Dallas Morning News Questionnaire (Aug-2020)
1. What is an example of how you led a team or group toward achieving an important goal?
The company I work for associates with several larger entities who have a great deal of influence. When I first started at this company, a project for one of these influential entities had already been approved and was being overseen by my immediate supervisor. I was not assigned to that project, but did help from time to time. Unfortunately, the project fell behind when the senior developer left for a better position at another company. My manager hired two other developers to continue the project (I was still not assigned to the project), and the project fell even farther behind after an important deadline was negotiated for a six-month delay. After the frustration of over 18 months on the project with no visible success, the company dismissed my manager and directed me to finish the project with a tight 8-week deadline. I took the team back to the original request, dropped much of the work that had been done (which fell outside of the original scope of the project), and successfully delivered a working product within 6 weeks. During that time, I was promoted to manager of that group.
2. Why are you running for this office?
The simple answer is "because I'm tired of it". Like so many of the people that I have talked to, I am tired of -- year after year, cycle after political cycle -- trying to get excited over the lesser of 'who cares?', especially in Congress. I'm tired of trying to find a congressional candidate who can speak intelligently on the issues in complete sentences rather than using poll-tested and cliched sound bites. And I'm tired of congressional office-holders who are more interested in striking poses and playing 'gotcha' than in serving the interests of the voters who elected them into their office. Is that naïve? Perhaps, but then I've never been accused of being worldly. I've been called a lot of things -- most of which are not printable -- but "worldly" is not among them.
I chose to run for Congress instead of a local office because most of my political ideas require Congress to take an action, which it hasn’t done nor does it seem to want to do. Also, the incumbent is retiring which opens the office to anyone with the courage to take it on. If, like me, you have long experienced the “battle fatigue” of the two political groups whose only apparent goal is to “beat the other guy by any means necessary”, then perhaps it’s time to look in a different place.
3. Why should voters choose you over your opponent?
In a word: compromise.
Libertarians refer to the Democratic and Republican parties as the "Old Parties". They are sedimentary behemoths who do not believe in compromise despite all their rhetoric to the contrary. That's an advantage that I bring to District 24; compromise.
Compromise allows us (you and I) to work together on our crumbling infrastructure to build and repair bridges, roads, and even schools; to have both tough border security AND a hard-working immigrant/citizen population; to lead the world in clean energy production AND protect our environment for future generations; to drive down healthcare costs, keep private insurance AND ensure that no one (regardless of citizenship status) goes without adequate healthcare; to protect our rights under the Second Amendment AND ensure that dangerous weapons are withheld from those who should not have them.
Also, of my opponents, I am the only one who has previously (and repeatedly) taken the oath “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. I am the only one of the four who has lived the oath under fire, and the only one who understands that the oath has no expiration date. The voters should choose me because I am not beholden to the limited loyalties of the Old Parties, but can take the best ideas from each and adapt them into something that works for everyone, not just special interests.
3. Length of residency in Texas and, if applicable, within the district or jurisdiction of the specific office you are seeking:
My most recent move to Texas was in 2001 (I had previously lived here, but left when I enlisted in the Marine Corps). I have lived within Congressional District 24 since 2009.
4. What political leader do you admire most?
My first choice is President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt. Roosevelt was tough, disciplined, intelligent, and capable. Throughout his pre-political career, Roosevelt frequently achieved successful solutions by finding unseen avenues around problems, and he did the same when he became President. After leaving office, he realized that his replacement was fumbling as president and decided to run against him. During this campaign, Roosevelt survived an assassination attempt and immediately went on to give a 90-minute speech before being escorted to a hospital. He exemplified all the character traits that seem to be missing in America’s current political environment.
I also admire President James Madison because he believed in the sovereignty of personal liberties. Before the Revolution, he believed that an established religion was detrimental not only for restricting freedom of religion, but also that it encouraged closed-mindedness and unquestioning obedience to the authority of the state. His stance was that people should be free to consider the possibilities and continually question whether the existing system was working for the people. During his tenure with the Second Continental Congress, he worked to make himself an expert on financial issues, becoming a master of parliamentary coalition building. He was instrumental in creating the Virginia Plan which became the outline for the Constitution. He was also highly instrumental in arguing (through what became known as "The Federalist Papers") for the ratification of the Constitution by the states. The primary reason that I would like to follow his example is that through all of his public life, he saw the issues that existed, and through coalition building and cooperation, he was able to arrive at solutions that made the country a better place.
