Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Questions for the (local) candidates.

Our Congressman, Cynthia Lummis, is leaving office. So candidates are lining up to run.  Mostly Republican candidates, of course, and it's going to be a Republican who is going to win, unless something massively bizarre happens, although frankly as hard to the national right as the Republican candidates so far are tacking, an opening exists for a Democrat if the Democrats defy all expectations and somebody well known and not from the Unicorn Left runs. So far, the chances of that, however, look slim.

Recent elections have been singularly disappointing in my view.  The last one started to get interesting, I'll admit, as there was a real split between the Tea Party and rank and file elements in the GOP, with the rank and file coming out on top.  That doesn't mean that we won't see some tacking towards the Tea elements in this election, of course.  The sad part of it is that races that used to feature some real intelligent debate, on a state level, have been swamped by developments elsewhere and tend to just be a mirror on the more extreme elements of the national party elections, which of course right now are fairly extreme.

Wyoming has one seat in Congress, so this is an important seat.  So we ought to really think it out.  Here's some questions I'd propose anyone ask of these candidates.  While my view on these topics is probably self evident, that doesn't mean that the same view ought to be yours.  Nonetheless, I"d ask these questions anyhow.
  • In recent years there's been a lot of talk amongst Wyoming politicians about "taking back" or "assuming control" of the Federal lands in Wyoming.  With that in mind, what is your view on the following:
i.  Do you believe that Wyoming was ever "promised" these lands?  If you do, back that up and explain why the State forever disclaimed them upon being admitted to the Union.
ii.  Wyoming sportsmen uniformly believe that the state acquiring the lands is a bad idea and will result in the loss of public use of them.  What do you say to that?
ii.  Would you prohibit the sale of the lands for all time?  The state's really hurting for cash right now, so why should we believe that would be effective?
iii. What advantage to the State is there in acquiring the lands? Don't rest on platitudes, give us facts and figures and numbers. You know that there's cost to managing them, don't you?
iv.  Given that Wyoming has the lowest population in the nation, and this would have to go through Congress, doesn't this movement risk angering the majority of Americans who feel that the lands should have more Federal control, rather than less? So, long term, doesn't this "gimme" type of attitude risk getting our hands severely slapped?
  • I know, as you are running in Wyoming, you are going to claim to be a sportsman.  Back that up. Tell us exactly how many licenses you have held in Wyoming over the past twenty, yes I said twenty, years.  Name your old hunting and fishing buddies so we can talk to them and see what they say.
  • I also know that you are going to claim to support the Second Amendment.  Almost all politicians in Wyoming claim this, and then go on to say something lame like "I own a gun", which to gun owners means that you probably don't know diddly about firearms.  Do you actually shoot? What do you use your firearms for?  Are you a member of a range?  Do you own one of the dread "evil weapons".  Speak up.
  • While we are on the topic of the US Constitution, what's your view?  Strict constructionist, living document, something else?  Do you feel any recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions are wrong, and if so which ones?  What would you propose to do about any errors you feel that they have committed, even if that just means living with them.
  • Most Wyoming politicians are strongly in favor of something like "state's rights".  Are you?  If you are, are there areas that you are willing to tell us that you'll cut the pork out in a way that hurts Wyoming?  That is, do you have the courage of your convictions even if we are dining on some of that pork?  If so, tell us what you will say to Congress, you know, Wyoming has a moral or philosophical duty to do that on its own, darn it. 
  • I know that you are going to claim that you support our base industries. So, name one you have worked in.  I.e., name that petroleum industry, agricultural, tourism, or retail job you have held, in Wyoming.  (If you can't name one. . . well. . . it's  not to late for you to get a real job for awhile and see what they are like).
  • On those base industries, agriculture and the agriculture based industry of tourism are the state's oldest industries (okay, yes I'm ignoring the railroad on this one, as maybe it's number two).  What do you intend to do, specifically, for the nation's agriculture.  And what do you intend to do for Wyoming's agriculture.
  • I know that you are going to lament the slump in coal and oil, but on that, are you willing to answer the hard questions. And those are, in part:
i.  Are you willing to accept that the slump in oil may be due to a new economic regime in petroleum production, and we might never get the high prices back?  If so, what do you say to the state and nation about that?  If you don't agree, back that up.
ii.  Are you willing to accept that coal is likely dead, and admit that on the campaign trail.  Yes, I know that as a Wyomingite (for those of you who are, and a couple of you are pretty iffy on that), you are supposed to say that clean coal will save coal, but as the evidence of that is scant, are you willing to face it.  If you aren't, back up your position with specifics, not airy hopes.  And if you propose to argue for investing in "clean coal", are you willing to admit that's a socialist proposal?
iii.  Are you willing to accept that global public opinion has clearly turned against fossil fuels, now matter what your personal position may be, and it no longer makes any difference whether a Wyoming politician admits or denies a belief in climate change? The world does, and the world is reacting massively.  Given that, how does that impact in real, not imaginary ways, how you see this industry in our state in the future.  And don't just give us "the world needs" answer, as that same answer would have worked for wagon wheels and saddles too.  Give us a real answer on how you think things need to develop, and how that relates to your intended job in Congress, assuming that it even does.
  • I know that you are going to state that you are for a strong national defense.  Given that, I presume you know that means getting people killed, right?  With this in mind:
i.   The Constitution says that only Congress can declare war. What's that mean to you?
ii.  Are you in favor of women in combat?  No waffling.
iii.  Have you ever been in the service?  If not, why not?
iv.  Is the military too big, too small?
v.  What is your view on the War On ISIL, and don't give me that "Obama messed this up" answer.  I want to know what you intend to do right now, and how long you think it's going to take.  You propose to take a job on, and my presumption will be that you are going to sit around for two years blaming people who came before you.
vi.  Same question for Afghanistan. What are your thoughts?
vii. While on this, would you explain to us your views on our friendly relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is one of the most repressive nations on earth, and which doesn't allow any sort of freedom of religions at all. Why are we buddies with those guys?
  •  On the above, why do we still make anyone register for the draft?  We're not going to be drafting anyone and we know that, so why make people do this?
  •  Where are you really from?  Wyoming has a long history of electing politicians that were not born here, and almost all of our early politicians were from somewhere else, so you can be honest about this, and should be.
  •  Where is your income really from? We might care about this, but you should be honest about it.  Do you really work and derive an income from Wyoming, or is your income really from somewhere else?
  • Speaking of income, what is yours?  Wyoming's average income is $51,000 per year (or at least it was, before the crash started), the seventh highest in the nation.  That's solidly middle class, but that's all it.  What is your income?
  • You've probably noticed that this is a national office.  So there are things Washington can't do for us, right?  Are you going to answer that, if these things come up during the election?
    • Do you have a religious faith?  If so, name it.  Does it mean anything to you in terms of your politics, or are you more inclined to take the JFK path that you will exercise your faith on Sunday (or Saturday) but it won't otherwise influence your politics that much.
    • Let's talk economics. Are you: a) a Capitalist, b) a Distributist; c) a Socialist?
    i.  Okay I know that you didn't say you were a Socialist, unless of course you actually have no hope or desire to be elected, or that you are completely delusional, but if you said "no" to that one, what's your feeling on the many odd subsidized programs the US has.  One has recently been in the news big time, with the GOP promising that they were going to cut subsidies for a private entity that they did not, but what about you?  Are you going to really attack the many socialized, in practical terms, programs that there are, or do you support some?  If you do, what are they and why do you feel that's an exception.
    ii.  Alright, I know you said you were a capitalist and believe in the free market.  I also said that you said you aren't a distributist, and that you became a bit queasy as you also don't even know what that is (and bonus points to you, if you actually do, but how far are you willing to take that?  What is the government's role in our economy?  What is the corporate role?

