Open for Questions: A Republican Opportunity

The long awaited MyBO and mojo is back on Tomorrow, President Obama will be responding to questions posed through the latest iteration of Open for Questions, a community-moderated style townhall.

With a little organizing, this is an opportunity for Republicans to vote up questions that hold Obama accountable for ballooning the national debt to $20 trillion by 2019. And this time, many already have. Based on my rough sampling, about a third of the questions come from Obamabots, a third are from Republicans, and a third from marijuana legalization advocates.

Here are a few questions I screencapped just from 5 minutes perusing the random question generator:

(Full screen version.)

Thanks to Katie Favazza and Sean Hackbarth who brought it to my attention, one of the most popular questions right now comes from Peter V. of Oregon, who asks:

I appreciate the efforts of the administration to fix the economy quickly. However, why aren’t you giving the American public the chance to review these bills? In your campaign, you promised we would have at least 5 days.

Indeed, the White House has brazenly walked back this transparency pledge, signing legislation hours after it was passed by both houses of Congress and blowing off the promised five-day cooling-off period. Had we had a real 5-day review period, an intrepid citizen would have had more time to uncover the AIG bonus provision before the bill was signed, potentially sparing us the current tedium.

Community moderation isn't perfect as the self-appointed moderators are more likely than not to be Obama supporters -- but dissenting questions are now appearing on the White House site, and there is a chance that with a little organizing they could be asked of Obama.

Now that we are in opposition, we need to hold the Administration's feet to the fire in demanding perpetually more web-enabled transparency (which, because of the nature of government, it will not always be able to give) -- and be ready to live by it ourselves.

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I posted a few as well...

...but got tired and stopped after a few. 

I am not really all that impressed with the layout on the website, Open for Questions, at Whitehouse dot gov. When you have to read through 17,850 questions on "jobs" you tend to get a little bored after the first few hundred.

Needless to say, simply using a bar graph to indicate an empirical value such as your vote seems to be odd. If I was going to manipulate the outcome, I would use bar graphs instead of real numbers to record your vote -- but that's just me.

But it is a start in applied deliberative groupward. It will get better. I certainly hope the new Republican party's web effort will have some deliverative groupware involved in its effort.  In fact, I think the web structure over at "Ask the President" is offers a better layout. It too, though, suffers from "overwhelming numbers" problem and therefore loses its focus.

Of course, I solve the "overwhelming numbers" problem at The National Online Party by breaking up the participants into small groups and only moving up subjects that have majority support  up to the next higher group in the structural chain.

ex animo


The Trillion Dollar Question

I've just created this which directes people to bring attention to a single question on the BHO site that I think is a very broad and legit question no matter your political preference.

I say: please help ask the President this trillion dollar question.

I know the answer he will give you.

FDR and his New Deal policies. It's all right there in the history books.

ex animo


The New Deal and the longest war in history?

The longest war in history being the war on poverty of course.

If Obama wants to use the New Deal as his model then he should be open about it and then the debate can resume whether the transfering of billions during the Depression (or trillions since) from producers and earners to nonproducers and nonearners helped or hurt.

It would be good to have that discussion about whether the policies of the thirties turned a recession into a depression or not.

As it stands now 100% of the economic foundation of his policies = "trust me." Not once has he said "it worked before, it'll work again."

While the war on poverty is a

While the war on poverty is a disaster on the left, we have seen trickle down as a failure on the right. After 8 years we have deficits and debt, higher unemployment, and more people without healthcare.  

Do the same thing over and over and expect a different result

Meanwhile, even Ben Smith and Michael Scherer are finally realizing that these type of efforts are just shams. That's something I've been saying for over a year and a half. You can see a list of those past efforts and an explanation of why they're shams here. Our host should be familiar with the weaknesses in these systems, since he took advantage of them to push one of his weaker questions to the top of one of them. That link briefly describes a better way to do things; a longer version of that proposal is here.

