question authority

Questions for politicians and political leaders

Many of today's political problems could be solved if people would get off their couches, grab their video cameras, and go ask politicians tough questions to their face at their public appearances. Those tough questions would point out flaws in the policies those politicians espouse, call them on their lies, and generally hold them accountable. Their answers to those questions can then be uploaded to video sharing sites so thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people can see them.

If politicians knew that regular citizens would expose their lies and call them on their flawed policies to their face on video, fewer of them would lie and fewer of them would offer flawed policies. Please note that I'm discussing questions, not just rants. I'm also not suggesting asking questions about relatively minor personal matters, hypocrisy, and so on. Note also that I'm referring to "prosecutorial-style" questions, which is quite a bit different from what's to be found on cable TV.

Please note: what many people think of as tough questions are in fact not tough at all. Almost all of the questions (and probably every one) that were asked at townhalls in the summer of 2009 were not in any way tough: they were simply requests for information, or rants, or open-ended questions that politicians were able to deflect with ease. Most questions for politicians you'll find online are like that. The questions I'm talking about are designed to make stock replies, deflections, etc. difficult; they're designed to discredit the person being asked by revealing flaws in their arguments, the fact that they can't think things though, the fact that they're lying about important issues, and so on. Please see this page for a more detailed discussion.

Don't count on the mainstream media to ask those type of questions: they've rarely shown an interest in actually pressing politicians on issues, and almost all of them have no knowledge of specialized topics.

Regular citizens have to ask these questions. And, if for some reason you can't do it, then at the very least you can urge others to get involved.

Some possible questions are among the posts listed below. A couple examples of what not to do are here. Some examples of questions that were asked are here. And, if you want to come up with your own questions, here are some tips.

And, here's the outlines of an action plan:

1. Find a few friends and start a local group. Your focus can be on one or more local politicians or on any national politicians who come to your area.
2. Find others to join the group; use Facebook, Craigslist, local newspaper and other forums, etc.
3. Compile a list of future public events that politicians will be attending in your area.
4. Recruit one or more people to ask questions; if you can find a trial lawyer or similar that would be great.
5. Find some questions; feel free to use the ones in the posts below or use the guide linked above. I'm also willing to edit questions for maximum effectiveness.
6. Get a video camera, a Youtube account, and Windows MovieMaker.
7. Go to the event and ask the question.
8. If you get a good response, upload it to Youtube and promote it via blogs, forums, Digg, Reddit, etc.

Last modified Jan 26, 2010
Discussed in (click each link for the full post):

How to protest Donald Trump effectively - 03/10/16

Dear potential Donald Trump protester:

I understand you want to protest Donald Trump and shout your disagreements with him to the world. However, the methods past protesters have used against him aren't very effective. No matter how many protesters he gets at his rallies, he keeps getting more and more popular. Why repeat the same failed methods, expecting a different result?

Questions you can use for the Teaparty Patriots Yellow Card project - 05/12/15

The Teaparty Patriots are launching a project called the Yellow Card campaign [1]. They're asking volunteers to visit appearances by GOP candidates and ask those candidates questions about their policies.

Their campaign is similar to the Question Authority plan that I've been promoting for around a decade, but better late than never even if it takes ten years, right?

There are however significant differences between the two plans:

Ask this Ebola question, earn $100 - 10/20/14

I'll give $100 (make that $170, see below) to the first person who uploads a video of them asking a national Democratic Party politician this question (subject to the rules below):

"If we'd had travel restrictions with West Africa, wouldn't it be much less likely that two American nurses would have been infected with Ebola inside the U.S.?"

The rules are very simple:

The Stop Amnesty Challenge - 10/08/14

It's vitally important to stop Obama's amnesty-by-executive-order now. If we don't stop it now, Obama could legalize millions of illegal aliens and rolling that back is going to be very difficult.

Thankfully, there's a way to stop Obama's amnesty right now. To make that happen, I'm announcing the Stop Amnesty Challenge. The winner and runner-up of the Challenge will win cash awards, but more importantly will have done a great public service.

Question about the DREAM Act - 10/08/14

This question is part of the Stop Amnesty Challenge. See that page for the details on the Challenge.

This is an advanced question that will require you getting into a brief debate with the politician. It may also involve you questioning their loyalty to their fellow citizens. If you're willing and able to do that, please use this question.

Question about subsidizing American farmworkers - 10/08/14

This question is part of the Stop Amnesty Challenge. See that page for the details on the Challenge.