    You may have noticed that our local economy is getting pounded recently.  What are your feelings about that?
    • I know that no matter who you are, you're going to complain that the Federal Government is regulating us to death here.  Back that up, and don't use generalities either.  If you are going ot claim that regulations are keeping oil exploration from busting forth, for example, name some industry analysts who agree with that (hint, they really don't).
    • What's your reaction to the growing support for "social democracy" amongst the young?  You've probably seen three of the current Presidential candidates make some traction by taking on a certain nannie state mentality, and my guess is that you are willing to do that to. Be blunt.  At what point do you tell people that they're on their own, and the government isn't really there to help them.
    • What is your view on immigration and illegal immigration?  Be specific.  And, on that, in a country of over 300,000,000 residents, at what point are we pretty much full up? 
    • On immigration, what should be considered when taking in new migrants, assuming you didn't say we're "full up". 
    •  If you are a Democrat, you are a member of a party that has been declining here ever since the end of World War Two and which has all but died since the election of Bill Clinton.  Why do you think your party is so poorly thought of in Wyoming?  Do you acknowledge that there's a lot about the Democrats Wyomingites don't like, and how do you stand in regards to that?
    • If you are a Democrat, you are a member of a party that's pretty much quit running electable known candidates in recent years.  A few of your more serious known members became Republicans  Why can't your party get some known serious candidates to run?
    • If you are a Republican, what's going on inside of your party and how do stand in regards to it?  It's pretty clear that the old Wyoming GOP was in quite a fight with an upstart Tea Party GOP last election.  What is your opinion on all of that, and have you guys gotten over it?

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