Wednesday, April 30, 2014

On to Palmer and Vignuelle

[Draft; to be completed]

Having done the DeMarco, Brooke and Mathis questions in the candidate essay and online discussion event, I need to wrap up with the Palmer and Vignuelle questions.


The question to Gary Palmer is to explain why government needs grassroots reform from the bottom up, and how he'd work to achieve it.

"That government functions best when it is closest to the people."

Guess where that quotation comes from? 

It comes from the Alabama State Democratic Party Executive Committee Principles, Article I. (Link is here.)

OK, Candidate Palmer, Candidate Shattuck, and the Dems are in agreement on that.

I think Washington DC, with its powers over taxation, spending and pervasive regulation and intrustion into the economy, has a stranglehold over the rest of the country.

The government in Washington works hard at tightening its grip over us out in the hinterlands.

Witness the coercion practiced by Congress in the expansion of Medicaid.  If you, a State, go along with the Medicaid expansion, we, in Washington, will cover almost all your increased costs.  Don't go along with what we in Washington want, and you, a State, will get nothing.

Or how about the health care exchanges? Congress wanted to force its vision of health care exchanges on the States by writing the law to say the tax subsidies would be available only for health insurance obtained through a state created exchange, and would not be available if a State did not create a health care exchange and residents got their health insurance through the Federal exchange.

Ooops.  Congress miscalculated there about its coercive power over us in the hinterlands.  Numerous uppity States did not create health care exchanges, and now there is a big problem to work out that the law does not provide for tax subsidies for residents of a State that did not create a health care exchange.  This mess is augmented by implications for whether there are penalties or not under the mandate for individuals and employees. (For more info, see this Forbes article.)

My campaign says that the political class in Washington enjoys the personal power and wealth which it derives from the legal and political power of the Federal government over the rest of us, and is inclined to not let the Federal government let go of that legal and political power. 

I will leave it to Gary to explain what strategy and tactics he is going to use, which he thinks will be successful, in wresting what he wants away from the Federal government.

I will also leave it to Gary to indicate the scope of his ideas and how far they will go in affecting the really big problems of the national debt and health care, etc.

Maybe Gary will even comment on his ideas about how to get grassroots reform from the bottom up, compared to my plan for an uprising of voters across the country to regain in Washington DC, government of the people, by the people and for the people, and a Congress that works for the American people.


Tom Vignuelle's question is to explain why he favors getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with a consumption tax.

I have the obvious comment that I do not think there is a functioning Congress that is capable of making such a change, and the matter is academic for the time being.

If I get more energy before tomorrow, I may say more here.

[Update 5/11: I believe it is the case that Palmer and Vignuelle never submitted their essays.]

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Let's deconstruct what the other answers will be

[draft; to be completed]

Today's question in the candidate essay and online discussion event was the question for Representative DeMarco about the EPA killing small business.  Before I saw Rep. DeMarco's essay, I posted this.  I stand on that posting after seeing Rep. DeMarco's essay, and that posting should indicate how I am going to deconstruct other candidates' answers before they give their answers. said essays will be posted alphabetically, but said DeMarco's essay would be posted first.  I don't know whether Will Brooke will be tomorrow, or whether alphabetical after DeMarco will be followed. The question for Will Brooke is probably of greatest concern to the voters, so let's start with that.

Brooke question regarding Federal budget  

The question for Will Brooke is to explain his idea of a gradual process towards a balanced Federal budget.

We have heard all the candidates decry the staggering, and ever mounting, national debt, and what our children and grandchildren are going to be saddled with.

Do the candidates think average Democrats and average independents sit around at dinner parties and gleefully watch the U.S. National Debt Clock race through $250,000,000 or so (even before they get to dessert!) and cheer, "yeh, go baby go"?  I don't think so.  I think average Democrats and average independents are extremely bothered and worry greatly for their children and grandchildren too.

Do the other candidates think all average Democrats and average independents want to continue to increase spending and increase taxes more, without regard to consequences for the economy?

Do the other candidates think average Democrats and average independents are smitten with Federal government waste, bloat and inefficiencies?

How much more willing are Republicans, than Democrats and independents, to hold back Social Security benefit increases or reduce Medicare spending and benefits?

How much more willing are Republicans, than Democrats and independents, to give up generous student loan programs, including scheduled forgiveness of student loans?

