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Slashdot Asks: Whom Do You Want To Ask About 2012's U.S. Elections? 343

For the next year, it will be hard to escape the political season already in full swing in the U.S., as candidates aim for the American presidency (and many other elected positions). There will be plenty of soundbites and choreographed photo-ops to go around. Candidates will read speeches from TelePrompters, and staffers will mail out policy statements calculated to inspire political fealty to one candidate or another — finding unscripted answers from most of the candidates is going to be tough. Slashdot interviews, by contrast, give you the chance to do something that interviews in more conventional media usually don't: the chance to ask the questions you'd actually like to have answered, and to see the whole answer as provided. But there's a hitch: we need to know which candidates or other figures we should attempt to track down for a Slashdot interview. So please help narrow the field, by suggesting (with as much contact information as possible, as well as your reasoning) the people you'd like to hear from. It doesn't need to be one of the candidates, either: if you know of a pollster, a campaign technical advisor, an economist (or even a politicians's webmaster, say) who should be on our list, make the case in the comments below. And if you represent or are affiliated with a particular campaign, that's fine — but please say so. We'll do our best to find a number of your favorites in the year to come.
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Slashdot Asks: Whom Do You Want To Ask About 2012's U.S. Elections?

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  • Al Franken (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:40PM (#37977434)

    I hate to be cynical and say that it doesn't really matter, since no politician is ever going to give you an honest or useful answer anyway (any written response won't even written by them, just some staffer, you know). But I will suggest one of the VERY few politicians at the top who actually seems to give a modicum of a shit about freedom, the little guy, and all that jazz. From his well-known editorial [] on why he supports net neutrality to his fight against contractors and for regulation of the financial industry, Al Franken seems to be one of the few people in Washington interested in something more than just padding his pocket.

    I would be particularly interested to hear more on the Net Neutrality issue, since he seems to be one of the only politicians, Republican or Democrat, actively supporting it.

    Yes, he is a little batshit from time to time and prone to saying some crazy shit. But in his defense, they did a LOT of coke on SNL back in the day. He's lost a few brain cells. Poor Chevy Chase is MUCH worse.

    • I would second this, but for the reason that I believe he is one of the few politicians that actually seem to follow what's going on in the world of computers and software

    • by fortapocalypse ( 1231686 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:51PM (#37977580)
      Why? Because he's good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like him.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:41PM (#37977444) Journal

    There will be plenty of soundbites and choreographed photo-ops to go around. Candidates will read speeches from TelePrompters, and staffers will mail out policy statements calculated to inspire political fealty to one candidate or another — finding unscripted answers from most of the candidates is going to be tough. Slashdot interviews, by contrast, give you the chance to do something that interviews in more conventional media usually don't: the chance to ask the questions you'd actually like to have answered, and to see the whole answer as provided.

    Oh they won't have teleprompters for a Slashdot interview? So what? Every single candidate or person working for a candidate are going to do the following:

    1. Assess Slashdot's core demographic (young white males with liberal leanings).
    2. Go to their "cheat sheets" and select the well tailored response to each topic at the appropriate slot of the political scale to garner the maximum number of votes from said demographic.
    3. Read questions, refuse those that cannot be filled with square peg or easily deflected.
    4. Spend a tiny amount of time reframing each question as the first part of the response until it is a seamless transition to the copy/paste of their advisers' maximized stock spiel or merely deflect it (hey, this isn't a debate you just have to bob and weave out of one round).

    This isn't my first rodeo. Seriously, watch a candidate's speech in BFE one-horse-town North Texas one day and then their speech in yuppie concrete jungle Manhattan the next day. They will skirt issues and spew half truths that are almost (but not quite, it's an art) in direct conflict with their message at another locality. How do you maximize votes? Why settle for those localized maxima with the same speech in two different demographics when a massive overhaul will win you the campaign? Why do you think they have teams of speech writers? If you campaigned on one consistent platform through the country, you're dead in the water. The only way to win is to lie by omission or worse.

    Oh and if you think that a webmaster of a politician is going to be allowed to answer questions in regard to that politician's campaign, you can forget it. A person with a STEM background interfacing in a Q&A for someone's campaign?! Are you daft? No no no no, nobody is going to allow that. The phrase "talking points" was made for a reason. Can you imagine that conversation? "Hey, I know I designed your website for your campaign, now I'm going on a news site to represent your campaign to potentially anybody -- I mean if I really fuck up this could be on Colbert or something. Wish me luck!"

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      This isn't my first rodeo. Seriously, watch a candidate's speech in BFE one-horse-town North Texas one day and then their speech in yuppie concrete jungle Manhattan the next day.

