Monday, October 25, 2010

2nd Amendment questions from a voter

Mr. Puente,

Greetings. I am a Utah 3rd district voter and a gun owner. I'm trying to gather information on where all of Utah's 2010 candidates for public office stand on a couple gun issues. I would therefore like to ask for your cooperation in briefly answering the following questions:

1) To what extent do you support civilian gun ownership?

I believe in the natural right of all individuals to protect themselves and to have access to the tools that allow them to do so including firearms insomuch as they do not infringe on the rights of others to do the same.

2) What are your views on gun restriction laws and in particular "gun free zones"?

Such legislation does not prevent crime or deny criminals access to such weapons. They only infringe upon the natural rights of law abiding citizens to acquire and legally use such firearms however they please--again, as long as they do not use those tools to infringe on the rights of others. I do not support so-called "gun free zones" and find the very concept asinine.

3) What policies, if any, will you support to change current laws regarding conceal/carry permits?

I personally do not own any firearms so I'm not that familiar with conceal/carry laws. I have used firearms recreationally on occasion and as part of my training when I served in the U.S. Navy and, frankly, I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if my life depended on it. I have no issue with any law abiding citizen who chooses to own a gun for their protection--including the right to carry a concealed weapon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign for Liberty Questionnaire for Federal Candidates

I actually missed the Campaign for Liberty's deadline for this questionnaire but I still feel a certain obligation to answer the questions, even if it's only on my blog.

A few thoughts on the questions before I proceed: I couldn't help but notice that the options that were given me on the form were only "Yes" or "No" and I was not allowed to explain any of my answers. The wording of the questions was also peculiar in that they alternated between asking if I "support" something or if I "oppose" something. The reason for this is because "Yes" answers are preferable to "No" answers in the eyes of the Campaign for Liberty. Look at the answers given by candidates and you can see that the "Y"s are in green and the "N"s are black. This makes it easier for people to make quick--albeit superficial--judgments about where the candidates stand on the issues.

Well, I am NOT a superficial candidate and I do not believe that there are simple answers to any of the issues facing our country so I'm going to do what the Campaign for Liberty wouldn't allow me to, offer more than a simplistic, one-word answer to these questions.

1. Will you cosponsor and call for roll call votes on Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed bill, designed to bring transparency to the Federal Reserve (H.R. 1207/ S. 604 in the 111th Congress)?

Absolutely! The Federal Reserve has been given so much power that it operates practically as a fourth branch of our government and the people of the United States deserves to know what they're doing and how they do it.

2. Will you support legislation removing capital gains and sales taxes on gold and silver coinage?

Sure. Considering the concerns that more and more Americans have about our currency, I see no reason to give people such a break on investments in solid commodities like gold and other precious metals.

3. Will you vote to oppose any legislation that allows the federal government to prohibit the sale, use, or carrying of firearms?

Sure. This country has enough firearms legislation. We don't need to bog down the system with more restrictions. If people want to own a gun, let them. It's their right.

4. Will you support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution that includes hard spending limits and allows for no increase in taxes or other federal revenue enhancements?

I do NOT support a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Government needs the flexibility to run budget deficits during emergencies such as wars and times of economic crisis. Considering rates of inflation and other financial variables I can't support hard limits on spending or limiting Congress' Constitutional authority to levy taxes.

5. Will you support legislation that forbids U.S. troops from serving under United Nations command?

In principle, yes. But is legislation actually needed? The command authority for U.S. Troops lies solely with the civilian government of the United States--or am I mistaken?

6. Do you support and will you vote to protect states asserting their rights under the Tenth Amendment?

Yes. I honestly can't think of anything else to say about this. :-)

7. Will you oppose Big Labor’s Card Check bill and any other legislation designed to empower union bosses?

No. I do not buy into the belief that unions are "bad." Unions helped create the middle class in this country. My dad was a union man and his union took very good care of him, enabling him to earn a wage that allowed him to support his family and own a home. Considering the fact that union jobs have decreased considerably over the last generation--coupled with stagnant wages for working Americans--I find the idea that unions are hurting business is asinine. I discuss my position on unions in more detail in a separate blog post.