5. Assess the presidency of President Donald Trump, citing specific actions and initiatives of the president. Has he had an overall positive, negative or neutral impact on the country?
My assessment of the administration of Donald Trump is somewhat critical. To be quite honest, I don't like Donald Trump, and I never have, even before he was president, but my animosity toward the man has more to do with my evaluation of his character as a person (or more to the point, his lack of it) than his policies as an administrator, and for that, I was willing to give him the benefit of my considerable doubt.
President Trump has kept only a sparse few of the many promises he made during his campaign and the early days of his administration. I will grant that some of his inability to affect such completion has been due to partisan roadblocks, but a few key promises have simply been broken. For instance, building a wall along the southern border and having Mexico pay for it. While some work has been done on parts of the southern border wall, by February 2020 less than 125 miles (of almost 2000 miles) had been completed, and in spite of everything, there has still been no check from Mexico to pay for it.
His reaction to the COVID-19 crisis alone ranges from failure to prepare a comprehensive testing regime to refusing to use the powers of the federal government to coordinate state-by-state responses. He has done a monumental disservice to American territories (e.g., the Puerto Rico recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017), and stated earlier this year that he would not send help to Michigan, at the time in the throes of a flood crisis on top of the pandemic, simply because he does not support "mail-in voting".
Most people, including a growing number of Republicans, recognize that Trump is merely an opportunist. Despite the many distractions, Trump will lead the charge against the enemy-of-the-moment, or at least take credit for not standing in the way. My personal belief is that he is "all personality and no character", and everything that he has do so far during his administration has simply reinforced that belief.
6. Describe your reaction to the current state of the nation as it relates to the outbreak of protests in many American cities in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. Are the protests warranted? What actions would you take if elected to address concerns raised during these protests or as a result of them?
I believe that the protests (as long as they remain peaceful protests) are warranted because they highlight an injustice that has gone largely unnoticed and unaddressed until now. That said, if I am elected, I would continue steps that have already been initiated to end the policy of qualified immunity, which enables an environment where those who have chosen to uphold the laws are effectively no longer subject to those laws. I would also address the repeal of topics such as civil asset forfeiture and no-knock warrants, and continue the de-militarization of the police. Another area that I would address (which is peripherally connected to the protests) is ending the war on drugs. This policy has been a colossal failure for decades, and the government has only thrown more money at it attempting to make it successful. In practice, this single policy adversely affects non-white populations at a far greater rate than it does white populations, and can therefore be considered a racist policy that deserves to be swept away. Instead, decriminalize drugs like cannabis making them subject to federal quality regulations and standards. This could also be used to reduce the number of people currently incarcerated for simple possession or for what can be termed as "victimless" crimes.
7. If elected, what role, if any, would you take in implementing public health measures to combat COVID-19? Assess the federal, state and local response in your district to COVID-19, specifically addressing each?
If I were to be elected, my efforts in this regard would be directed toward streamlining the FDA and revitalizing the CDC. The federal government should not have had any involvement in the research, development, and testing of COVID remedies. I would have also made efforts toward removing the hindrances that government agencies had set into place that prevented private and free market enterprises from developing and testing remedies. Stories within the first few weeks of the pandemic emerged that scientists and medical practitioners had gone rogue because the governmental regulations were too restrictive, and had they not been shut down, we might have already had a remedy available.
Libertarians oppose the idea that the government has the ability to force individuals or businesses to do anything. That sad, I probably would have followed the same restrictions imposed locally against large gatherings, on-site dining, and on-site working operations; and that those businesses and restaurants that can operate on a remote - or more restricted - basis should do so with an eye to slowly re-open as the situation improves. It's not a perfect solution, but these are imperfect times. My purpose as a Libertarian is to preserve both your safety and your liberty together. This is why, now more than ever, I believe that Libertarianism is needed as a prevailing voice in America.
8. What is the biggest challenge your district faces and how would you address it?
Homelessness is about to become a major issue within District 24 (and, I suspect, many cities and townships throughout the country) as the moratorium preventing tenant and homeowner evictions has recently expired (25-Jul-2020), and has not been renewed. Many managers and landlords have already issued their 30-day eviction notices, so a large number of families will be forcefully removed from their homes before Labor Day. Homeowners also face eviction from their homes has faceless banks will seize houses because a homeowner has been out of work, through no fault of their own, and have not been able to make their mortgage payments.