      And there you go The solution to the problem you present. Don't treat the Slashdot version in complete isolation, but rather see how it meshes with the rest of the speeches that the candidate gives.

    • With almost all politicians (except the ones YOU like, of course) the "message" is the message. Asking questions is useless unless you're gathering material for The Daily Show or Colbert.

      No matter how uninformed a candidate is, the fans will still be fans.

      It isn't about picking the best candidate based upon your criteria.
      It's about using your flexible criteria to justify the politician / party that you've already emotionally decided upon.

    • Interestingly, Canada's current Prime Minister campaigned with a single speech which he repeated verbatim (down to the times at which he took a sip of water during the speak) every time he gave it. He gave the exact same speech twice a day every day for over a month (and won).

      Another interesting thing that happened in the recent Ontario election, was one of the provincial engineering institutes sent a request to each party for an explanation of their policies on power generation. One party chose not to an

    • As the years go by, people still stubbornly, willfully ignore the fact that candidates' "positions" on the "issues" (two laughable notions) are not in any demonstrable way predictive of future performance. That is a fancier and somewhat more precise way of repeating the obvious: it's all bullshit. There is no way around that. The system is fully owned by mobsters wielding money-soaked lobbyists. What candidates or their handlers say or do during an election has no importance whatsoever. In case that last pa
  • Ask Diebold (Score:5, Funny)

    by Etz Haim ( 856183 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:42PM (#37977454) Homepage
    Need to explain? ;)
  • Chris Hedges.

  • Ron Paul (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel_is_Legnd ( 1447519 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:43PM (#37977470)
    I don't think he given fair representation by either side of the media and is simply labeled as radical and crazy.
    • . . . when his only fault is believing the Constitution means what it says and says what it means. He is the only candidate so far who considers our legal framework to be more valuable than toilet paper.

    • Re:Ron Paul (Score:5, Informative)

      by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:46PM (#37977508) Journal

      In all fairness, that's because he is radical and crazy.

      Which is not necessarily a bad thing, when compared to "arrogant and stupid" or "two-faced and disappointing"

    • That's because he is radical. I don't think he's crazy, but the man makes most of the rest of the Republican party look liberal by comparison. Nobody's going to vote for him for the same reason no one will vote for Dennis Kucinich. Too far from the center.

      • Personally I don't consider his polling at 12% in the early states as "nobody". He's only far from center because of how insane our contemporary center is. I suspect we could use a little more respect for the Constitution and a little more respect for our individual rights as human beings.
    • He isn't treaded fair by the media.
      He won a straw poll - no coverage. Another candidate get coverage for a second place. WTF?
      He appears to have consistent principled integrity as Jon Stewart already mentioned. He speaks the same for 30 years and nobody was listening.

      I admit the more I read from him the more I think I understand his point of view. And it makes sense all though it is not comfortable.
      I also know: He is the only veteran within the presidential candidates and will bring the troops home.
      Ron Paul

  • by SIR_Taco ( 467460 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:45PM (#37977502) Homepage

    Yes... RMS.... just for 'shits-and-giggles'

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:47PM (#37977516)

    an economist

    An economist you say?

    How about Ben Jones []

    An how about Tyler Durden (A pseudonym, duh, but I think it would be hilarious to see the ZH response to our questions) []

    Last but not least, George Ure, who is about 20% genius, 60% eh, and 20% nuts? []

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      An economist? Economics is about as scientific as phrenology. There isn't an economist alive that you can't find another economist who will call the first a gold studded liar.

      Look what happened when we put an MBA in the White House. I'm sure you need quite a few economics classes to get an MBA.

    • My personal favorites are
      Barry Ritholz []
      David Merkel []
      Though one might argue that they are more so stock traders than pure economists.
  • Why do politicians always write in exemptions for themselves when it comes to legislation banning telemarketing? Do any of you twits realize how annoying incessant Robocalls are?

    • Do any of you twits realize how annoying incessant Robocalls are?

      Of course they don't. They have their staff and help screen calls. Why don't you do that?

  • by jimwelch ( 309748 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .kohclewmij.> on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:48PM (#37977542) Homepage Journal
    A web site like CMS matrix (use to be) where there is a table of *ALL* issues and responses that I can compare against each other and "my views"
  • The man knows all and sees all and sh*t my Dad says ran too short.
    • Boston Legal was far better, Billy as a cigar smoking, booze drinking, gun toting, criminal creep shooting, mad-cow conservative lawyer ... made me strongly identify him as understanding US Citizens better than any C*O, politician, clergy, or Canadian (I have heard he is Jewish). I keep hoping he will return for one last big case on Harry's Law (may the large complicated case could last for a season).

