Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Smartass hard questions for candidates

NOTE: I originally posted this on democraticunderground.com, but it could apply just as well if not more so to the blogosphere in general. (you can see a poll and the replies to this idea HERE).

DU has over 80,000 members, and probably many of us email news clippings and our opinions to even more people.

I have seen ideas discussed here finally bubble up into the mainstream discussion.

In short, we can shape the political discourse.

One way to do this is to ask questions of candidates so we can either endorse them, post a DU score for them, or at least post their answers. Ideally, this would be on questions that webpages like project vote smart don't cover.

Some possible questions:


  • If you voted for the Iraq War Resolution, why did you do so? (please do NOT mention terrorism, WMD, or spreading democracy. DU members are generally not retarded)

  • How should consistent poll results showing that 60-80% of Iraqis want us to pull out our troops as soon as possible effect our Iraq policy?

  • Do you think that cancelling Iraq's oil contracts with Russia and France and replacing them with American companies, denationalizing their oil industry and restructuring it to suit the demands of our oil companies is a war crime?

    Do you think that doing this and putting Bush stooge Ahmed Chalabi in the oil ministry is likely to increase or decrease animosity toward the US in Iraq and the Middle East?

  • Do you support using our military to gain hegemony over the world's oil supply?

  • Would you support prosecuting as war criminals the boards of directors and corporate officers of businesses that successfully lobby Congress and the White House to commit military actions so they can profit?

  • Which uses of our military to invade or attack other countries in the last 50 years were probably not justifiable in your opinion and why?

  • In the last 50 years, which uses of our intelligence services to overthrow democratically elected governments were justified, which were not, and why? (you can just give an example of one each if you want)

  • In the last 50 years, which dictators were we justified in supporting and which do you think were unjustifiable?

  • Why would a country with a handful of nuclear weapons attack detonate one in the United States or give one to a terrorist group that would do so when they know that doing so would trigger overwhelming retaliation from our arsenal of 10,000 warheads? How do you sift legitimate security concerns against opportunistic scare tactics that have been used against the American public?

  • Do you support the use of mercenaries to interrogate prisoners and provide security as has been done in Bosnia and now Iraq? How do we hold these people responsible for their actions as we do the military with the UCMJ?

    9/11 & TERRORISM

  • Which of the changes to our intelligence services, military procedures, and civil rights would have prevented 9/11 if they had been in place before the attack? Please be very specific about both changes to policy and the relevant details of the 9/11 attack and planning.

  • No public statement has been made about who sold stock short before 9/11. Will you demand that those parties be investigated, prosecuted, and the results made public?

  • Would you support another 9/11 investigation conducted people NOT connected to Wall Street, the defense industry, oil companies, and others who profited from the attack?

    In particular, would you support public testimony from NORAD pilots and others on any change in scramble procedures and wargames that were going on the day of 9/11?

    Our F-15 and F-16s, can get off the ground with a few minutes notice from a cold start, climb to 50,000 feet in a minute, and travel at up to twice the speed of sound.

    The hijacked airliners on 9/11 flew unmolested for nearly two hours in the most densely populated part of the United States and what should be the most heavily guarded areas including Washington, DC.

    The only two fighters sent to intercept them were traveling at between 400-500 mph, slower than most commercial airliners fly.

  • In addition to killing or arresting those who commit acts of terrorism, what can we do to make people less likely to join terrorist groups?


  • Do you believe that our oil supply is finite, and must be replaced with other forms of energy? If so, which energy alternatives do you support and what concrete steps will you take toward making those happen?


  • Do you support neoliberalism (bankrupting Third World countries to make them vulnerable to forced privatization of government services and forcing severe cuts in social services) as a foreign policy? If not, what concrete steps have you taken to oppose it?

  • What would you do to make our trade agreements more beneficial to American workers and protect the rights of workers and farmers in other countries? How would you structure trade agreements so that they don't negate democracy in the countries affected including ours?


  • Would you be willing to anger big pharma and insurance companies in order to control costs and make medical care accessible to all Americans? What would you do to rein in those two industries?

  • What would you do to counter the trend of businesses, especially corporations, relying on underpaid part time workers and temps who often get no benefits or job security?

  • How would you reduce the influence of corporate America on our political process or at least balance it with the interest of average Americans?

  • How will you restructure our tax system to make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share?


  • Do you support smaller class size and better pay for teachers as the bare minimum for beginning to fix our K-12 education system?

    If you supported No Child Left behind or other right wing education "reforms" how did you think testing kids endlessly without giving them or their teachers the money to correct problems would work? How did you think demanding higher standards for teachers and micromanaging their work would help when schools are already having a hard time attracting smart, motivated people?

  • What will you do to make higher education more accessible and affordable?


  • What should be done to stop the revolving door between Congress & the Pentagon and the lobbying firms and corporations they work with?

  • Do you believe that government agencies should be allowed to hire union busting lawyers and consultants with our tax dollars? What will you do to stop this?

  • Do you support public financing of political campaigns? If not, what steps would you take to curb the severe corruption of elected officials at all levels of government?

  • Would you support the GAO or another independent oversight agency analyzing legislation to see which businesses profit from it, who they lobbied, who they donated money to, and whether they actually wrote portions of the legislation?

  • Would you support mandatory labeling on legislation written by lobbyists, including aides and elected officials who worked as lobbyists?

  • What would you do to curb the cronyism that occurs at all levels of government in both parties, particularly in the awarding of contracts?


  • What would you do to make us confident that our votes will be counted accurately, and that no one is unfairly barred from voting?

    Do you support paper ballots, hand counted or at least open source, inspectable software for any electronic voting equipment used?

  • What will you do to restore the due process rights of Americans such as habeas corpus and requiring warrants for wiretaps? What should be done with government officials who violated these?


  • What would you do to strengthen enforcement of the Freedom of Information Act?

  • What would you do to curb the arbitrary use of classifying documents?

  • Obviously, this is far from exhaustive, and includes some idiosyncratic stuff, but you could add to it.

    , , , , , public relations, ,


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