8. Do you support U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations?

No. I think there needs to be a forum for international dialogue and the U.N. serves in that capacity sufficiently enough.

9. Will you support the American Sovereignty Act to restrict the Executive’s ability to forge international agreements that lessen our sovereignty?

This is kind of a trick question because it basically repeats the last question. I could see someone reading it and simply answering "Yes" out of fear of Executive power and "lessening our sovereignty." Of course, when one actually looks up the "American Sovereignty Act," it's primary purpose is to get the United States out of the U.N. which I do not support for reasons expressed in my answer to the previous question.

10. Will you oppose using U.S. forces to occupy a foreign nation without a declaration of war?

Considering the fact that every conflict the U.S. has participated in since World War II has been with only tacet approval of the Congress without a full declaration of war, I can honestly answer this question with a yes. I also find it interesting that it specifically speaks of U.S. occupation and says nothing about air or missile strikes.

11. Will you oppose any attempt to nationalize our health care system, including any sort of public option for insurance?

I think I've been pretty clear on where I stand vis-à-vis healthcare reform. However--despite the fact that healthcare reform legislation has been passed without a public option, making the latter part of the question moot--I don't care for the wording of the question because there are different definitions, especially political ones, for "nationalizing" healthcare. Republicans are convinced that the healthcare legislation signed into law in 2010 is "socialized healthcare" when, in reality, there's very little socialization about it. Is an individual mandate and so-called health exchanges--consisting of private insurance companies--really socialistic? I don't think so. Especially when one considers that the legislation that was passed has more in common with the Republican alternative to Hilary Clinton's healthcare proposal than it does a truly nationalized system like the UK's NHS--and the US's VA healthcare system--let alone a single-payer system like Medicare or the aforementioned "public option."

This is what healthcare reform comes down to for me. The legislation signed into law by President Obama doesn't go far enough to truly reform the system that we have now. I support measures that leave healthcare in private hands but eliminates the profit motive without creating any new government programs.

However, should the U.S. government choose to implement a single-payer system in the future, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it. Is that a "nationalized" healthcare system? Technically, no. I already use a system that is owned and operated by the government, the VA healthcare system, and I can testify that such a program wouldn't be a good idea to implement for civilians in the U.S. I discuss the concerns of constitutional authority in regard to government action regarding healthcare but I would not object to a legal interpretation that says the federal government has the authority to implement a single-payer healthcare system--or public option--under the general welfare clause. Some self-annointed constitutional purists might object to such an interpretation, arguing that the founding fathers didn't interpret "general welfare" in such a way but that would be misleading. Even the founding fathers had differing opinions on how the general welfare clause was to be interpreted, some stating that it refers to the welfare of the states and others the welfare of the people.

12. Will you oppose so-called “Cap and Trade” legislation?

No. Considering the fact that cap and trade legislation has been implemented successfully in the past to curb sulfur-dioxide emissions, I have no problem with implementing similar legislation to curb carbon dioxide emissions. I have no issue with a carbon tax either. Curbing our nation's dependence on fossil fuels is essential to both our environmental and national security interests and the sooner we start weaning ourselves from oil, coal and gas in favor of nuclear, wind and solar energy, the better.

13. Will you vote to eliminate the IRS?

And replace it with what? There must be a means to collect taxes. Give me an alternative to the IRS and I might support eliminating it.

14. Will you vote against any budget that increases our debt?

In the middle of the worst economic crisis in generations when depleting tax revenue is going to increase the debt anyway, what sense would that make? How about pulling all our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq immediately, shutting down overseas bases that serve only to subsidize the defenses of foreign nations and cutting our bloated defense budget instead?

15. Will you oppose federal power grabs like roving wiretaps and warrantless searches, and oppose Patriot Act renewal that includes such items?

I never liked the Patriot Act to begin with so how about we just repeal the damned thing?

16. Will you oppose any legislation that requires states and citizens to participate in a National Identification Card program?

This I can answer with a resounding YES! I already have a perfectly valid state-issued ID and a social security card. I don't need anything else cluttering up my wallet.