      Billy was always Captain Kirk to US, until Denny Crane!

  • Andrew Tanenbaum (Score:5, Informative)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:51PM (#37977582) Homepage

    Not only does Andrew Tanenbaum have a good handle on polls and vote-projection [], but his nerd credentials are excellent [].

  • by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:52PM (#37977596) Journal

    Given Slashdot's predilections, it is certain that the ones Slashdot likes the most will be the least likely to get elected.

    So, come join us on Slashdot to see who WON'T be the next president!

    Let us whine together about how awful and broken the system is!
    Let us propose reforms to the election system that will never be implemented!
    Let us ask obscure technical questions of candidates to the highest office in the land!

    Yes, I have been here during elections before.

    In b4 Ron Paul

  • Ron Paul? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:55PM (#37977630)
    Ron Paul... duh... and I'm pretty sure he'll do it to. I think his answers to slashdot questions would be very interesting indeed. I doubt any other candidate would come near this site with a 1000ft pole.
  • Rebecca Mercury (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cheros ( 223479 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:55PM (#37977632)

    Why not ask Rebecca Mercuri []? She is a voting expert, and if indications are correct, the last couple of voting exercises were not exactly as clean as they were supposed to have been.

    You can ask politicians whatever you want, I would suggest you become more interested in assuring that your vote actually goes where it is supposed to go.

  • Ask the askers.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jasno ( 124830 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @04:56PM (#37977638) Journal

    Get a journalist from a major network and ask them why the fuck they let politicians off the hook when they give non-answers to direct questions in interviews and debates.

    • by eepok ( 545733 )

      I'll agree with choosing Al Franken because the guy's intelligent and doesn't seem to pull punches (comedian's instinct).

      I'd say yes to Ron Paul because he's so unelectable that he may even respond to the Slashdot request out of desperation.

      But this one... this one above all, I want to see the most. Our political system receives 100% from the concept of the will of The People. The People are not capable of (nor have they the time) holding conversations with the candidates of the political races affecting th

  • by cinnamon colbert ( 732724 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:01PM (#37977704) Journal
    The debates, an hour or two in total length, are the only time the citizenry get to question the candidates directly Yet the time alloted to people to ask questions is so short, no intelligent question can be asked. further, the audience is discouraged from reacting, and the questioner cannot interrupt when the candidates don't answer the question I would like to see one 3-4 hour debate per week, where it is almost open mike - people get three minutes to talk, and they can harangue the candidates, interrupt them, ask serious questions etc would need tape delay to remove the ***k words, and editing to take out the tedium, but we might get something worth watching
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      That would be 3-4 tedious hours of "legalize weed" "9-11 conspiracy" "can we pass an amendment to remove the separation of church and state"

  • by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:02PM (#37977720) Homepage

    Obama's rhetoric on civil liberties during the 2008 campaign was spot on. Given how horrible his actual civil liberties track record has been - "Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States" is how Jonathan Turley described him in a recent LA Times opo-ed [] - I'd like to hear him or one of his spokespeople try to defend his record on this matter.

    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      I wondered about that too. He's back off so much from what everyone who voted for him thought he stood for. Not that I'm going to go vote for his opponents (who stand for the opposite), but I'm certainly less enthused about voting.

      So, Seconded.
    • Given that the civil liberties you speak about really comes from the legislative branch of Government and not the Executive (as laid out in the Constitution), and given that Republican's absolute disdain for Obama and their totally, historically unprecedented use of tactics in the Senate to stop any governance or legislation. I think we can give Obama a pass on this. You should define what you think Obama could do given the intransigence and morally and ethically reprehensible behavior towards their sworn

      • by Raul654 ( 453029 )

        "Given that the civil liberties you speak about really comes from the legislative branch of Government and not the Executive" - that's wrong both philosophically and realistically. In the philosophy of law, civil liberties originate in natural law and are codified in the Constitution. That's the essential difference between a right and a privilege - a privilege can be revoked, a right cannot. It is your right not to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process, and the Constition says as mu

      • ... republicans in the Congress to overrule his veto?

        Or did he go to great extents to sign its extension (via that fancy robotic arm).

        I second the notion, I would love to see Obama defend his flip-flopping on, hey, almost anything. I would prefer him to debate my preferred guy (obvious from my signature) on live TV, would be great! ;-)

        Paul B.

