Elections '08 Media Presidential Race

Real World Questions, Please


In yesterday’s New York Times Elizabeth Edwards
slapped the media upside the head for its repeated dwelling on trivia, both now and last year when the Democrats were still in the midst of a multi-candidate race.

This morning’s LA Times wants SOMEONE…ANYONE in the media
to ask the candidates less about flag pins,” bitterness,” and “geriatric radicals,” and more about actual….you know…. issues. Helpfully, the Times lists some sample questions, among them the following:

You have criticized President Bush’s expansion of executive power.
Detail for us how you intend to legally forbid yourself — and your successors — from using signing statements to alter legislation. Don’t tell us that your judgment will be better than Bush’s, so not to worry. Give us specifics.

How exactly would you ensure that no American citizen can be declared an “enemy combatant”? Explain what you believe a president ought and ought not to be able to do with a foreigner captured abroad and suspected of having plans to kill Americans.

Describe a situation in which you would defend the president’s asserted power to monitor telephone conversations and e-mails of U.S. citizens without a warrant

I’d also like to hear what suggestions all three candidates have for curing
the nation’s hideous urban school drop out rates.

In addition, it might be nice to hear if they have any constructive thoughts on the spreading world food crisis that is now called the worst in a generation.

And what about the fact that one in every nine
African American men between 20 and 34 is behinds bars? I’d prefer to hear those who might be president give a few words over to that troubling issue rather than hearing one more thing about somebody’s pastor (or sniper fire, or possibly purloined favorite recipes, for that matter.)

And now that we’re on the subject, when a bunch of editors and writers were sitting around
at the LA Times book fair, talking about life, books, and the NEA (among other things) it was mentioned that we we wouldn’t mind knowing who each of the candidates would be likely to appoint as their arts advisers. (No. Issue-wise this is not exactly as pressing as the Iraq War, the nose-diving economy, global warming, or health care, but the answer would be, in its own way, telling nonetheless. And it has a hell of a lot more to do with the emotional/moral/spiritual health of the nation than freaking flag pins.)

What would you like to ask?


  • Maybe I want to know about flag pins. Actually, any question is a good question if it’s important to a significant number of voters, whether you think it’s important or not. They find meaning in its answer. At least you should have the courtesy of putting an “X” over the question rather than an image of our flag itself.

    Arts adviser? I wouldn’t have one and I wouldn’t give a dime of taxpayer money to the NEA. That debate ended with me long ago after taxpayers were forced to pay for the immersion of a crucifix in a jar of urine.

    What would I ask? I want details on candidates’ plans about global warming–such as taxes, restrictions, limits on consumption, money diverted from other needs…. Voters need to know much these politicians are willing to hurt our economy, useful research, jobs, and finances of families just to pander to a bunch of left-wing, so-called environmentalists who jumped on a runaway bandwagon taking our nation over a cliff pulled by a team of liars and phonies. If the Democrats are so proud of Al Gore and this cause, they should be right up front waving the issue–and, its costs.

  • I would have loved to have been at the UCLA/Westwood festival and maybe pick up a couple of books. However, due to “Reagan economics” and the Republican’s continued legency of providing shitty donkey presidents, I have resorted to staying home and saving vehicle gas.
    I dont know if any one here has looked around or talked to people lately, but “BIG ONE” is coming.

  • Hard to argue with you, Celeste. The tough questions just aren’t being asked. I think you’ve suggested some great topics that should be put to the candidates. I especially agree about taking these candidates to task on the high drop out rates within our high schools. Your “Got Graduation?…” post & links from early April was staggering. Being assigned to a campaign project in Detroit, I can sadly testify that the seeds of the city’s future misery have already been planted. Here’s a great review by Jack Lessenberry covering one brave organization trying to do the impossible:


    Questions I’d like to ask: Doesn’t the U.S. need a new set of economic indicators to judge the overall health of our economy? Isn’t the GDP bean-counting insufficient? Does the U.S. economy HAVE to expand/grow? Isn’t a consumption based economy at odds with and endangering the environment? Just some thoughts…

  • I encourage the existence of alligators on golf courses. Golf courses – especially public ones – are a piss-poor use of land and in the western part of the country a waste of water: all for a good walk spoiled in the words of Mark Twain.

