would endeavor to determine what is  “best.”  For this purpose, I don’t have a view at this juncture whether “best” should be determined with reference to only the 6th Congressional district or with reference to the entire affected metropolitan area.  I further don’t know what the parameters are of the involvement of the Federal government in the project.

4. The latest transportation reauthorization bill (MAP-21) is set to expire at the end of September 2014.  Do you (1) support passage of a long-term, multi-year transportation reauthorization bill?  And (2) would you support a bill that provides for an increase in federal investment in transportation infrastructure?   I am ignorant about MAP-21 at present and don’t have a view at present.

Education
5. What is your view on Common Core Standards (adopted as Alabama’s College and Career Ready Standards)?  For more than 20 years we have been hearing about the failure of education in the United States.  I don’t know whether to judge that the failure has gotten progressively worse during the past 20 years, or whether improvements are being made and there is reason to be optimistic, or whether conflicting views and politics have been persistently intractable, so that Federal, state and local governments persistently perform poorly in their roles on the education front.  In all the efforts, theories and ideas about  improving failed education in the United States during the past twenty years, I am ignorant about and don’t have a view on Common Core Standards. 

Health Care
6. What is your view on the Affordable Care Act and what, if anything, would you like to see changed?  The Affordable Care Act is a leading example of government in Washington DC not being “of, by and for” the people, and of a dysfunctional Congress making great and costly errors.  Health care law and health care reform constitute the biggest and most difficult economic, social and political matter to deal with in the United States.  A government in Washington that is “of, by and for” people, and a properly functioning Congress, are not likely to happen anytime soon.  Generally, I would like to see a “public” health care sector and a “private” health care sector. with clear budgeting and taxpayer funding of the “public” sector.

7. Entitlement programs continue to consume a large portion of the nation’s budget (primarily Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security).  Given our region’s significant health care industry, what is your view on entitlement reform?   I agree with those who say entitlements are on an unsustainable trajectory, and either Congress proactively gets control over that trajectory, or else U.S. debt markets enter a catastrophic territory, and there is a unpredictable, undesirable and abrupt wrenching of entitlement programs and other things affecting the country’s fiscal health.

Energy Policy
8. Over the past few years, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies have increased their regulatory activity without the oversight of Congress.  Please provide your view on whether or not Congress should play a more integral role in agency regulatory actions?   Regulations are promulgated pursuant to authority given by statutory law.  Sometimes the statutory law gives the agency more discretion and sometimes less discretion in what the agency may promulgate by regulation.  It is the province of the judiciary to determine whether a regulation exceeds the authority granted to the agency.  If the judiciary determines that a regulation is authorized under the existing statutory law, Congress needs to amend the statutory law.   If there are enough votes to amend the law, Congress  should amend the law.  If some members of Congress disapprove of a regulation, but there are not enough votes to amend the law, the members of Congress who disapprove of the regulation are stymied.  [I will make a gratuitous response about energy policy.  There are generalized societal interests that are in need of balancing by Congress, to wit, a societal interest in having energy and a societal interest in protecting the environment.  Acknowledging that different persons could reasonably do that balancing differently, I believe a dysfunctional Congress is impaired in reasonably arriving at compromise in doing the balancing.]

Labor & Workforce
9. Immigration reform continues to be at the forefront of discussion in Washington. Many states have begun or have already passed individual immigration laws due to the federal government’s inaction.  What is your view on this issue?    I think Congress should pass immigration reform.   I think states, if they want to, should be able to pass their individual immigration laws, except that the validity of any such laws depends on their being constitutional, as determined by the U.S. Supreme Court.  I don’t advocate an amendment to the U.S. Constitution if the U.S. Supreme Court decides that an individual law is unconstitutional in whole or in part.
10. What is your view on a possible minimum wage increase?  I think there should be a minimum wage increase.

Congressional Policy
11. Do you believe Congress should regain the appointment authority of discretionary “earmarks” in the next appropriations cycle?   No. Apparently the argument is being made that Congress is dysfunctional and unable to act because members of Congress cannot be bribed for votes with earmarks.  See this December 29, 2012 Forbes article http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/12/29/why-congress-cannot-operate-without-the-bribing-power-of-earmarks/   My campaign has its own diagnosis of Congressional dysfunctionality, and what is needed to correct that condition, and I don’t agree with the argument that the solution is to return to earmarks.