  • NOT elections (Score:5, Informative)

    by rcamans ( 252182 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:03PM (#37977740)

    Elections are where free people can choose who they want in public office.
    In America, the government, corporations, institutions, organizations, and political parties choose what rich stupid b*stard gets to be put in front of you to get "voted" into office.
    You do not have a choice. Whatever party you vote in, you will still get scr*wed by a lying, cheating, bribed b*stard. You get the same sh*t. Just different public "statements, promises, and claims"
    If we were electing someone to represent our interests in government, they would be representing our interests. Instead, they are representing the interests of lobbyists, PACs, special interest groups, corporations, institutions, and the rich and famous in general.
    Is it in our interest to have Obama spend 200,000,000+ on a flight vacation to Hawaii while joblessness is above 9%? I do not think so. How many jobs has Obama created? 1, for Michelle's brother, the basketball coach in Oregon.
    Tell me again how anyone, Democrat or republican, got anything they voted for.

    • by gknoy ( 899301 )

      You're allowed to write "bastard", "screwed", and "shit" on Slashdot. If you're writing the word, and we all know what it is even with a starred vowel, why do you pseudo-censor it?

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      Whatever party you vote in, you will still get scr*wed by a lying, cheating, bribed b*stard. You get the same sh*t. Just different public "statements, promises, and claims"

      I find that annoying. Just say "Whatever party you vote in, you will still get screwed by a lying, cheating, bribed bastard. You get the same shit. Just different public 'statements, promises, and claims" and be done with it. If you're going ti use harsh language, use harsh language. If you're afraid of offending, don't use that language

    • Is it in our interest to have Obama spend 200,000,000+ on a flight vacation to Hawaii while joblessness is above 9%?

      Really? $200M? Who told you this and is it in YOUR interests to swallow such an obvious distortion of the truth? Have you ever asked yourself why someone would broadcast this kind of propaganda, or do you simply accept what the media tells you without questioning the claims and motives of the speaker?

      Disclaimer: I don't have a dog in your political fight, but 10,000 miles of ocean air is not enough to dissipate the nauseating smell bullshit from your media.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:04PM (#37977760) Journal
    we ask all of them, when they will put America first instead of their pocket book? And that needs to be asked of all of them, including O.
  • Retired politicians/pundits/... with no stakes in the game anymore are by far the most entertaining and interesting. Plus they want to get rid of stuff they've had on their chest for a while, ie all the lies and stupidities they've ha to spout to please their electoral bases.

  • Mitch Bainwol and Chris Dodd.

  • Everyone holds bias, but someone who isn't dependent on votes in the near future would be less bound by his/her desire to maintain public image while still possessing the insider experience to give us an insightful appraisal.

    Perhaps former officials of the US Cabinet.

  • Nate Silver, the man behind [] He does analysis on multiple topics and has been pretty accurate historically. The questions that he can answer can probably be a lot more geeky than those that could be asked of others, and are also the types of questions that are less likely to get bullshit responses. I also think he's the type of person who would probably be willing to answer Slashdot questions so there's that to be said as well.
  • My questions:

    1. Can the Education Department produce and maintain a BS-free "Open Course Content" (Open eBooks, Open teaching materials, randomized test content ...) curriculum for grades K...12 that are comparable to any extremely highly ranked private school? No don't force the states to use the curriculum, eventually state education budget cuts will require the Open and Free curriculum to reduce education cost. Yes, education infrastructure will still be failing nationally, but some bills the states s

    • Why would you want to compare anything to a private school? Statistically, grade wise, they are actually doing worse by a tiny margin over public schools.

  • If anyone is interested, I can get someone on the Libertarian National Committee (LNC []) or the Libertarian National Campaign Committee (LNCC []) to answer questions. The Libertarian Party is the largest third and fastest growing party in the US (as confirmed by Wikipedia!) and I know that many ./ers tend to lean small-L libertarian.

    Disclaimer: I am the Region 2 alternate member of the LNC, and Chair of the Massachusetts Libertarian Party [].

    • by deblau ( 68023 )

      Sorry for the self-reply. I wanted to say that as a member of the LNC, I have pretty good access to any of the elected or candidate Libertarians across the country, including Presidential candidates.

      Also, I'd recommend Ron Rivest [] as a non-candidate expert on voting. (Yes, the "R" in "RSA".) He's a really down-to-earth guy who I think would be really approachable, and he has done work that addresses electoral fraud (including inventing a new voting system).

  • Our culture celebrates assholes, just as it celebrates talking heads. We've replaced real news and fact, opinions and jag-off talking heads. Listening to our opinion producers causes you to know less, not more.