  • The course I use claims to rely soley on recycled water. Don’t know what that means exactly, but it makes me feel better. We’re also a pretty “wet” climate. I think this is a regional issue. I mean, the water and land use…not alligators. Well, maybe alligators as well. One thing I like about it is it’s not “elitist” at all. Except for the alligator exclusion clause.

  • Rob – when we’ve got two candidates – predictably the “seasoned” Beltway denizens most desperate for the “Joe” vote – pandering in extremis on the gasoline tax, I’m afraid your question set isn’t going to get asked. I’m very pissed that the corn ethanol counterproductivity thing isn’t getting raised – Obama of agri-Illinois is an equal opportunity offender on that one, of course. The global crisis of grain prices – increasingly looking like one of those “perfect storm” confluences of bad decisions – is real and starvation is increasing dramatically. Among other things related to this, I wish one of the candidates had the guts to take on the utterly indefensible sugar ethanol tariffs as part of this energy/food disaster that we’re increasingly succumbing to. This is a combination national security/domestic economic/global humanitarian and equity issue. I don’t expect McCain or Hillary to give a shit – certainly not in light of this disgusting gas tax pandering and their record of opportunism – but Obama should rise to the occasion. I think he could score points and move off defense in the face of picayune bullshit, be percieved as the statesman and, at the worst, keep it a wash in terms of votes lost/gained.

  • There’s periodic drought – but now way is the Bay Area a drain on the state’s water supply like our SoCal friends. I probably shouldn’t say this but I just spent a couple of days in LA on business – something I’d managed to avoid for several years – and I couldn’t imagine living there. And somebody needs to tell the Biltmore management to put in some goddam wifi. It’s 2008 ! Don’t call your hotel “Millenium” if you’re still stuck in the last one. What a pit! The Holiday Inn I had to suffer in Maumee Ohio was better managed.

  • Downtown is dead…although I don’t remember it ever being otherwise…although everybody I spoke with talkied about it coming back…like maybe in a couple of years, given the economy. When they weren’t talking about whether or not to take the streets or the freeways. There also seemed to be some awareness that maybe a “not insane” urban environoment should have a modern mass transit system. Who knew ? Frankly, I was too busy to give the town much of a chance, so I’m just venting at being stuck in a hotel with archaic attitude and not a hell of a lot else. (I’m not big on crawling under a tiny desk to plug in unmarked cable lying loose behind the telephone so I can connect to the internet these days. So I didn’t bother.) And the day I had to spend in Beverly Hills was truly painful to my tender sensibilities.

  • Actually, Woody, I was a caddie when I was a kid…and it didn’t engender much love for the stereotypical businessmen I mostly worked for. Might well have been the roots of my donning that Che Guevara teeshirt that’s caused such a commotion here.

  • Here’s grist for a “real world question” about what we’ve been spending blood and treasure for in Iraq over five long years…


    (Read the whole story, but in essence McClatchy news service suggests “the most powerful man in Iraq” is an Iranian general who, among other things, has slipped into the Green Zone to negotiate with Iraqi politicians over the choice of their prime minister. I would phrase this real world question, “WTF?” Or perhaps, “Were Bush/Cheney/McCain, et al. out of their minds when they hatched this scheme ?”)

  • Hilariously pitiful reading reg’s recent insights gleaned from staying downtown at the Biltmore recently — alive only when it has grand events in the ballroom. Downtown hasn’t been “alive” since Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks co-founded the Athletic Club across the street from the Biltmore; too bad reg couldn’t make it over there. Not only WiFi but an Olympic sized pool where Buster trained for the Olympics back in the day. More likely reg made it across the street to Pershing Square, haunt of the homeless. (With a subway stop — you could have actually gotten on and gone all the way to Hollywood to catch the art in the stations; but no, enough to make some snarky and utterly ignorant comments about some future subway system.