Of persons who are at 100% of poverty level or slightly above, and who receive tax subsidies which almost completely cover their health insurance premiums, how many are Republicans, how many are Democrats, and how many are independents?  Will those who are Republicans be more willing to give up their tax subsidies if the Affordable Care Act is repealed?

Do the other candidates point fingers exclusively at Democrats for the failure of Congress to agree on budgets and take steps to get a grip on the national debt?

I have been saying throughout this campaign that Congress has performed abysmally or has plain stopped functioning for the American people. Call what Congress has exhibited the past couple of years "antics" or something else, it is appalling and disgusting.

How bothered by their abysmal performance is the political class in Washington?  I think it is less bothered by this, than by worry about whether somehow they won't stay in office or worry about having their power and wealth reduced.

The other candidates don't want to talk about the political class in Washington and whether it has put its personal interests too much ahead of the interests of the American people, and what is needed to change that.  This is going to make Will Brooke's answer to his question an inadequate answer.

What can we speculate that Will Brooke will say, before he says it?

Will he start with Congressman Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget, and go from there?  Congressman Ryan has much personal knowledge and expertise, and has substantial staff and other resources to draw upon, about ways for Congress to deal with the budget and get a grip on the national debt.  Will Will Brooke hold himself out that he knows better than Congressman Ryan how to move to a balanced budget?

What will Will Brooke say about the politics of his ideas?  What can Will Brooke tell the voters about the politics of the Path to Prosperity budget?  Can Will Brooke say anything more than: "Here are some ideas I have.  Unfortunately I have no basis for encouraging you to think I or my ideas will make one whit of difference in Washington in the next two years."

We will see.

My entry Dear Cheryl re RWOT May 1 candidate forum expresses my skepticism about what Will Brooke will have to offer in what he says.

Next, Chad Mathis on waste, fraud and abuse, etc.

[edit 4/30 9 am.  An email just advised that Dr. Mathis' essay will be about government shutdown. I will leave the below alone and not do anything to accommodate what the email advised.]

The Federal government is gargantuan, and waste, fraud and abuse are gargantuan.

The Justice Department has a huge Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program.  We'll see if Dr. Mathis thinks he has ideas for improving that program, and his ideas are a reason for voters to vote for him.*

Every Secretary of Defense has a super human challenge in trying control bloat and waste in the Defense Department.  This is due to (i) the monstrous size of the Defense Department; (ii) the great difficulty in weighing costs and benefits of categories of expenditures for personnel, equipment, weapons and research and development; (iii) politics and desires of lawmakers for their home states, (iv) a military bureaucracy as to which it can be hard to separate out what is self-serving from what serves the national interest, and (v) the critical importance of national security, which can engender a "better safe than sorry" thinking. We'll see whether Dr. Mathis has anything to offer for how the Secretary of Defense can be more effective in controlling bloat and waste in the Defense Department.

In 2011, I read an interesting book Top Secret America, and it led me to do this entry: Top Secret Corruption. I am at a loss about how to deal with Top Secret Corruption (and Waste and Abuse).  If Dr. Mathis has some suggestions, I am all ears.

The political class in Washington, keenly on the lookout for itself, does not have the highest motivation regarding waste, fraud and abuse.  Attacking waste, fraud and abuse too aggressively may step on the toes of others in the Washington political class, who get some benefit from the waste, fraud and abuse in their domain, and that could invite retaliation against the political class member who is too aggressive.  Also, aggressiveness may tick off constituents,voters, and other donors, and lose a lawmaker campaign contributions and other support.

A good recent example is the protracted battle that The Wall Street Journal had to wage in order to get access to information about Medicare payments to doctors in order to try to expose fraud and abuse in Medicare. It is understandable that the AMA (I think) resisted the public getting access to the information in question, and the political class in Washington preferred not being in the forefront in allowing the public access to the information.

The rise in claims and payouts under the Social Security disability program has attracted a lot of attention recently.  See this Cato Institute article.  How quickly or slowly Congress reacts to this remains to be seen. It is fair to say it is not high on the priority list of the political class in Washington, and it is another good example of how Congress is not working for the American people.

To change the foregoing requires changing the ways of Washington.  Throughout this campaign I have endeavored to engage the other candidates about what is needed to change the ways of Washington.  They have steadfastly declined to engage about this, and all they have done is fatuously say to the voters, "All you need to do is to elect me, and I will go to Washington and change it for you."  See Dr. Mathis is fatuous and stupid Open letter to Representative DeMarco; and Dear Dolores.