This question is only for Republicans that support some type of comprehensive immigration reform or guest workers or mass legalization. That's most national GOP leaders, including those who say they don't support amnesty.

Question about immigration reform being an amnesty for employers - 10/07/14

This question is part of the Stop Amnesty Challenge. See that page for the details on the Challenge.

Question about Obama's executive order on immigration - 10/07/14

This question is part of the Stop Amnesty Challenge. See that page for the details on the Challenge.

This question is appropriate for Democratic Party leaders in Congress and the Obama administration, especially those who've clashed with WalMart in one way or another. See the immigration wage floor page for background.

Here's the question [1]:

Question about Ebola and skilled immigration - 10/06/14

This question is part of the Stop Amnesty Challenge. See that page for the details on the Challenge.

This is the basic question:

I'd like to ask you about immigration to the U.S. by skilled professionals, something you support.

Stop Obama's Executive Order: Ask Tough Questions at August 2014 Townhalls (list of meetings) - 08/05/14

This post describes one of the best ways to block Obama's Executive Order that might in effect legalize millions of illegal aliens. Congresspersons are holding several meetings in their areas during August 2014 and if they receive a great deal of pushback they'll pressure Obama not to issue his executive order.

But, that pushback has to be smart. Simply going to a townhall and ranting or asking weak questions won't work. Many politicians are lawyers, and they know how to bluff their way around rants and weak questions.

40 Questions Neel Kashkari Refuses to Answer - 06/21/14

[UPDATE: Kashkari smeared me on the radio for asking him these questions]

California GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari refuses to answer tough questions about his immigration policy.

Questions for Michelle Obama about immigration - 06/18/14

Taking a break from her many other tasks, Michelle Obama spoke [1] at a naturalization ceremony earlier today and, as many other past and present political figures have done, used the opportunity to promote comprehensive immigration reform.

Immigration questions for Neel Kashkari (California, governor) - 05/15/14

Former George W Bush administration official Neel Kashkari and clownish Tea Parties type Tim Donnelly are vying to be the Republican who'll lose to Jerry Brown in the

Questions for Dara Lind of Vox Media (immigration "cards") - 04/07/14

Vox Media is a new, corporate-sponsored [1] venture from Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, and others (see those links). One of their not-so-innovations is "cards": a series of blurbs about one topic divided into several pages.

Tough questions for the White House "Big Block of Cheese Day" - 01/25/14

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014 the White House will be holding a virtual "Big Block of Cheese Day" during which administration officials will answer questions from the public on various social media sites. The name isn't quite as stupid as you might first expect; per this:

10 immigration questions for Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, FWD.us) - 11/24/13

The video [1] below shows Mark Zuckerberg - CEO of Facebook and founder of the advocacy group FWD . us - promoting comprehensive immigration reform.

Charlie Rose's very weak immigration interview with Jose Antonio Vargas - 09/29/13

In June 2012, Charlie Rose interviewed illegal alien journalist Jose Vargas on CBS News' This Morning. They discussed the Time Magazine cover story Vargas authored called "We Are Americans/Just Not Legally".

Ask Reince Priebus these questions about the RNC immigration amnesty resolution - 08/17/13

The RNC recently passed a resolution calling for a limited form of comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty for illegal aliens).

Ask Reince Priebus this very basic immigration question he doesn't realize he raised (RNC chairman) - 06/28/13

This site has covered politicians saying some dumb things, and the following quote from RNC chairman Reince Priebus ranks right up there (link):

Questions for Kelly Ayotte about comprehensive immigration reform (amnesty, New Hampshire) - 06/09/13

New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte comes out for comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty) in an OpEd entitled "Why I'm backing legislation to fix our broken immigration system" [1].

Questions for the United Methodist Church on immigration (UMC, GBCS) - 02/08/13

The United Methodist Church (through their General Board) supports comprehensive immigration reform (aka amnesty). Here are some questions about that position keyed to umc-gbcs.org/issues/immigration

At that page, they write:

Questions about the "high" cost of immigration enforcement - 01/07/13

The Migration Policy Institute has released a study claiming that the cost of immigration enforcement is too high.

Here are some questions for those leaders who are using the study to push their loose immigration/amnesty agendas. They should be able to answer these questions, yet the chance of any of them doing so is small. Since they won't and can't answer these questions convincingly, please re-evaluate whether you should take their advice on policy.

Mike Steele of Us Weekly: ask Obama these questions - 10/16/12

Dear Mike Steele, Editor-in-Chief of Us Weekly:

I see that you're soliciting questions from your readers that you'll ask of Barack Obama in an upcoming interview (link). I have four questions that I urge you to ask.