17. Will you oppose the so-called “NAFTA Superhighway” and any move toward a North American Union?

I'll go with a "Yes" on this question. Does anyone seriously think that we need a "NAFTA Superhighway"? We already have interstate highways that effectively connect the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Instead of making new highways, how about we just maintain and upgrade the ones we already have? As for a "North American Union," that's pretty much been taken care of with NAFTA as it is and I'm not even too crazy about how that's worked out for us. We certainly don't need a new currency, especially when one considers that the U.S. dollar is a de facto international currency as it is.

18. Will you support legislation that ensures Members of Congress have at least 72 hours to read any bill before it is allowed to come to the House floor?

Yes! Does this really need an explanation?

19. Will you oppose all tax increases?

Considering the fact that most budget items are sacred cows and even penny-ante earmark appropriations are pork in the eyes of their critics and "vital public programs" in the eyes of their sponsors, tax increases are all but inevitable. The fact that our nation is trillions of dollars in debt because GOP policies that gave tax breaks to rich people and spent money as if it grew on trees, the time is going to come where people are going to have to bite the bullet and actually PAY for the government they put into power.

20. Indicate the tax cuts you are willing to vote for:
[ ] Across the Board Income Tax Cut
[ ] Capital Gains Tax Cut
[ ] Business Tax Cut
[ ] Estate Tax Cut

Again, I was given check boxes and not allowed to explain or justify any choice I would make. So, here goes:

I do not support an across the board income tax cut. We got that in 2001 and again in 2003 and look where it got us. I'll support extending the bush tax cuts across the board for a few years but then I'd come right in with a millionaires tax because they can afford it.

I do not support capital gains tax cuts, especially for people who accept stock in leu of a salary. Why the hell should some overpaid CEO only pay 15% on his income just because it isn't in the form of cash?

I do support tax cuts for businesses but only as incentives for investing in domestic production or for corporations that choose to reorganize as mutual companies and cooperatives.

The only people who complain about estate taxes are people with actual estates--i.e., the super rich. This nation is in debt, it needs revenue and the super rich have enjoyed their wealth on the backs of the middle class for too long. Politicians like to call the estate tax a "death" tax because it's so scary and absurd sounding. Well, Benjamin Franklin said that the only certainties in life are death and taxes and no one can avoid either of them. Why should we make exceptions for millionaires?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Questions from a voter

Mr. Puente,

Could you please provide me with your position and opinion on the following topics....


For my opinion on the abortion issue, I'll direct you to the following posts on my blog:


I support a terminally ill patient's right to die with dignity. If there is absolutely no quality of life for an individual who is suffering from the pain and agony associated with measures taken to extend their life despite the fact that their illness is terminal, if that patient should choose not go on with treatment and put an end to their needless suffering, I see no problem with allowing them access to resources to reach that end. Let there be no misunderstanding however that the decision should be that of the patient and no one else.

Fetal Stem Cell Research

I have no issue with fetal stem cell research.

Human Cloning

I'm okay with research into therapeutic cloning where specific kinds of human tissue can be cloned to create replacement organs but I am probably just as creeped out by the concept of cloning an entire human being as most people.

Homosexual "Marriage"

I have a personal definition of marriage that is consistent with the teachings of my religion but I don't think it prudent or even legal for me or anyone else to try and force that religious definition onto other people who don't share my religious views or choose not to adhere to any religion at all. I recognize that the definition of marriage as a civil contract between two individuals is subject to evolve and include relationships that fall outside of "traditional/religious" contexts. Since the rights of religions to define marriage and its practice are protected by the First Amendment, there is no need to codify any sort of additional protections for those religions and their adherents; to do so would be redundant considering the scope of the First Amendment.

That being said, I believe in equal rights for everyone regardless of age, race, religion, creed, color, sexual orientation or gender identity. I have been a strong supporter of the Common Ground Initiative and the organization Equality Utah. I also support the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act signed into law in October of 2009 and coincidentally opposed quite vocally by my opponent, the incumbent Congressman Jason Chaffetz. I am opposed to any sort of legislation that would attempt to exclude a minority group from equal protection under the law. This would include the unfair restrictions placed on homosexual members of the U.S. armed forces under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and any amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would define marriage based on a religious definition instead of a legal definition. I also voted against Amendment 3 to Utah's Constitution in 2004.