I have basically been saying it is going to take a nationwide uprising of the voters to change the ways of Washington  See National battle plan (2014).  You may say that is never going to happen, and you may be right.  At least you should be clear that just about everything you are hearing from the other candidates is a lot of hokum, which is not going to happen either, and you should at least have your eyes open about that.
* Dr. Mathis may contend that private parties and health insurance companies are better at preventing or ferreting out health care fraud than is the government, and he may use that when he goes to Washington and embarks on repealing and replacing Obamacare.  I think Dr. Mathis is deluding himself in thinking he will be anything but essentially a nullity on health care in the Congress.  I would be interested in Dr. Mathis speak about what he thinks he knows about the politics of health care.  If he hasn't read them, I recommend he read Inside National Health Reform, by John E. McDonough (concerning the enactment of the Affordable Care Act), and THE SYSTEM: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, by Haynes Johnson and David S. Broder (regarding the 1994 effort at health care reform). I suppose it is possible Dr. Mathis could become the next Newt Gingrich. Voters will have to decide for themselves about that.

CONTINUED AT:   On to Palmer and Vignuelle questions and answers is having this multiple day candidate essay and online discussion event.  It starts at 10 am today.

For two and a half months, the other candidates have refused to confront the question of, "Has Congress stopped functioning for the American people, or not?"  I have said it has, and they can't bring themselves to say one way or the other.

As a result, the answers the other candidates are going to give to their questions are going to be highly inadequate.

Let's turn to those question, and start with the one which Representative DeMarco is going to answer today about the EPA killing small business.

My campaign has been talking about a political class in Washington DC that is unduly interested in its own wealth and power, and in keeping and increasing that wealth and power, to the great, great detriment of the American people.  Regulators in Washington are part of that political class and are very interested in their power.  I believe environmentalists have gained a disproportionate amount of power and influence over decision making in Washington regarding matters that affect the environment, which results in decision making that is not reflective of where the preponderance of the sentiment of the entire citizenry of the country lies.

Let's take EPA regulations that "kill small business."  I don't think average Democrats and average independents want to" kill small business."  To the contrary, I think they want small business to be robustly thriving and to provide as many jobs as possible.  In making any reasonable balance of environmental concerns and how small business is affected, I am sure there are many, many EPA regulations as to which average Republicans, average Democrats, and average independents would say, "this is ridiculous."

Yet, there the EPA goes, merrily on its way.

How does this happen?

It's this political class in Washington that I am talking about.  If you are a member of that political class, and you have gotten what you want for yourself, why put up much of a fuss if there are environmentalist members of that political class who want, and exercise, their preferred powers.  Heck, if you put up too much of a fuss, those environmentalist members of the D.C. political class may go after some of your powers.

So, the EPA has gone its merry way for many years, and Representative DeMarco, if he is elected, will have no effect on the EPA continuing to go its merry way.

Continued at Let's deconstruct what the other answers will be.

This will publish on at 7:30 am today

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- Following a recent forum with the candidates for congressional District 6, we at Alabama Media Group asked each candidate to further expound on answers they gave during the forum.

(Candidate Scott Beason, after confirming that he would be at the forum, chose not to attend.)

The candidates --  Will BrookePaul DeMarcoChad MathisGary PalmerRobert Shattuck and Tom Vigneulle -- were asked to submit a 600-word opinion-editorial sharing their more in-depth thoughts on a given topic.

We asked Brooke to explain what he said should be a gradual process toward a balanced federal budget.

DeMarco was asked to explain how the Environmental Protection Agency is "killing small business" and what he'll do to stop it.

Mathis was asked to give examples of waste, fraud and abuse and explain how he'll prevent it, along with the pitfalls of omnibus bills and how to prevent them.

We asked Palmer to explain why government needs grassroots reform from the bottom up, and how he'd work to achieve it.

Shattuck said the main difference between him and his opponents is that he realizes that Congress no longer works for the American people. We asked him to explain what that meant, and how it would benefit the residents of District 6.

Vigneulle was asked to explain why he favors getting rid of income taxes and replacing the current tax system with a consumption tax. 