Ask The Atlantic evades a tough immigration question (Garance Franke-Ruta, amnesty) - 09/14/12

Earlier today, Garance Franke Ruta of The Atlantic conducted a live chat and continually evaded my attempts to ask about the negative impact that Obama's amnesty will have on struggling American workers.

GOP consultants: which Hispanic outreach approach is better? - 08/30/12

Here are some quick questions for GOP consultants, pundits, and other thought leaders. If you consult Republican politicians or are in a related field, please answer the questions below [1].

If that's not you, you can still help out by asking consultants the questions below.

If you're a consultant/pundit/etc., I'd like you to first take a look at these two approaches to Hispanic outreach:

Approach A:

Questions for fiscal conservatives (and Teaparty and libertarians) - 08/09/12

Fiscal conservatives have influence far outstripping their numbers [1]. That isn't because their ideas are good for the U.S., but because their ideas are rarely examined in depth. You'd be hard-pressed to find fiscal conservatives being walked through all the impacts of their policies [2].

Let's change that.

Here are 27 questions for fiscal cons, and you're urged to go to appearances by those who adhere to that ideology and ask them.

Challenge: get Ted Cruz to oppose Comprehensive Immigration Reform and describe his legalization and guest worker stance - 07/27/12

As detailed here and here, Senate contender from Texas Ted Cruz keeps repeating the same basic speech on immigration and doesn't disclose whether he would support some form of

Jesse Ferguson of DCCC: why can't Democrats debate? (trackers stalking politicians) - 07/18/12

Dear Jesse Ferguson, National Press Secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC):

I'm writing about Democratic Party trackers stalking politicians and posting videos of their homes online. About that creepy effort, you say:

Questions for skilled immigration supporters - 07/16/12

Massive skilled immigration has or could have serious consequences both for the U.S. and other countries, but you'll rarely hear anything about that from its loudest advocates.

What's worse, the establishment media refuses to ask those advocates about the downsides of what they promote, instead choosing to simply retransmit their flawed ideas.

Now, here's your chance to change things.

Questions for Michel Martin: Tell Me More about your illegal immigration propaganda - 12/10/11

NPR has been on a pro-illegal immigration kick lately, and one recent example is the completely absurd "Illegal Farm Worker Becomes Brain Surgeon" [1] from Michel Martin's "Tell Me More" show. The problem with the story isn't the brain surgeon's compelling personal tale, it's that NPR is engaged in obvious propaganda rather than anything remotely approaching journalism.

My brief Twitter chat with Gary Johnson on immigration - 04/25/11

The graphic below shows the questions I posed to Gary Johnson on Twitter today when he conducted a live chat. Obviously, accusing him of not replying wasn't a smart move, but my Twittering setup isn't ideal [1]. On the other hand, when he did reply it wasn't exactly to my questions and he didn't respond to my follow-ups.

Immigration questions for Gary Johnson - 04/25/11

I've previously shown how former New Mexico governor and current U.S. presidential candidate Gary Johnson is wrong on immigration. Now, based on the video below and his past statements, here are some questions for him.

Another Youtube/Obama scam: ask State of the Union questions - 01/26/11

[UPDATE: Make sure and see this too]

Youtube and Barack Obama are conducting yet another scam, soliciting questions for Obama based on the State of the Union that he'll answer on Thursday, January 27. Other users vote up or down submitted questions, and then Obama will answer the top vote-getters.

The questions that get the most votes will invariably not be the best questions, the ones that Obama should be pressed on. In fact, they're likely to be some of the weakest questions of all. Obama and all other politicians should be "cross-examined" over their policies, and this latest scam will not even come close.

How systems like this are scams has already been discussed over and over with several examples involving Obama, Youtube, and others on the popular voting systems and Youtube corporate pages. If you don't agree that such systems are scams, see those pages and the past examples.

I submitted the following three questions to their immigration category; I'm not even going to bother suggesting voting them up because I know they'll never get enough of a vote differential between up and down.

For instance, at post time, six people like the DREAM Act question but five don't. The question is perfectly valid, very important, and needs to be asked. Yet, five people don't want it to be asked despite how valid it is. Under my plan (see the popular voting systems page), that wouldn't happen: known quantities who participated would be voting on how tough a question is, and if they unjustifiably voted a very tough question down they could be held publicly accountable.