As I stated in a video blog post on this topic:

Hospice Patients Alliance Q&A

Do you support physician-assisted suicide?

I support a terminally ill patient's right to die with dignity. If there is absolutely no quality of life for an individual who is suffering from the pain and agony associated with measures taken to extend their life despite the fact that their illness is terminal, if that patient should choose not go on with treatment and put an end to their needless suffering, I see no problem with allowing them access to resources to reach that end. Let there be no misunderstanding however that the decision should be that of the patient and no one else.

How do you plan to protect the elderly if health care is to be financed through cuts in Medicare?

That is a complicated question and I do not have the answer to it. Suffice it to say that the costs of Medicare are tied directly to the costs of healthcare in general. I think that our government owes it not only to the elderly but to all Americans to do everything it can to put into place policies that will bring down the costs of healthcare such as removing anti-trust exemptions that insurance companies have been abusing for years, passing legislation requiring that all health insurance companies operate as non profit corporations, mutual companies or cooperatives to ensure premiums are used to pay for treatment and not pad the pockets of executives or inflate share prices--I think that health insurance should NOT be a publicly traded commodity. I think the federal government should do all that it is constitutionally permitted to in order to make sure that people can be treated for their illnesses and not be financially crippled for it.

Do you favor restricting access to health care for the elderly that they presently enjoy?

Absolutely NOT.

Would you vote to change the current healthcare law to better protect terminally ill patients and the elderly?

I find this question to be somewhat vague. Protect them from what exactly?

How do you plan to protect them?

Again, if I knew what I am supposed to protect them from, I could more easily answer the question.


I've been answering a lot of questions from a lot of people and organizations. When it comes to questions from organization that have a specific political agenda, I find a number of their questions to be leading, biased and even manipulative. I do my best to answer them all honestly but I won't allow myself to be manipulated into answering vague questions that often serve ambiguous agendas and clandestine interests. -JLP

Deseret News/KSL Candidiate Questionnaire‏

1. What is your top priority for the United States?

The issue that's at the top of my priorities is bringing about publicly funded elections. Until special interests are put into check in Washington, no other issues will matter. Efforts to reform them in the current political environment will be undermined by meddling lobbyists and their corporate backers to make sure that whatever laws are past will work to their advantage and not for the public good. America has had enough of Government working for corporations and special interests at the expense of the people. There is legislation in Congress RIGHT NOW to bring this much needed reform to Washington. It's called the "Fair Elections Now Act" (H.R. 1826 & S. 752).

2. Describe your solution to the U.S. illegal immigration problem. What specifically should be done about the over 10-million illegal immigrants who are now in the United States? Do you favor or oppose some kind of pathway to legal status for the current illegal immigrants?

The solution to illegal immigration lies in enforcing existing labor and immigration laws. The first and most effective step is to crack down on U.S. companies that hire undocumented workers illegally and penalize them for it. Our government has been turning a blind eye to this--the core of the illegal immigration problem--for far too long. Once American companies stop hiring undocumented workers then the flow of illegal immigrants will simply go away. If there is no work for illegals then they will stop crossing our borders.

As for the illegal immigrants who are here now, one suggestion that I find appealing is to give illegal immigrants a year to leave the country peacefully and they can take with them any property they have acquired since being here. If the political will exists to more stringently enforce existing immigration laws to arrest, process and deport illegal aliens, I can get behind that as well. It must be understood that taking these measures will not be cheap. Part of the costs can be covered by confiscating money and property held by illegals and fines imposed on the companies that hire them but I doubt that will cover all the expenses. There will most likely need to be funding allocated by congress to shore up the resources of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to carry this out.

If Congress collectively lacks the political will to enforce these laws but can somehow get it together enough to enact legislation to provide legal status for otherwise law-abiding undocumented workers, that's something that I could get behind as well. Even Ronald Reagan supported amnesty for illegal aliens as a practical alternative.