So far, DeMarco, Mathis and Shattuck have responded. Beginning at 10 this morning, we will publish their opinions one per day in alphabetical order, starting with DeMarco. The candidates have been asked to be available online from 10 a.m.-11 a.m. each day to respond to your comments on each article. 

We encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities to have direct interaction with the candidates for this important congressional seat. 

We'll be there, too.

See you in a little while.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Dear Cheryl re RWOT May 1 candidate forum

Dear Cheryl,

I am writing in anticipation of this week's candidate forum being hosted by the Republican Women of Trussville.

Much has transpired in the 6th Congressional district race since RWOT sent out its invitation in early March.

The leading candidates have reported campaign funds in the $800,000 range, and TV ad campaigns are underway.

I have no campaign funding, and I am using the Internet and social media to the maximum extent I can, coupled with sponsored events and media coverage that are provided to me.

This week, I am going to be trying to join some issues, including at the forum on Thursday.

Regarding TV ads of Representative DeMarco and Will Brooke, I have posted on my campaign website this Open letter to Representative DeMarco and this entry More Will Brooke Kool Aid.  Also, the entry Dear Dolores concerns things Will Brooke said at a West Bount County Chamber of Commerce meeting.

At the meeting of The Birmingham News editorial board with the candidates last Monday, one of the questions was about negative advertising in TV ads, and the question solicited reaction by the targets.  In giving my response to the question, I said, while I had done no TV ads, I had mentioned two candidates by name on my campaign website and had referred to a third candidate by describing things the candidate had said.  I said to the Editorial Board I was interested in hearing what the candidates in question thought about what I had said about them.  Two of the candidates gave no comment, and the third candidate said there was nothing that warranted a response from him.

Let me say a couple things regarding More Will Brooke Kool Aid

"Kool Aid", I think, connotes something lethal being laced in. That is justified insofar as the target is being distracted from being aware of a dire risk for the target. I think that applies, but I am willing to pull back, and just say "hokum." A serious candidate would have started with Congressman Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget and gone from there. See my "Press release" re Path to Prosperity and my "Press release"-- My discussion of Path to Prosperity. I stand by my ridiculing of Will Brooke's TV ad, and that it is just so much hokum.

Of course, Will Brooke has the campaign funds to run his TV ad many times, and I am limited in the audience I can reach to ridicule the ad.

Whether Matt Murphy, Richard Dixon, Dale Jackson or JT will call Will Brooke on his TV ad remains to be seen.

Finally, I mention that Gary Palmer has not responded to Would Gary Palmer please comment?

Thus, the foregoing are issues I am going to try to join this week, and I expect to use my five minutes at the RWOT forum on Thursday to further that.

Thank you very much

Rob Shattuck

Sunday, April 27, 2014

They are starting to take notice

They are starting to take notice out there.

Joshua Holland @JoshuaHol, senior digital producer at Moyers & Company, who wrote Friday's Lawrence Lessig Has a “Moonshot” Plan to Halt Our Slide Toward Plutocracy article, has retweeted me to his  8,551 followers.

Just think about @Lessig weighing in with a retweet of me to his 285 K followers.

Hey Matt, Richard, JT, Dale:  Set this Congressional race up as "The Yardsigns versus The Tweets." (Or "Yardies v. Tweets" for short, I guess.)

May should be a heck of a fun month.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Hey Matt and Richard

I have thrown some good meat Dale Jackson's way. See updated Can Dale Jackson Handle the Truth? 

I hope Dale can get some of the candidates on the record about these items. You guys should work on it too.

It would be super to fill up my scrapbook here with podcasts of new and interesting stuff from the candidates. What Congress needs to do to fix the U.S. debt is getting a little boring, if you know what I mean.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Is AL06 ready for May 1 launch of Lessig "Moonshot"?

Lessig Blog, V2

Lawrence Lessig Has a “Moonshot” Plan to Halt Our Slide Toward Plutocracy

Dear Anthony: re slow Friday afternoon

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 5:30 PM
Subject: Dear Anthony: re slow Friday afternoon
To: Anthony Cook <>
Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Scott Beason <>, "" <>

Dear Anthony,

I am having a slow, late Friday afternoon, so I thought I would write again.

I know I don't exist for the other candidates, and they will not respond to anything I write about, but what the heck, eh?

In my "Press release" re suggestion for improving Congress, I propose the idea of using our fantastic data capture and collection technology to create "open" Congressional offices, and that there would be no private communications between a Congressional office and the outside world.  I think this idea could go a long way in changing the way Washington works.