Here are the questions; you might be able to find them through a search or here:

The Fed is profiting from money that illegal aliens send home to Mexico through their Directo a Mexico program ( http://24ahead.com/n/5978 ). Do you agree that a federal entity seeking to profit from illegally-earned money is a sign of corruption?

Do you agree that both college slots and college funding are finite? Do you agree that any college slots/funding given to illegal aliens under the DREAM Act will deprive some U.S. citizens of college? (attached video: youtube.com/watch?v=WZkvEmSy1vk)

Due to massive legal & illegal immigration, do you admit that the Mexican gov't has political power inside the U.S.? Do you agree that foreign countries shouldn't have political power inside the U.S.? What do you intend to do about it?

1/27/11 UPDATE 1: As yet another example of how Google Moderator (the software used in this case) and popular voting systems in general don't work, with voting closed the top 80 or so questions are all about pot. Those voting up the questions didn't abuse the system, they followed the rules of the system. And, the system revealed its flaws.

As for my questions, they have up/down votes of 9/6, 6/5, and 4/4 respectively. Meanwhile, this has 3152/282:

Mr. President, what is your stance on Net Neutrality? What do you intend to do to keep the internet free from censorship?

Obama's stance on Net Neutrality has been known for years and years and the FCC has taken steps in that area. A question that was going to do a public service would ask Obama a specific question about what his FCC has done in that specific area, based on a full knowledge of what they've said and done. Instead, questions like that just allow politicians to give stock speeches they've given many times before.

And, MoveOn voted up a similarly weak question about Net Neutrality in 2007 in a similar sham.

1/27/11 UPDATE 2: The event went exactly as expected: it was a complete sham. Steve Grove asked a series of weak questions, including some that were even weaker than "boxers or briefs?" And, Youtube managed to get in various plugs for their service, occasionally using the president of the U.S. as little more than a prop to promote a commercial company.

Video is attached, and at 33:00 you'll see Obama answer the only immigration question, about the anti-American DREAM Act. Instead of calling Obama on the downsides of that bill, Grove simply introduced a video of an apparent illegal alien and asked Obama when the bill might pass. (And, didn't call Obama on his use of nation of immigrants).

Personal anecdotes about the DREAM Act are not at all difficult to find (see dozens on the PIIPP page), but a debate about the downsides is very difficult to find. There are two or more sides to every story, yet all Youtube could do is present one side without acknowledging the viewpoint of another side.

1/28/11 UPDATE: I fixed the bad year (10) in the updates above. More importantly, the DREAM Act question that Grove chose is unpopular, but just happens to be from an organization that's partnered with Youtube in the past. See the link for the details.

Immigration questions for Sean Bielat - 10/25/10

Sean Bielat is the tea parties favorite who's challenging Barney Frank for Congress from Massachusetts. His immigration position follows [1], followed by some questions for him. In the following, each number in parens indicates a question below. I'll invite him via Twitter [2] to answer these questions, and the reader is invited to do the same: @SeanBielat.

I believe in an America that protects our citizens' civil liberties (see #1) and our borders. The federal government's negligence on immigration and border security makes everyone less safe and more vulnerable.

Workers deserve the protections granted under law and employers need to rely on a ready workforce to keep their businesses and our economy strong. Thoughtful immigration reform (see #2) must do the following:

* Secure our borders to seal out terrorists, drug gangs and human traffickers (see #3)
* Recognize and address the special burden on border states
* Welcome documented workers who keep our economy strong and contribute to our social fabric (see #4, #5, & #6)
* Investigate immigration status only if someone is stopped for other violations; Americans, regardless of their ethnicity, must never feel as though their country does not welcome them. (see #1)

And, here are my questions based on the above:

#1: That seems to be generally supportive of the Arizona law (as it's been amended). Is that correct? On a sidenote, how have the Border Patrol and similar agencies in other countries been able to successfully determine whether someone is likely a citizen or not in literally millions of cases for decades, all without violating someone's rights? When will you be asking opponents of the Arizona law that question?

#2: From that can we assume that you support comprehensive immigration reform? Note that I'm not asking whether you support "amnesty" (see reform not amnesty), just whether you'd support some form of CIR.

#3: And, how exactly would you do that? For instance, under CIR it would take 5 to 10 years to do FBI-level background checks on the 10 million or so who could be covered by CIR. How could you weed out terrorists if only light background checks are done that only rely on information provided by the Mexican government and similar entities?

#4: Do you agree that some "documented workers" who aren't criminals or terrorists can still have a negative impact on our "social fabric"? For instance, many Mexicans have ideas that aren't exactly conducive to assimilation. They also form a power base within our country for the far-left, the Democrats, and the Mexican government. What exactly would you do about that?

