Five questions for any candidate

After seeing the very childish Republican debate which reveals the infighting in the party, it reminded me of the questions not being asked enough or answered when they are. It troubles me that the leading candidate is loud on bravado and quiet on substance. And, he does not like questions which should speak volumes.

We need to think of five basic questions we should be asking all candidates, but especially the ones running for President. We owe it to our country and the rest of the world. And, this goes for candidates of all parties.

Why? Why do you believe that? Why do you say that? Can you elaborate on your position? In today’s politics and governance, if your opponent did something it is by definition bad and vice versa. So, this first question is key.

What? What will you do to remedy the problem you note? It is so very easy to critique, but harder to do. Tell us what your plan entails. Be specific and not speak in platitudes.

How? How will you do what you say you want to do? This is particularly good to ask when what is being advocated is unconstitutional or would lessen our global standing. Or, if the idea is unrealistic.

How long? The difference between a hope and a plan is a timeline. How long will it take? What does success look like? An early critic of going into Iraq and Afghanistan said “be prepared to stay for 30 years.” This lack of definition of success and the time to get there is a major frustration of our troops who are at risk.

How much? Money is not infinite and we do have a building debt crisis. Paying off new things is important, but we must also pay for old things, as well. And, please remember the following crude statement – any dumb ass can get elected saying they will cut taxes. Cutting taxes, in and of itself, should not be confused with good stewardship.

Five questions. They will work on any issue. And, there is one certainty, most candidates will not like answering them. But, for our sake, they must. For our children and grandchildren’s sake they must. We owe it to them.

The candidate scared of a woman with microphone

I find it amusing that a man running for President, who is touting how tough he will be with our enemies, is running scared. No, Donald Trump is not scared of terrorists, he is scared of Megyn Kelly of Fox News.

He has taken his sand toys out of the sand box and won’t be appearing on the next GOP Debate aired by Fox. The reason is Megyn Kelly who he feels is biased against him. She just might ask him a question he does not like as she did the last time. Or, as reported this morning, he doesn’t want his competition bringing up milestone statements from his history. His previous stances on issues like abortion or healthcare or his several bankruptcies and numerous litigations, might make him uncomfortable.

Truth be told, The Donald does not like anyone asking him questions. His candidacy is built on a foundation of attitude, platitudes and lies, so when someone asks him a legitimate question, he dodges it and then cries foul or calls him or her stupid, disabled, fat or loser. Like he did the other day with one reporter, he may even ask for an apology. Think about that for a second. Or, like he did with Chris Matthews the other evening, he may just continually not answer a specific question on his error of accusing the President of being born non-American.

Everything a voter needs to know about The Donald’s veracity as a candidate is in his history. Coupling that with his very-unpresidential discourse throughout the campaign demeaning most groups and individuals that get in his way, he does not present himself well as a candidate. Plus, he has even taken a shot at his own followers, in essence saying they are so blindly loyal, he could shoot someone and they would still vote for him. I do not care that he wraps himself in a blanket of political incorrectness, yet he has the thinnest of skins and is very litigious. Being political incorrect does not give you license to lie as evidence by a 76% untruthful record per non-partisan fact checkers.

But, back to the debate sand box. If he cannot stand up to questions from anyone, but in particular, a network female reporter who he also insulted for her earlier questions, how will he interact with leaders of other countries, both male and female? How will he react when Angela Merkel or Christine LaGarde disagree with his position? Will he make remarks about their times of the month like he did with Kelly, say how disgusting it is that they go to the bathroom like he did with Hillary Clinton or call them out on their looks like he did with Carly Fiorina.

People are going to vote for whom they see fit. But, this candidate needs to answer a lot more questions. His history and conduct warrant it.


You must ask good debate questions

I have long been a critic of the questions asked in debates. This year’s presidential primary debates have been no exception to this rule, building off the poor 2012 presidential primary debates. Last night, the moderators took the line of questioning to a new low, to the extent the panel of candidates had a field day in criticizing the askers.

Not that all questions that got a reaction were bad questions, but the number of inane questions were more than a few. I think asking about the budget deal was a reasonable question as well as asking about Rubio’s recent decision to leave the senate and missing votes, yet that question could have been framed better.

Yet, the moderators gave the gavel to the debaters. They played into a narrative that there is a main stream media bias against the GOP. This is part of a larger effort to discredit non-conservative media when the stories contradict reports on conservative media. This is a long-standing public relations ploy to discredit the other source.

As an independent voter, I have long been frustrated at the media for not reporting real news, not reporting in-depth or accurately, and not reporting news that is derogatory to funders. There is too much shallowness in mainstream news which begs for follow-up questions of people giving pat answers. This is why I tend to get my news online from more reputable sources and watch and listen to more credible news sources like PBS Newshour, BBC World News America and NPR. Documentary shows like “Vice” and “Frontline” are very well done sources of information. I have also been a long time critic of pseudo-news sources like Fox News and MSNBC for spin-doctored to biased reporting and, more so in Fox’ case, simply making things up.