In my telephone interview with Dale Jackson yesterday (podcast here), Dale did not think much of idea.

Let's explore the idea a little.

It would emphatically put at the mental forefront that lawmakers are public servants who are there to serve all their constituents. Particular constituents may be favored, but no one should be favored secretly.

The long practice and experience that governments have with "sunshine laws" might be helpful in approaching my "open" Congressional offices idea.  For info about "sunshine laws", see this link.

The idea needs to put up for discussion so we can begin to hear what arguments there are to be made against the idea.  Two of the candidates are state legislators, and surely they could give views and particularly arguments they have, if they think the idea is not a good idea from the point of view of a lawmaker's constituents.

Let's talk about mechanics. I would envision lawmakers and staffers having two cellphones, one for their strictly personal lives and the other for their Congressional office job.  The chip for the latter would capture all use, and the information on the chip would be uploaded daily to the data collection function of the "open" office platform, where it would be organized and searchable on the Internet.  I know that can seem very much an imposition, but remember these are public servants, and willingness to incur such an imposition would demonstrate a commitment to public service.

The cellphones would do data capture of meetings outside the office, and other data capture would be done with in office meetings and office computer use and electronic communications,etc.

As with "sunshine laws," there would be exceptions, including that there could be standards and conditions for when a constituent would be allowed to have private communications with a Congressional office.  I would be very interested in learning what our state legislator candidates think should be exceptions.

Everyone in society is now being exposed to massive, massive data capture and collection, and our society is trying to figure out how to deal with it.  Some of the data capture and collection is or will be viewed as wrongful or otherwise subject to legal prohibition. Will Brooke has said that lawmakers should be subject to the same things as the rest of us.  Let them make the case why the data capture and collection under my idea should not be implemented.

It is, of course, highly dubious that our Congress would voluntarily take the steps needed to impose my "open" office idea on themselves.

Thus the idea would only be an idea that the voters would force Congress to consider as part of its grand reform plan that it presents to the American people before November under my National Battle Plan.

Okey doke, Anthony, that's it for now on this slow Friday afternoon.  Don't let it interfere with your weekend.  I am sure the other candidates won't let it interfere with theirs.



Dear Anthony re: Today's noodling

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 1:45 PM
Subject: Dear Anthony re: Today's noodling
To: Anthony Cook <>
Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Scott Beason <>, "" <>

How are you doing today, Anthony?  

I hope the Editorial Board appreciates my missives, the stonewalling of the other candidates notwithstanding.

I think I am managing to dig through the important stuff about why Congress has stopped functioning for the American people.

Consider as today's important stuff  My American Lawmaker's Creed, and the discussion there about lawmakers being 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. 

As I articulate in The GM faulty ignition recall entry, in these situations, my American lawmaker's creed principle is that lawmakers should make their decisions 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 small group.

That entry concludes: "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."

It it a little tiresome putting all this stuff together in the other candidates' vacuum, so I will leave it at the above for today.  (It is probably not easy for you to keep yourself from being sucked into that vacuum.)

Have a great weekend, Anthony.  I'll probably write more over the weekend.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Where Does Changing Washington's Ways Stand?

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 3:53 PM
Subject: Re: Further about my draft
To: Anthony Cook <>
Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Scott Beason <>, "" <>

Thanks, Anthony.  I think it is likely I will basically go with the draft I sent you.  I will do some final editing on it and put in a link as I suggested. You will have to decide whether that is OK. I will get the final version to you on Monday.

In the meantime, I wish to continue to develop my answers, at least for the benefit of the Editorial Board. Let's talk about:

Where Does Changing Washington's Ways Stand?

Let's do a little history lesson.

In the WERC forum, I said that, just that morning, I had posted on my campaign website information about a book called So Damn Much Money, by Robert Kaiser  Take a look at my posting here

In speaking to the fourm, I used from my posting Kevin Phillips' book review terminology of lobbyists having "hijacked" the government.  I think it would be useful for the Editorial Board to read all the book review squibs on the aforesaid posting, which come from many well known names.

Next, the Editorial Board should review the K Street Project, which was initiated by the Republicans in the mid-1990's.  Wikipedia article is here.