I was homeless once myself, a long time ago. Despite the passing of time, the uncertainty and foreboding that I felt then is not something that I would wish on anyone. Homeowners and tenants have not had a voice in the district for many years, and small business owners were already having issues long before the COVID-19 pandemic began, and it has only become worse.
One solution I advocate would be to direct banks to extend existing loans and NOT to foreclose, especially on multi-family properties. Banks have it within themselves to alter the terms of their loans to cover exigencies (e.g., a global pandemic), and I would also ensure that landlords are included as small business owners to receive funding under the next CARES-type package.
9. Your congressional district serve aging suburbs with significant pockets of poverty. What steps would you take to assist in revitalization?
Revitalization of these areas is a noble goal, but unfortunately, much of the responsibility for this idea falls under local governments. There are several areas, however, that can be addressed federally which filter down to local areas. Some of these areas include standard Libertarian ideas such as the elimination of Qualified Immunity and so-called "no-knock" warrants, non-prosecution for "victimless crimes" such as cannabis possession, and a release of all existing prisoners serving time for non-violent offenses if good behavior standards have been met. One of the earliest promises I made in my campaign was the establishment of a federal database of police and disciplinary records, and advocacy of a "once fired for cause cannot be rehired" policy.
There also needs to be a further financial policy in place that these areas cannot have their property taxes raised above one percent each year for ten years. Further, families that meet a minimum combined net income should be exempt from paying property taxes. All of these actions should assist in revitalization of economically depressed communities as long as these communities themselves take responsibility for their revitalization efforts.
10. As a member of Congress, what would you do to address infrastructure concerns in your district (citing specific examples) and for the nation more broadly?
I'm not sure how to answer this question because, for Libertarians, infrastructure concerns fall primarily under the purview of private business. From our perspective, politicians are unnecessary in infrastructure and are, more often than they are not, a hindrance. As a practical matter, infrastructure is built every day by private enterprise in all of the economies of the world.
In America, private land developers are constantly building roads all over large developments, which roads are either maintained long-term by homeowner dues (for residential areas) or by rent in places like big malls having vast networks of infrastructure. There are all kinds of privately built water and electrical systems all over America even though the state also builds and owns many water and electrical systems. Historically in America, private enterprises built railroads along with urban trolley and bus systems, People mostly still remember that Bill Boeing and his business partners privately built airplanes, airports and developed air travel - until the state took over most major airports, but there are still today many small airports that are privately owned and operated. Both land-line and cellular service even today are virtually all built by private enterprise and none of this is taxpayer-funded.
People, left to their own devices, will create what is needed to make life better. Politicians, and taxes, are not a prerequisite to building infrastructure and Libertarians understand this truth.
11. U.S,GDP has collapsed through the economic impact of COVID-19 even as deficit spending has increased from $585 billion in 2016 to $984 billion in 2019. Is this level of deficit spending a concern? Should the federal government more closely match revenue and expenditures? If so, how? What would you do to assist the economy in recovering in the short term while ensuring long term growth?
The levels of deficit spending have been a concern for decades, and spending itself needs to be addressed. Working toward balancing the federal budget is probably the most necessary first step. One area that would make a significant impact in accomplishing that step would be to bring military troops back home from serving in foreign countries. American presence in many foreign countries has not been needed for decades, but we continue to spend enormous sums to maintain these bases in those countries. Phasing out U.S. military presence in those foreign countries, and then returning those bases to their countries of origin would address a large portion of our deficit spending, and those monies could then be re-purposed toward other, more necessary projects such as federal infrastructure.
12. The Texas border represents a challenge for the state, for the U.S. and for our neighbor Mexico. How should the U.S. reform immigration policy to be fair to all parties? Should asylum laws be reformed?
Yes, I believe asylum laws should be reformed. Since 2016, domestic policy in general has presented a far more hostile and negative view of refugee and asylum actions than the nation has seen in recent history. In way not witnessed by recent generations of Americans, the Trump administration has challenged both the U.S. tradition as a haven for immigrants and its traditional role in the international community as a beacon of freedom, liberty, and justice.
But to address the question, as a member of Congress, I would recommend (and work toward) a wide-spread use of the temporary protected status (TPS) which has proven to be a practical, low-budget way of handling large numbers of humanitarian cases that might otherwise clog our asylum and court systems. The vast majority of those granted TPS make positive contributions to our society, and many have U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR, or "green card") family members. The relatively few TPS recipients who misbehave are arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), placed in detention, and usually promptly removed. Far form an evasion of law, TPS has proven to be one of the most successful, practical, and efficient U.S. immigration programs. It fills the gaps in our legal immigration and asylum systems that otherwise would be problematic.