    Instead, I'll tell you who I don't want to ask: Any politician. Anyone who is regularly on television. Anyone who can't footnote their answers.

  • Elizabeth Warren (Score:4, Informative)

    by tkr ( 87256 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:31PM (#37978158)

    Sixty-two year old babe running for Senate from Massachusetts. Straight shooter, smarter than me and probably you, too. Also tough as nails. If you like Senator Franken, you will like future Senator Warren.

  • Sarah Palin (Score:4, Funny)

    by Codeyman ( 1098807 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @05:33PM (#37978186) Homepage
    Given that Republicans don't have clear front runner, chances that Obama will continue as a president is highly probable.. By inviting Sarah Palin we can at least get some LOLs.. (and may be some material for SNL skits)
  • He did such a good job of analyzing the 2008 election, I would like a good Slashdot interview of him to discuss his methodologies and what challenges he has when performing political analysis... as well as how the NY Times buy-out of his blog has affected what he publishes.

  • Let's have a Slashdot roundtable. Get together Richard Posner, Paul Krugman, Greg Mankiw, Tyler Cowen, Lawrence Lessig, and some smart econ/political geeks, and let's talk turkey about economic policy, politics, and how technology interacts with these forces. (I'd really love to get a luminary on education in there, but I'm not sure who the good choices would be.)

  • Rick Perry said it best. "You get to ask the questions, and I get to answer how I want to." Who are we kidding? The candidates WILL NOT ANSWER your questions. Yeah, maybe you can get the webmaster to talk, but how much value is this really?

  • by Bemopolis ( 698691 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @06:07PM (#37978658)

    Slashdot Asks: Whom Do You Want To Ask About 2012's U.S. Elections?

    Regardless of outcome, a fucking grief counselor.

  • by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @07:01PM (#37979200) Homepage Journal

    This is the most powerful UNELECTED man in Federal Government. Because a large number of the GOP have signed his pledge to NEVER raise taxes, the GOP has scuttled or stalled every proposal to get this nation back on it's feet.

    So my question is for Grover. And my question is this: "What gives you the fucking right? Nobody in America cast even one vote for your sorry ass, and yet you are dictating policy more than any elected official, even the goddam president. Do you really think you represent everyone in America? Do you even realize how much damage you are causing to our poilitcal system? Do you realize that YOU created the gridlock that ultimately lowered America's credit rating? And that further gridlock will ultimately cause this nation's downfall?"


  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday November 07, 2011 @08:26PM (#37980018) Homepage Journal
    Do we have anyone but ourselves to blame for the sad state of affairs? In recent years we've been happy to allow only thirty to forty percent of the country dictate the course of the nation. Most of the time we re-elect the incumbent. Emboldened by the disinterest of the American people, the politicians have quietly and happily been whoring themselves out to the highest bidder, taking billions of dollars in campaign donations collectively and stacking the decks in the favor of their rich friends. Your Congressman tells you there's no way for you to have affordable health care, while he has the finest money can buy. Your congressman tells you that you have no one but yourself to blame for your unemployment, while happily taking another cost of living increase to his six digit salary. Your congressman tells you that when you retired and the corporations have sucked you dry, that you are a burden to society and that we can no longer afford to suffer your existence. Meanwhile they have stood by, idle, while the bankers and corporate executives have literally plundered the country's future, and took no one to task for it.

    And why should they care? Their jobs are up for review only every few years. No one is there to take them to task for attendance or participation. It is unlikely that we will remember their transgressions in the next election season, even if enough people cared to turn out to begin with. These people are your employees. Are you happy with the job your employees are doing? Are they working on your behalf?

    So, American People, are you going to continue to put up with this behavior? Are you going to sit idly by on election day and let your chance to make your voice heard? I propose to you that in 2012, we, The American People, tell the current political parties in no uncertain terms that their behavior will no longer be tolerated. I propose we do this by un-electing every single office that comes up for re-election, and that we vote for third parties whenever possible in those elections. And I propose that we continue to do this until we have some people in there who want to put the welfare of the American People in front of the corporations who want to suck us dry. It is, after all, the American People who hire and fire politicians, not corporate interest groups, not the Koch Brothers, not the think tanks in Washington. Us.

    So, what do you say, American People? Political blood bath on election day? Or are you happy with Business as Usual?

  • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Tuesday November 08, 2011 @03:03AM (#37982624) Homepage Journal
    He runs [] and also wrote a textbook on operating systems that many of us read as undergrads.

This login session: $13.76, but for you $11.88.