Next, consider Jack Abramoff, who became the poster boy of K Street corruption, and, who, after serving prison time, published in 2011, Capitol Punishment. The Hard Truth About Washington Corruption From America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist.  Wikipedia links for Abramoff and the book are here and here

Further, consider how Republican corruption scandals played a role in the Republicans losing control of the House in the 2006 elections. Wikipedia article is here.

In the 2008 election, both McCain and Obama made corruption and earmarks issues in their campaigns. (I believe I have copy and pastes in my files from the McCain and Obama 2008 campaign websites, which show this, but I have not yet found them.).

Many thought Obama would try to bring about reform in Washington.  Kaiser's book was published in 2009, and note the Carl Bernstein squib referring to "glimps[ing] a path toward reform–as a new president and Congress take office.”

Lessig wrote in 2010 of Obama essentially doing a "bait and switch" on reform. See his article in The Nation here.

Then there is Lessig's article in Atlantic this month, which is here.

I have said the other candidates have been fatuous and stupid and serving Kool Aid in what they have been saying to the voters about changing Washington's ways, and I continue to say that.

The little history which is set forth above helps frame the following question:

What, if anything, should the candidates in the 6th Congressional district race be saying to the voters about changing the ways of Washington?

[Also, think "what should The Birmingham News be saying, in an editorial, to the voters about the same, if anything?"]

Once these questions are noodled around, then comes the "hardie" question:  Does this subject have anything to do with a Congress that has stopped functioning for the American people?

If so, is there anything that can be done about it?  Or are the American people just stuck with the situation?

Toodaloo for today.



On Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 10:26 PM, Anthony Cook <> wrote:
These are all interesting thoughts, and I certainly see why you feel a need to be thorough with your response.
Please feel free to continue thinking it through, and then send me a final version on Monday.

Can Dale Jackson Handle the Truth?

In my telephone interview with Dale Jackson this morning, I had a long pause when Dale asked me what I would do about the debt.

The reason I paused is because I have serious questions about whether our Congress, or any Congress we elect, is going to be able to deal with the debt by its own voluntary accord.

At the end of the interview, Dale gave me another chance and I explained why I had paused.  I went on to say that my expectation and prediction is that our Congress will not be able voluntarily to deal with the debt, and the debt will ultimately get dealt with by the bond markets and foreign holders, such as the Chinese.

When that happens, gale forces are going to sweep through United States government finance, spending, taxes and governmental programs, with things basically then happening by main force and awkwardness and with very unpredictable outcomes.

What does Dale think?  Can he handle the truth about the severe risk that no Congress is not going to be able to get a grip on the debt, and it will be the bond markets and foreign holders which force the U.S. to deal with its debt and which unleashes gale forces that sweep through  United States government finance, spending, taxes and governmental programs, with main force and awkwardness and with very unpredictable outcomes.?  Tell us, Dale, can you handle that truth?

And, yes, Dale, voters should vote for me on June 3rd because I have a greater sense of the foregoing risk and thereby have a smidgen of possibility of helping out, and the other candidates are being idiots in trying to purvey that their ideas about what to do are worth anything that the voters should take into account in making their voting decisions.

Below is link to podcast:

My interview with Dale

Update 1:  If there is one thing I am not, it is intellectually lazy.  We'll see whether Dale can do some flexing of his brain.  I have solicited whether he would like to interview me on the subject of

Where Does Changing Washington's Ways Stand?

Update 2:  I am also going to see whether Dale would like to have further discussion about More Will Brooke Kool Aid, which I have updated with some neat questions.

Update 3:  On health care, my thinking got started about 20 years ago, evidenced by this op/ed piece I got published in The Birmingham News in 1994 relative to Hillarycare: Answer The Questions Before Voting. Some of the things I have learned since are reflected in my "Press release" re Rep. DeMarco's issue positions.

Update 4: I am very interested in getting more discussion going on my "open" Congressional offices idea. See Dear Anthony: re slow Friday afternoon.

Update 5: Also, please add to the list My American Lawmaker's Creed.  See Dear Anthony re: Today's noodling.

More Will Brooke Kool Aid

I guess Professor Brooke believes Congress is going to start functioning again upon his arrival.

Suggestion for Professor Brooke:  In his next video, could Professor Brooke please explain to the voters what is wrong with Congressman Ryan's Path to Prosperity budget, and why voters, after straining their brains over that 100 page nutcracker from two weeks ago, need to torture their noodles into the intricacies of the above diagrammed Rubik's Cube under The Brooke Plan?