    Actually, there’s a lot of life around Little Tokyo/ the MOCA temp, but reg was too busy whining about WiFi. And calling Bev Hills “painful to my tender sensibilities,” must have been mutual. — Next time, wander over to Celeste’s part of town, like the Topganga crowd; bohemian never went out of fashion there.

    Keep your insights about L A coming, reg. Like listening to Sylvester Stallone describing trying to dance Swan Lake.

    As for golf, and its being so anachronistic in the west: the lowest-altitude golf course in America is in Death Valley, and truly a novel winter experience. L A is balmy compared to Palm Springs area resorts, and they’re not all “green.” Locally, Cheviott Hills, Studio City and Griffith Park are excellent values in public courses — you socialists should appreciate these places as an alternative to the exclusive Rivieras. Nothing like them in the east.

    As for reg’s newsflash about Iran: the country trained (back in 82) and has funded ever since the party which controls the southern half of Iraq, based in Basra — which in turn controls the oil. I don’t think this is the first time an Iranian has been involved in Iraqi power politics.

  • WBC – I don’t know how to tell you this, but LA isn’t a destination that many people who’ve actually been anywhere and have a modicum of taste hold in high regard. Most major cities have vast problems, but compared to NYC, Chicago, or even DC it’s a pretty poor excuse for an urban environment. So don’t bore me with your lists and “history.” On Iran, these are hardly “newsflashes” for me – I’ve been makiing the observation that Iran was the big winner of the Iraq war back when folks like you were marveling at the wondrous leadership of George Bush in toppling Saddam Hussein in a matter of weeks. You’re typically behind the curve – repeating crackpot neocon talking points – and far too reminiscent in your obsessions of the clowns who lampooned me years ago when I raised the issue of Iranian hegemony in Iraqi politics as the key to the “new” Iraq. Now even halfwits are able to grasp this stuff, apparently. Go lecture someone who gives a shit what you think.

  • Incidentally, can you read with any comprehension at all ? I said, specfically, that downtown had always been dead in my memory and you proceed to “inform” me – in a typically telling and unattractive bout of bogus condesencion – that it’s always been dead – at least since the ’20s ! Makes you sound rather stupid. Who knew ? And if you’re under the impression that LA has an effective rapid transit system (a bit over 2/3 the riders, including light rail, that BART alone has in a metro area with a much smaller population) and didn’t get started absurdly late in planning for such, you’re a minority of one.

  • reg, thanks for digging yourself in deeper. First of all, you don’t have “a modicum of taste,” nor have you “actually been anywhere,” except maybe the few cities you name and your hometown of Oakland. Now, if you really want a laugh… PUHleeze, I’m from the east and lived in NYC, travel there often and belong to the kinds of private clubs you couldn’t get into, also in D. C. — let’s not go there. And you’ve expressed utmost contempt for world travel, now it’s suddenly paramount, when you’re aiming for an adolescent “let me show you how superior I am because I put down L A., which I don’t know.” Maybe you want to quote Dorothy Parker, about “how there’s no there, there,” or F. Scott Fitzgerald, any number of east coasters who failed here… NO ONE CARES, but STFU about a city you don’t know.

