Occupy Petaluma General Assembly Questions

answers by Brooke Clarke candidate for Congress June 5 2012 California District 2
Question 1
How will you handle pressure from members of your political party, lobbyists, and donors who may be pushing for legislation that works against the best interests of the majority of your constituents?
I'm independent of political parties to avoid this very important issue.  The Democrats and Republicans agree on the big issues: war, economy, health care, justice, environment, etc.   They only differ on the religious "values" issues.  So voting for either a Democrat or Republican is a vote for no change.  Obama has made this very clear. They say doing the same thing over and over and expecting a change is a sign of insanity, so voting for a Democrat or Republican and expecting a change in the big issues is insanity.

It only takes a small number of independent Congress persons to make a huge change in Congress.  It does not take anywhere near a majority, just enough to break the grid lock caused by the almost equal number of Democrats and Republicans.
Constructing Public Opinion: How Politicians and the Media Misrepresent the Public a documentary by Media Education Fund
Preview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvodhsMc2QM
Full Length: http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=106

Question 2
Polls show that the majority of Americans want single-payer health care.  What steps will you take to help make single payer a reality?
Answer I'm all for single payer (aka Medicare for All) and will support that option as my first priority.  Obama care is a huge dollar giveaway to the medical insurance companies and is a bad idea, but two of the Democratic candidates have come out in favor of Obama Care because that's the Democrat party line (see question 1 above).

I predict that if Obama Care goes forward the costs to the insurance companies are going to rise because they will be required to accept all applicants.  The result will be higher premiums which will be passed on to everyone driving our costs even higher than they are now.  Note the U.S. is now a second rate country in terms of medical care.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_infant_mortality_rate (the U.S. is No. 34)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy (the U.S. is No. 20)
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_tee_bir_rat-health-teen-birth-rate (U.S. is No. 1)

Question 3
A. Would you commit to introducing into Congress Move to Amend’s proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to limit the influence of big money on elections?
Answer Yes I would introduce and/or support undoing corporate person-hood.  This is just part of the problem of big money controlling the government.  Even bigger than a SuperPAC are the Democratic and Republican national committees.  They have much more money and power than the lobbyists.  This is what's behind the "split on party lines" votes.  That does not happen because of PAC or SuperPAC money, only party politics.  We need radical reform in how elections are held to remove party politics as well as big money.
B. If  yes, what additional steps will you commit to taking to restore democracy to the citizens of this country?
Answer There are a number of things but some of the more important ones are to restore justice.  Starting with Ford's pardon of Nixon for criminal behavior all the succeeding presidents have pardoned their predecessor for criminal activities.  This has now been passed down to corporations, for example Obama granted immunity from criminal prosecution to the telecom industry.  Another area is Regulatory Capture (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulatory_Capture) where government agencies who were founded to regulate an industry now work to protect them from criminal prosecution.  One of the most public examples is the SEC which has protected a lot of Wall Street people from going to jail.  For more on this see the book:
With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful by Glenn Greenwald (http://www.salon.com/writer/glenn_greenwald/)
Also see http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog

C. If no, what steps would you commit to taking toward getting big money out of elections?

Question 4
What steps will you take to ensure that
A. suspected mortgage and foreclosure fraud is investigated and those found guilty of criminal behavior are prosecuted and imprisoned?
Answer All debtors now holding mortgages should be offered a new mortgage where the principal is reduced in proportion to the current value of the asset and at the lowest market rate.  Currently owners are not able to refinance because their homes are worth less than the principal amount of the mortgage.
B. victims of illegal foreclosure receive fair compensation from the institutions found guilty of perpetrating the crime? 
Answer Yes including damages.

Question 5
What will you do to push for a national moratorium on foreclosures?
Answer I don't think a general moratorium on all foreclosures is needed.  But a provision to get people out from under water is needed as a first step.

Question 6
How would you promote a sustainable economy in northern California that is shielded from the manipulative exploitations of Wall Street?
Answer There are a number of problems with our basic economy. 