Also, does Professor Brooke have the politics of his Rubik's Cube buttoned up?  I can't say I have done a lot of noodling about Path to Prosperity politics, but I have wondered a little. See My discussion of Path to Prosperity.

Maybe Citizen Will  is about to be discovered as a new political genius for our time.  If I heard correctly at the West Blount Chamber of Commerce meeting last Thursday, Citizen Will is pretty sure he is going to be able to slip through a term limits House bill shortly after his arrival in Washington next January.  I can't remember whether Will said he would be able to get it through the U.S. Senate as well. See Dear Dolores. I am sure Will will clarify this in due course.

So, if Will can do the foregoing with term limits, maybe his above Rubik's Cube is a real keeper for the Alabama 6th Congressional district.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dear Anthony: Further about my draft

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Wed, Apr 23, 2014 at 5:36 PM
Subject: Further about my draft
To: Anthony Cook <>
Cc: "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, "" <>, Scott Beason <>,, "" <>

Dear Anthony,

This is further to the email and draft I sent you yesterday.

I don't think the other candidates are going to answer anything.  

What I would like to do, if I could, is put a link at the end of my 600 words, which link would take interested readers to my campaign website where I would like to have discussion of questions 2 and 3, and even more discussion of question 1.

To advance my goal of informing the Editorial Board as much as possible, I am going to proceed with more discussion of question number 1 in this email.

This additional discussion works at helping readers (and the Editorial Board) decide whether Congress has stopped functioning for the American people, to such an extent so that the follow up questions should be asked of, why has that happened, and what can be done to try to fix it.

Here is additional evidence to consider about question 1, which to a great extent comes from the other candidates.

I think it is fair to say that the other candidates have harped ont the out of control national debt and what our children and grandchildren are going to be saddled with.  In his opening statement in the WERC forum, Chad Mathis stated that the national debt is over $17 trillion, "and that's why today I am announcing my agenda for fiscal responsibility . . .."  Will Brooke referred to the failure of Congress to pass budgets.

I agree,  This is big failure by Congress, and it contributed hugely to the F grade I gave Congress.

The other candidates have pointed out numerous other shortcomings of government and Congress.

This has been coupled with the other candidates emphasizing in their campaigns that the ways of Washington need to be changed, and they have put in the forefront in their appeals to the voters that they, respectively, are the best of the candidates for changing Washington.

There has, however, been a problem with this, which is that it has led to some of the other candidates putting out fatuous nonsense, and I have said so. See (i) Dr. Mathis is fatuous and stupid, (ii) Open letter to Representative DeMarco, and (iii) Dear Dolores. At the meeting of the Editorial Board with the candidates, I solicited the specific candidates to comment on what I had said about them. Two of the candidates said nothing, and the third said he did not think anything I had said called for a response. Readers and the Editorial Board can decide for themselves about the candidates' fatuous nonsense, or not.

Readers (and the Editorial Board) trying to answer question 1 for themselves can thus consider this:  What candidate would put himself in a position of talking fatuous nonsense about being able to change Washington, unless it was clear that there was a great need for changing Washington, and the candidate knew it and thus considered it very important to say something about it to the voters?

So, while the other candidates have steadfastly refused to answer my question 1 expressly, their own campaigning should be very suggestive to the voters that the other candidates have a great deal of agreement with my answer to question 1 (Congress has stopped functioning for the American people).

Let's leave the question dangling, if the other candidates agree with me, what their problem has been in giving an express answer to question 1.

I would also like to touch on Gary Palmer's pitch about his network of local think tanks and his wanting, with respect to problems that Congress is unable to its job regarding at the Federal level, to push them down for handling at the local level. I don't know how far Gary is prepared to carry this idea, such as whether Gary thinks that is basically what will take care of the entire out of control national debt that Congress is unable to do its job about.  To me, this idea of Gary's of pushing down to the local level seems very, very limited in scope, and much more than that idea is needed. I hope Gary will elaborate on this.

Also, I want to comment on Gary's reference in the WERC forum to the possibility of the Republicans taking control of the Senate in the 2014 elections.  I will save that for later.

This is enough "food for thought" for today.

Thanks, Anthony.



