Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sep 21 #alsen forum

The Alabama Policy Institute and Samford University are hosting a candidate forum with Luther Strange and Roy Moore on Sept. 21st. People are invited to submit questions at #askAL.

The forum sponsors Alabama Policy Institute and Samford University should have the ability and resources for conducting a respectable candidate forum.

The sponsors and question submitters should consider the candidates' websites as a starting point of reference for asking "good" questions. For Strange, see http://www.lutherstrange.com/on_the_issues. For Moore, see https://www.roymoore.org/Positions/.

Ballotpedia United States Senate special election in Alabama (September 26, 2017 Republican primary runoff) may also be a useful reference.

The forum sponsors should give thoughtful consideration to what they think are "important" questions that should be put to the candidates.

There are probably numerous "important" questions that Strange and Moore will evade answering in a decent fashion.

The sponsors, the AL news media and others should press hard on the candidates to answer important questions that the candidates probably want to avoid answering.

The sponsors should critique in advance questions that are asked on #askAL, and should lay out for comment by people questions the sponsors propose to ask the candidates.

The following questions are put forth as "important" and "meaningful" and deserving of putting to, and getting answers from, Strange and Moore. It is likely they will be evasive in giving "decent" answers.

1. Draining the Swamp
Central in the 2016 Presidential election were allegations made by both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump about a broken government, a rigged political system, and corruption. Candidate Trump made a hard sell at the end of his campaign that he would drain the swamp. Seven months on in the Trump Presidency there are significant developments to evaluate regarding Trump's promise to drain the Swamp. Luther Strange has made "draining the Swamp" a centerpiece of his campaign. Moore has called out McConnell and Strange as being part of the Swamp.
In my opinion, draining the Swamp has been palaver in the mouths of the candidates.
The sponsors should evaluate what was said and promised in the 2016 Presidential election about the Swamp, what has transpired in the Trump Presidency bearing on the Swamp, and what Strange and Moore are saying on the Swamp issue. The sponsors should decide what Strange and Moore should be pressed on about the Swamp.
For starters, it is suggested that Strange and Moore be required to set forth their definitions of the Swamp. See Defining the Swamp.

2. The question of Trump
Strange and Moore are adhering to ardent support for Trump, and they appear to  refuse to express anything negative about Trump.
Trump's negatives in the minds of many are becoming huge and undeniable. Leaders in the country who want Trump to be successful and who wish not for Trump's negatives to undermine his Presidency are deciding that they cannot be silent or give false testimony about the negatives. For example, regarding Charlottesville and America's values, Rex Tillerson expressed his own views about American values and, as to what Trump's views of America's values were, Tillerson could only say that the President speaks for himself.
An important question to be put to Strange and Moore would seem to be this: In asking Alabamians to vote for you,  do you think there are any negatives regarding Trump which you believe you  need to be honest to Alabamians about? Possible answers here could be (i) there are no significant negatives of Donald Trump, and his positives far outweigh any negatives: (ii) Alabamians can make up their own minds about Donald Trump's negatives and don't need any opinion about his negatives from me as candidate running for United States Senator from Alabama; and (iii) Donald Trump has significant negatives, and here is what I, as candidate running for United States Senator from Alabama, think they are.
The above seems an important question that should be put to Strange and Moore and that they should answer.
I urge the forum sponsors to consider whether the above question should be put to the candidates in the fourm.

3. Abortion
Why is it intolerable for you to live in a society in which others can choose to have an abortion?
Below is email interchange with Sam McClure, candidate for Attorney General.

4. Immigration
Do you think the country needs for Congress to agree on and pass immigration law legislation that addresses and seeks to resolve for the country the various areas of contention? If so, what is your explanation for why Congress has failed to do that, and what would you do to try to achieve the result of Congress agreeing on and passing immigration law legislation?

[to be continued]

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Defining the Swamp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Swamp
The safeguards the public has are very inadequate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump campaigned hard about the Swamp and draining the Swamp.

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

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

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

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

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

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