3. Do you support the Affordable Care Act (health care reform)? If not, how would you fix America’s health care crisis?

I stand strongly against the Federal government interfering in matters it is not Constitutionally authorized to enter into. Thus far, early court challenges to the ACA have been defeated with rulings that state that the legislation is NOT unconstitutional. While the ACA is certainly flawed legislation and there are elements that I would like to see repealed--like the individual mandate--other elements I think were a long time coming and acceptable but more needs to be done to fix our healthcare system. I think that there are other solutions that the federal government can implement to make genuine healthcare reform easier to achieve such as removing anti-trust exemptions that insurance companies have been abusing for years, passing legislation requirement that all health insurance companies operate as non profit corporations, mutual companies or cooperatives to ensure premiums are used to pay for treatment and not pad the pockets of executives or inflate share prices--I think that health insurance should NOT be a publicly traded commodity. I think the federal government should do all that it is constitutionally permitted to in order to make sure that people can be treated for their illnesses and not be financially crippled for it. If anything, the federal government should do what it can to help individual states implement healthcare reform that meets the unique needs of each state and not try to implement a federal catch-all system that might work for one state, be overkill for another or fall short of the needs for a third.

4. What can be done to improve the U.S. economy? How will you help?

Short answer, put people to work. 70% of our economy is driven by consumer spending. Over the last 30 years wages for working Americans has stagnated and the only way they've been able to keep our economy going has been to go deeper and deeper into debt with credit cards and drawing on the equity in their homes. This was unsustainable. The housing bubble burst, most people can't get credit anymore and people who manage to find work are working two and three jobs just to keep their heads above water. I am not opposed to government expenditures to rebuild our nations infrastructure in oder to put people to work so they can start consuming again. Our government also needs to enact legislation that encourages the private sector to bring jobs back to the states--for example, we should amend our current trade policies to require that our foreign trading partners pay their workers better wages so that US firms don't automatically shut down American factories in order to take advantage of obscenely cheaper wages overseas. As a nation, we should also make access to higher education easier for all Americans. We've all seen the statistics: the more education a person has, the more successful that person is. Give everyone equal access to higher education and you make it possible for those people to have access to better paying jobs. Policies also need to be implemented to ensure that incomes keep pace with economic growth. One part of that equation that I'd like to see implemented would be to tie Congressional salaries to the median income of the nation. Were that to be implemented now, the salary of a freshman representative would be cut by almost two thirds. If Congress wants to give itself a pay raise, then they should enact laws that enable an increase in incomes for the average American worker. There are many other solutions to this very complicated problem and I'm willing to explore all possible solutions.

5. Utah is famous for its beautiful landscapes. What will you do to protect and promote these areas?

Everything I can to keep greedy industrialists' hands OFF of them. I was at a meet the candidates event where a candidate for public office spoke of $1 trillion in natural resources that exist under the Grand Staircase National Monument. What good is accessing those "natural resources" if, in the process, we destroy a beautiful natural formation that can bring in MORE revenue to our state over the longterm through our tourism industry? We need to remember that there are long term benefits to protecting our landscapes that are more important and ultimately more profitable for tourism than short term profits for other industries.

6. What are your views on federal funding for embryonic and adult stem cell research?

I have no problem with federal funding for such research.

7. Are you willing to work with members of other political parties to accomplish changes in Washington?

Absolutely. The behavior of party politicians over the last few years has been childish to say the least. I would personally like to see Americans giving party politicians the boot in favor of independent representatives. Party politics is destroying this nation and has destroyed the democratic process that we claim to hold dear. The duopoly of Democrats and Republicans has done everything it can to shore up their own political power at the expense of the public good. To quote the one truly independent president this country has ever had, "The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism... and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of Public Liberty." -George Washington, 1796

8. What are your views on nuclear testing?

We don't need it. We already have enough nuclear weapons to destroy our planet several times over. We don't need to test new ones.

9. When you are forming an opinion on an issue, who do/will you ask for advice and information?

I will first request input from my constituents and follow that up with non-partisan experts in the field of that particular issue.

10. What is the one personal trait/characteristic that you want voters to know about you, and why is that important in this race?

I want voters to know that I am uncompromised by special interests. It's important because special interests are running and ruining this country and until the voters elect public servants that are committed only to the interests of the people, nothing in Washington is going to change.