#5: Can we assume that you support some form of guest workers program? What general form would that take? What would you do about the fact that to a good extent such programs are shams? That is, employers could find Americans if they really wanted but they don't for various reasons. Would you give in to them, or stand up to them? Would you discuss $50/hour lettuce picking jobs, or would you call corrupt growers on crops rotting in the fields?

#6: Finally, how would you deal with the fact that "guest" workers will have U.S. citizen children? The far-left strongly opposes most immigration enforcement, and they do so even more strongly when it involves mixed-status families. What do you intend to do about the fact that it will be hard to deport "guests" who have U.S. citizen children?

-----------------------------------
[1] From seanbielat.org/time-new-voice#Immigration

[2] I tweeted him a few days ago asking him the question in #6 above, and he replied that answering such questions in just a 140 character tweet is difficult. Thus, this opportunity for him to clarify his position.

Ask Harry Reid about his strong immigration bill from 1993 - 08/13/10

The 1993 immigration bill introduced by Harry Reid - a bill that would make both me and Tom Tancredo proud - is in the news again due to its birthright citizenship provisions.

Calling "flip-flop" isn't as effective as discussing actual policies. So, if you want to do a public service, ask Reid about that bill at one of his public appearances and then upload video of his response to video sharing sites; see the question authority page for an action plan.

For instance, you can ask Reid a question like the following:

"Sen. Reid, your 1993 immigration bill - something you later apologized for - sought to, among many other things, reduce alien smuggling. If you'd pursued that bill instead of withdrawing it, wouldn't there be fewer alien smuggling cases than there have been?"

I can come up with better questions on request, but based on over three years' experience I'm not going to get my hopes up. However, if you're in Nevada and want to do a public service, ask him that question or leave your information in comments and I'll come up with something more iron-clad.

"Demand Question Time": another bipartisan sham (petition, demandquestiontime.com) - 02/03/10

A series of Beltway insiders, bloggers, and journalists have launched an online petition at demandquestiontime.com calling for repeats of the recent question and answer session Barack Obama held with House GOP leaders. In and of itself this isn't such a bad idea, at least from the entertainment standpoint. However, it's a very bad idea to the extent that it will be falsely presented as a real dialogue about vital issues. It's yet another sham, a slightly elevated version of debates held on the Hannity show.

As can be seen by the questions asked at the first event, the GOP isn't about to ask Obama embarrassing questions in a prosecutorial or even adversarial manner. And, there are topics on which he's highly vulnerable - such as immigration - that many in the Republican leadership don't want to discuss either. The GOP just can't be trusted to hold Obama accountable on immigration and a range of other topics. These events wouldn't be as fake as, say, WWE, but they're definitely Beltway-friendly and largely just for show.

The alternative is for those outside the Beltway to follow the question authority plan and use smart, adversarial questions to "cross-examine" political leaders and attempt to discredit them by showing how they've lied, misled, or failed to think their policies through. You aren't going to get anything like that from the "Question Time" events. Note that I've been promoting the question authority plan for just about three years and I've gotten almost no help with it.

Those behind the petition include a whole host of those who have little interest in rocking the boat (link):

supporters include Grover Norquist, Joe Trippi, Mark McKinnon, Ed Morrissey, Ari Melber, Katrina vanden Heuvel... Eli Pariser... Markos Moulitsas (Kos)... Ari Melber, Ana Marie Cox and Nate Silver. The steering committee is made up of Micah Sifry, David Corn, Mike Moffo, Mindy Finn (note: affiliated with Patrick Ruffini), Jon Henke and Glenn Reynolds.

That list is a very, very big clue as to what we're dealing with.

If anyone has heard of Jon Henke of The Next Right be sure and see that link. And, see the Reynolds link above for his past efforts such as encouraging people to swarm politicians and hold bunny ears behind their heads. Before the election I tried to get him and others to promote the question authority plan and he refused. See Morrissey's name for more on him, noting that when he interviewed Mike Huckabee he failed to ask him about immigration, his weakest position.

Note also that some of these same people were involved in other shams such as the Open Debate Coalition and 10 Questions.

Ask Jonah Goldberg: do you support childish mocking of Obama, or Buckley-style questioning? - 01/28/10

Jonah Goldberg of National Review is promoting (link) a reader's letter that suggests that Republicans laugh at and mock Barack Obama because he has a "glass jaw". Can the reader imagine William F.

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