A recent example showed a Fox pundit reporting as fact a story from a spoof website, a candidate picking it up and then it being reported as news on Fox News. Yet, the underlying data was never verified as made up. The sad part is this is done all too often and not only on Fox, but Fox is more known for its lack of veracity than other sources.  We must have more veracity in news reporting regardless of your political persuasion. Ironically, one of the better news sources is John Oliver’s comedy show called “Last Week Tonight,” which has an in-depth story that is steeped in fact, such as stories on unscrupulous pay-day lending, gouging by for-profit colleges, ludicrous criminal justice practices, addressing climate change concerns, not regulating the supplemental drug business, etc.

My favorite part of debates is to read the Fact Check reports (see below for a link). While the debaters were claiming media bias and crying foul with the questions, it did not stop them from spouting several untruths. Donald Trump took offense at a question which he felt was contrived, but actually was sourced by a contention he made on his website. There the moderator dropped the ball, as she could have retorted that it came from his site. Carly Fiorina spoke inaccurately about job losses under Obama when there have been net job gains. Chris Christie overstated a crisis in Social Security funding saying the problem was more grave than it is.

Yet, Christie and Ted Cruz were correct that better questions should be asked. To me, the ideas from this field are weak overall and this needs to be ferreted out. “If the deficit is so important, why is your tax plan so budget negative?” would be a good question to ask. “If economic injustice is so important, why are you not advocating investing in our infrastructure, proposing a repeal of Obamacare and not supporting a living minimum wage? Or, if you do not like what we are doing in the Middle East, what do you propose we do?” These are questions to which what I want to hear answers.

The debate did flush out a few things. Jeb Bush and Rand Paul probably need to reconsider their candidacy. Bush should have listened to his mother from the outset. Marco Rubio, Cruz and Christie showed well and should rise in the polls. John Kasich is right about the absurdity of the leaders’ proposals, but he needs to be listened to more as many of Ben Carson and Trump’s ideas are absurd. The others did not shoot themselves in the foot, but probably did not shine as well as they should have.

I have long thought that Kasich is the best candidate, but stands little chance of winning in this party at this time as he is too moderate. Collaborators who get things done are less appreciated. I also believe Rubio will eventually emerge as the candidate, yet he is giving away an advantage with his comments about the senate and desire not to run again and is running away from his greatest success in the bipartisan immigration bill which passed the senate.

So, it will be interesting what unfolds over the next many months. But, moderators please ask some good questions and know your facts.

Will I be watching the speed debate?

Although, I must confess mild interest in learning how the GOP debate goes tonight, I won’t be watching. My guess is The Donald will try to look presidential, but will not be able to resist the temptation to fire back at folks. I will look at the highlights reel of the fireworks.Yet, the answer to will anything substantive be discussed, is an easy no.

I say this for two reasons. First, you cannot glean any substance from ten people in that little bit of time. It will be a war of sound bites, yet someone who can coin a clever retort, is not correlated with being a good leader. It just means they had a clever retort. Plus, the leader in the GOP polls is big on saying outlandish things with very little data or substance backing it up. Some of the others have already sunk to his level, so I think you will see a lot of big swings being made tonight.

Second, the issues that are needing to be discussed are multi-faceted and complex, so sound bites won’t cut it. Also, as a former Republican, the GOP is on the wrong side of future history on so many issues, that the real problems are not being addressed by the rhetoric of the candidates. We won’t hear about the need to address man-influenced climate change, but will hear about the jobs being lost in fossil fuel industry. Note, the coal jobs have been going away more due to fracking natural gas, so why has that not been an issue before? Plus, the solar industry jobs are growing at double-digit rates and tally over 170,000 at year-end 2014, so it is not an either/or issue on jobs.

We also won’t hear about the ACA working and how it can be improved, as it is needed tool in the new sharing economy. Without the ACA, independent contractors would not have access to affordable care. We also won’t hear about the huge need for better gun control. We also won’t hear about asset based community development and investing in our infrastructure that will help change liabilities into assets and create jobs. We also won’t hear about how investing in family planning and birth control has reduced abortions, unwanted pregnancies and poverty. We also won’t hear how the economy and stock market have been doing pretty well and unemployment is low.

Yet, I am sure we will hear about the Confederate flag. I am sure will hear about denying rights and freedoms to the LGBTQ citizens. I am sure we will hear about how stupid the president is on immigration, Cuba, Iran, ISIS and Ukraine, yet I applaud his seriousness of purpose to address these problems and opportunities. I am sure we will hear about how the president has let down the African-American community, not admitting the huge role the GOP has played in disenfranchising this audience through unconstitutional voting laws, attacks on support programs, indictment of the ACA, lack of Medicaid expansion in twenty states, limiting wages and lack of investment in these communities and in public education.

So, I will watch the highlights, but avoid the watching their lack of attention to more important matters. I do like that John Kasich made the cut, as he is the best candidate in the bunch, but no one has heard of him outside of Ohio.