On getting fed up with the other candidates

From: Rob Shattuck <>
Date: Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 3:10 PM
Subject: Re: follow-up to District 6 forum
To: Anthony Cook <>

Dear Anthony,

I am transmitting a draft. I am going to let my draft sit for a couple of days and then return to it.

I am bothering to send you a draft for a couple of reasons.

My matter is complex in having three parts: These are 1. Has Congress basically stopped functioning (very, very poor and inadequate performance)? 2. If so, why? and 3. If so, what recommendations does one have to improve the performance?

The other candidates have steadfastly resisted answering the first question, one way or the other. So, in the draft, I have used my 600 words to deal with question 1.

That is obviously incomplete for my purposes, and I am not sure what to do about it.

Whatever I wind up presenting to readers, I want the Editorial Board to have my answers to all three questions. Sending you the draft at least gets you started on my complex matter, and hopefully will provoke interest in learning my answers to all three questions.

Thanks for this opportunity, and I will be back in touch again soon.

Rob Shattuck


On Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 12:22 PM, Anthony Cook <> wrote:
Mr. Shattuck
We truly appreciate your participation in the and Birmingham News forum on yesterday.
As a follow-up to the forum, the editorial board is asking each candidate to write a brief editorial further expounding on one of the answers given during the forum.
For you specifically, we’d like to ask that you further expound on your response to the question about how you differ from your opponents.
You said differ most from your opponents because you realize that Congress doesn’t function for the American people. Can you explain what you meant by that, and how that will benefit residents of District 6?
Please keep your essay to 600 words or fewer and email it to me,, by noon Monday, April 28.
We plan to publish these in reverse alphabetical order – one candidate essay each day beginning Tuesday, April 29, at 10 a.m. When we publish your essay, it’ll also include your video explaining why you’re the best candidate for District 6.
All candidates are asked to use your new profile to be available online 10 a.m.-11 a.m. to respond to reader comments on all of the essays. We’ll send you a reminder shortly before the post goes live on the site, and join you there in the comments.
Please feel free to contact me,, if you have any questions.
Thanks and best regards.

Anthony Cook
Director of Community News - Birmingham
Alabama Media Group




My campaign charges that Congress has stopped functioning for the American people.

You the voters can contribute to deciding this for yourselves. 

In my closing at the Channel 13 debate, I suggested the audience they go home, take out a sheet of paper, and, looking back 20 years, list on the left hand side instances in which they thought Congress adequately performed its role for the American people, and on the right hand side, instances in which Congress failed to perform its role adequately (which includes inaction when some action was called). Then, after doing that, I said the audience should assign their own overall grade to how adequately Congress performed during the past 20 years.

Before the debate, I did the below lists for myself.

Instances of Congress performing adequately

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

I said I was unsure about these

1. No Child Left Behind

2. The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 (prescription drug 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 

3. Failure to take up Simpson-Bowles

4. Failure to undertake tax reform

5. Failure to pass an immigration law

6. Failure to begin addressing Social Security adequately

7. Failure to begin addressing Medicare adequately

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

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 begin to adequately address

Overall grade --- F (i.e., Congress has basically stopped functioning for the American people)

If the overall grade is a very poor grade, the next obvious questions include why has Congress performed so poorly and what might be done to improve its performance.

For two months, I have been pressing the other six candidates to give some answer to the foregoing questions, and they have steadfastly refused to give any answers for themselves, one way or the other.. They have been unwilling to say either that they agree with me that Congress has done a very poor job the past twenty years, or to say they disagreed and they think Congress has performed reasonably well during the past 20 years and no particular attention needed to be given to questions which assume there has been very poor performance (i.e., why has it been so poor, and what might be done to improve its performance).

At most they have said to the voters is all was needed was for the voters to elect the right person to Congress and that person will do all that is possible to fix (improve) Congress. 

That is embarrassingly lame compared to my having a diagnosis of why Congress has performed so poorly (basically stopped functioning for the American people), and a set of recommendations about what is needed to improve Congressional performance (get it functioning again).

Clearly, if I am willing to ask the above questions, and if I am right with my answers, and if implementing my recommendations will get Congress functioning again for the American people, the 6th Congressional district and the entire country will be benefited.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Don't they know about the Alabama Spring?

Mathis Campaign Internal PollPercent
Retired attorney Robert Shattuck, who is also vying for the Republican nomination, was not included in the poll. Avery Vise, who is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination, was also not included.