13. Do restrictions on mail-in ballots and voter ID laws need reform? If so, how? Do you support a national holiday for Election Day? Should federal preclearance reviews be reinstates as they existed under the Voting Rights Act?
Yes, I think that the laws for mail-in balloting between the post office and the Texas Secretary of State need to match up. The idea that a voter can request a mail-in ballot that could possibly not be delivered in time to be counted points to a disconnect between governmental parties. While I don't currently support the idea of voting via the internet, I think that exploring the use of modern technologies to facilitate fair and honest voting is a worthwhile pursuit.
I would support a national holiday for Election Day, if only to ensure that every eligible person has the ability to vote. I also support early voting, and mail-in/absentee voting. Federal preclearance reviews under the Voting Rights Act were necessary at one time, but I believe that we, as a people, have moved beyond the mindset that once required such drastic measures be taken, especially here in Texas.
14. Do you support public charter schools or other expanded school choice measures? Please detail. What would you do to ensure that children in failing schools get a better education?
I do support the idea of public charter schools, including cyber-schools, and schools specific to a trade or vocation. I personally believe that families should retain the option to send their children to the school of their choice based on what they believe is in the best interests of the individual child. I am convinced that the current standard "one-size-fits-all" educational model outlined by the federal government is insufficient for the educational needs of the 21st century. In turn, local school taxes paid for public schools should be returned to those families where those funds can actually be used toward funding the educational needs of the individual student.
Students in failing schools should receive funding in the form of school vouchers, thus allowing the family and the student to choose which school they can attend (other than a private school). When executed well, the voucher system increases market competition among public schools, intending to make schools more competitive while lowering their relative costs and increasing the educational quality for families and students.
15. What does America need to do to ensure it maintains a reliable, low-cost supply of energy? Does the nation need to take steps to address climate change? Should the U.S. support domestic oil and gas production?
There are several areas where the U.S. Can maintain a reliable, low-cost supply of energy, but there is one thing it cannot do; presume that any one single source will work for everyone. America needs to embrace green sources of energy, but also realize that some green energy sources will not work in some areas. Solar energy works well in the southwest; wind energy works well on the plains and near coastlines; hydroelectric works well in the river and canyon areas of the northeast and northwest. Nuclear energy has also advanced considerably even in the past few decades with designs of newer, smaller plants that use other nuclear waste as fuel.
Global climate change is a controversial issue with advocates on all sides of the argument defending their positions with sharp rhetoric and pretentious factoids designed to convince everyone of the righteousness of their argument. It is an issue which most environmental experts claim to be the largest growing (yet most easily correctable) threat to humanity, not just to Americans. The science behind it is compelling and, despite its critics, I can find no real adverse consequence to working toward a clean and sustainable environment for all.
Unfortunately, domestic oil and gas production needs to remain a priority, especially in Texas, to be phased out when these alternative energy sources become more readily available and easily sustainable.
16. What specific steps would you take as a representative to bring a greater level of cooperation to the political parties and to Congress?
As a Libertarian, I am not bound to either extreme of the Old Party ideologies. The advantage that I can bring to Congress is 'compromise'; a compromise that allows me to take the best parts of each side and put together something that will work for everybody. One of the reasons it seems that so little is accomplished in Congress stems from the idea that all new legislation must conform to a specific partisan viewpoint in order to be passed, typically whichever political party has the majority at the time. Compromise allows for the ability to see beyond the forced partisan viewpoint to find the commonalities necessary to pass comprehensive legislation that will last for the long term.
17. Do you believe the nation's top technology companies are anti-competitive or otherwise need reform? What reforms would you propose to address American concerns over the power of tech companies and the impact on everyday life? Do you support anti-trust action against any tech company? Do you support reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act?
Some of the nation's top companies appear to fall under the definition of a monopoly or a corporate trust. In this respect, especially if that tech company makes a habit of quashing new competitive technologies by either releasing a competing product at a lower price or by simply buying out the competing company, then that company should be broken into its baser pieces (as should any monopoly) in order to maintain an opportunity for a competitor. Monopolies and corporate trusts are the antithesis of a free market economy, and I would support an anti-trust action against any company that met the definition of a monopoly or corporate trust.
I do support at reform of the outdated Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. While no one should be held liable for something that someone else does, the recommendations outlined by the Justice Department in June 2020 seek to provide stronger incentives for online platforms to address illicit material on their services while continuing to foster innovation and free speech.