P.S. I could build the backend of that proposal using the same platform that runs this site fairly easily. What I can't provide is the network necessary to get questions and to make sure that they're answered.

Why not?

You could allow the participants themselves to answer the questions they wish to address, and allow deliberative functions to judge them accordingly.

Secondly, you could allow participants to check a box that would indicate they had special experience or training in the field they were responding too. If the box is marked, other participants could simply hit the button and be taken to the responder's profile and judge his/er experience was relevant or not in their grade.

ex animo


Yes It's A Sham

"these type of efforts are just shams" Yes, no doubt about it. Obama didn't field any questions from financial mags or newspapers in his last Q&A --- that is to say from people who may have a tough, detailed question or two.

So he gets to put this dog and pony show together (at what $ cost?) and pretend like he is answering America's questions... but unlike a live news room they get to pick and choose which questions to highlight.

Two prime time news conferences already

Guess you didn't see him on the TV live for an hour earlier this week taking questions. That is the second prime time press conference already in this new administration. The claim that he is ducking questions is pretty lame.

And as for the idea that business press knows the really good questions to ask: how many of them predicted the economic collapse we saw last fall?

How many?

How many predicted the market doing worse and not recovering if Obama was elected? Because history has shown time again that your can't add more burdens to the economy and have it perform -- and even more so during a time when confidence is fragile anyway...

His poilicies destoryed confidence and have meant that confidence has not returned.

And answer this: do you know Obama's answer to this very fundamental question:

"I'd like to know more about the precedents that are guiding your economic policies. Where in history have you looked to where more taxes and more spending helped an ailing economy?"

Seems like the answer to that should have been given BEFORE he was elected - and should definitely be answered now.

You are avoiding my question

You are avoiding my question -  I asked how many business publications foresaw the collapse?  Sure, once it has happened they can all play doom merchant practically on autopilot. But as wrong as they were then, who is to say they aren't just as wrong now?

As for the question you'd like to pose, the answer is that 95% of Americans are getting their taxes reduced, and for spending helping the economy, see Depression, Great, recovery therefrom.

And it repeats itself... (History that is)

Sure. You should pick up a Wall Street Journal. Some smark monkies over there. You should pick one up. Truthfully. They have been waving the red flag of Grenspan-era too-low interest rates and over-heated market - money-is-too-cheap situation for years!

They also called the gov-backed Fannie Freddie mess before anyone. Even beofre Fannie's? CEO was busted and went to jail? which was before the gov took them over. Why?

Because they knew that the politicians like Frank who helped them become overleveraged was not sustainable. Guess what? Bush and McCain knew that years ago too. They wanted more regulations to tell Fan and Fred that your portfolio is too dangerously overleveredged but Democrats and Republicans stood in their way.

What do these things say? That GOVERNMENT's distortions of the market are trouble makers.

Glad you think the massive spending of the New Deal was what got us out of the Depression (rather than caused its lengenthing along with isolationist trade laws, more taxes etc). I haven't heard much from the President making that case? I wonder why?

Facts about the New Deal

Hoss, meet Facts.

GDP recovered to pre-crash levels in 1940. So yes, the New Deal worked. And yes, it took a long time, but they had no tools or models to go on - everything had to be started from scratch. Luckily for the species some of us are capable of learning from the past.

Year       Nominal GDP ($B)

1929 $103.6
1930 $91.2
1931 $76.5
1932 $58.7
1933 $56.4
1934 $66.0
1935 $73.3
1936 $83.8
1937 $91.9
1938 $86.1
1939 $92.2
1940 $101.4
1941 $126.7
1942 $161.9
1943 $198.6


And as for the Wall Street Journal - would that be the same organization who came up with the theory that poor inner city borrowers are to blame for all the foreclosed McMansions in lily-white suburbia? Who started talking about the subprime issue in 2007 - only after it had become a hugely visible problem to everyone?

Great stuff

Good catch, great idea...I hope many join in the process.