First Capitalism is based on the book "Wealth of Nations" which was published in the same year as the Declaration of Independence was signed, 1776.  This was a time were there was no electricity and products were made one at a time by hand, there were no corporations.  The barrier to entry for a mom and pop store was very low, so if there was a store who was over pricing it's products it was easy for someone to open a store to compete with them.  In this environment the "do what's in your own self interest" (greed) philosophy of Adam Smith did work.  About a hundred years later Carl Marx wrote Das Kapital saying Capitalism could not work and socialism was a better system.  The U.S.S.R. tried his idea and it failed in 1989.  Capitalism is now failing because Adam Smith's idea of an "invisible hand" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_hand) no longer works in modern society.  In the movie "A Beautiful Mind", based on the life of John Nash, there a bar scene where Nash's Governing Dynamics is demonstrated. (http://www.end2partygovernment.com/2012Issues.html#ASvJN)  Nash won the Noble prize in economics for his idea that we should do what's best for each of us (capitalism) AND what's in the best interest of the group.

Second is that our monetary system is based on money from debt. The problem is that only money in the amount of the principal borrowed is created, the money needed to pay the interest is not created so there's never going to be enough money to pay off the debt.  See:

Third is that any growth (there is no such thing a smart growth)  is not sustainable and many aspects of our society depend on growth.  This has implications in many areas of society not just the environment or economy.  For example planning that includes growth is a mistake.

Forth is the dismantling of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which was put in place in response to the stock market crash of 1929 and the great depression.  Here are some laws that are causing today's problems:
*Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act 1980 (Wiki)
* Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act 1999 (Wiki). 
* Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act  2010 (Wiki) does not come close to restoring the checks and balances needed.  In fact Title IX, Subtitle B, Section 929 repeals the Freedom Of Information Act reporting requirement from the SEC allowing them to hide information to prevent prosecuting Wall Street criminals.  It's part of the Obama 'Opaque government" plan.

Question 7
In light of what we’ve learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, do you support our continued reliance on nuclear power?
Answer Because the NRC is one of those agencies that suffers from Regulatory Capture (see question 3 above) they are not regulating our nuclear power plants and I'm concerned for plant safety.  There needs to be a Congressional review of all our generating plants for safety.  Note that virtually all electrical generating plants are located near water and are more at risk if the sea level rises.  There are newer designs for nuclear generating plants that are much safer and these should not be ruled out in general.

Question 8
Will you defend civil liberties at least as vigorously as national security?
Answer I think the War On Terror should be ended and the Bill of Rights restored.  The office of the President has way too much power and needs to be rolled back to the powers granted in the Constitution.  In addition the presidential pardon needs to be removed by an act of Congress.  Along with that provision made for criminal prosecution of government workers who subvert the Constitution or laws of the land.  Congress has passed many laws to limit the powers of the president and the next president finds a way around them.  This has to stop.

Question 9
What would you do to address disenfranchisement, institutional racism and brutality against people of color?
Answer There was a crime wave in the 1980s and politicians at the state and federal level enacted many laws in a false attempt to stop it.  These took the from of "Tough On Crime", "Three Strikes and You're Out", "Mandatory Sentencing" etc. But, as explained in the book Freakonomics, those laws had little effect on the crime wave but are still on the books.  The result is that our prison system is overloaded.  Not only that, but the 1% are not going to jail (See: Justice in question 3 above) but the minorities are being over prosecuted.  This is another example of our current problems being caused by bad laws already on the books.  We need to get these bad laws off the books and free those now in prison who should have been sentenced to a few months in county jail, not 20 years in federal prison.  These bad laws need to be repealed.
The U.S. is number 1 in the world for prisoners, a national tragedy in terms of dollars and more importantly peoples lives.

Question 10
If elected, what will you do to limit the power of the Military Industrial Complex and end wasteful, illegal wars?
Answer The U.S. Defense (really War) budget is way way too big and needs to be cut at least in half and tapered down in future years.  Our foreign bases need to be closed.  This is one of those big issues the Democrats and Republicans agree on and so you will not see Democrats or Republican candidates taking a hard stand. This is a place where an independent candidate can do a lot of good. See the book: Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachel Maddow

Question 11
Do you think it is a good idea to put an asphalt plant across the river from Petaluma’s Shollenberger Park?
Answer That sounds like a local issue.  The Constitution is very explicit in what powers are granted to the U.S. Congress (A1), the president (A2) and the courts (A3) and the rest are left for the states (A4).