    And you were foretelling the present in Iraq when “Folks like you (meaning me?) were marveling at the wondrous leadership of George Bush in toppling Saddam Hussein in a matter of weeks YOu’re typically behind the curve…” MORE pitious babble from a smug fool who’s never even been to the Middle East. I traveled the region and met with both emigre Americans and upper echelons of Egyptian/Jordanian/Israeli society right after the First Gulf War, and as someone whose history extends beyond what they read in leftist propaganda rags, I was more fully aware than an old leftist like you, could ever understand about tribal & religious nuances… I’ve actually never encountered anyone as smug and narrow as you, and this “you people” crap and shit about a city you’re too provincial to understand beyond second-hand prejudice, cements it… With you haunting this blog endlessly, no wonder no one with anything to say about “Witnessing L A” ever bothers to turn up here. Clearly, I overestimated you when I said that your opining on L A was like Stallone recounting his attempts to dance Swan Lake. MORE clueless and pitiful… But KEEP GOING, keep digging yourself down.

  • BTW, besides the exp. in Mid-east after Gulf War I, I was in the west bank the week after the Palestinian authority rec’d authority in 94, and for the first time, Palestinian flags went up, and there was hope on both sides, after Madrid, and then again right after Sharon’s mistaken march onto Temple Mount, along with privately arranged visits in Egypt accompanied by Egyptian military security convoys, to places like Dendara with a movie crew… stuff I’m not going to go into because it’s for my personal work and I want to avoid being haunted precisely by people like you — whose endless rants and babblings are as relevant as Stallone’s ballets. — NONE of which I care to share with you, but get OFF this blog about L A., you smug geriatric adolescent. At least Woody knows he knows nothing about L A., just HIS prejudice.

  • “you’ve expressed utmost contempt for world travel”

    No, that contempt had nothing to do with “world travel” – it was for your going on at embarrassing length about yourself. Again, limited comprehension skills.

  • Hmmmmm, at the risk of stepping into this, there’s a lot going on in downtown LA these days—during the daytime and at night. It still has a long way to go (and I wouldn’t dream of getting into the complicated gentrification fight that’s ongoing regarding the various revivification efforts in the works), but I love downtown LA. It’s not dead at all anymore.

    WBC, now that you mention it, I’ve stayed at the LA Athletic Club two or three times in the past few years when I’ve needed to stay downtown because of a four or five day conference, and I have to admit I was totally into the place. It’s so terrifically retro, and the gym has this very cool little indoor running track with machines and weights in the middle. I’m quite the happy grrrll when I’m there—AND you can buy cheap but fabulous wholesale strands of unstrung fresh water pearls right around the corner. What’s not to like?

  • Unfortunately I got planted by a client in the allegedly first-class Biltmore and it’s a substandard hotel, which is kind of shocking to an out-of-towner who’s, first and foremost, looking for amenities at least at the level of, say, Holiday Inn. As I said, no WiFi, which I found bizarre, cramped room, had to call several times to even reach the front desk, misinformation on valet parking from the staff, signage that led to dead ends, and a TV that looked like those currently found in nursing homes with a remote that didn’t work! Also leak in the bathroom. Total pit billed as “The Millenium.” Attractive retro bar and lower gallery, but who cares at that point. Admittedly I was too tired from several days of prior travel to go out of my way to find a nice place to kick back, but compared to Chicago or New York, the central downtown area seemed remarkably dead and depressing after…uh…6. Granted LA has some great cultural stuff and nice enclaves and there seems to be a move to revive the center, but the overall urban experience is far from attractive or coherent. I’m pretty sure you guys who live there know this better than the rest of us, because I heard an awful lot of bitching about basics from the denizens I spent time with.

  • I don’t have anything specifically against LA. I love parts of it and have enjoyed passing time at places like Olvera Street.

    I do believe, however, that the best cities are ones that were already well established before the advent of the automobile: New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, etc.

  • No one from the westside goes downtown unless they work there, so looking for nightlife there, comparing it to nightlife in downtown NYC or Chicago, is pointless. EXCEPTIONS being around MOCA/ MOCA temp/ Little Tokyo… They’ve got plans afoot for doing that and have upscale lofts/ condos there now, but when a Ralph’s market opened there recently it was a big event, so that tells ya. Financial downturn means that the Grand Ave plans are delayed, and royal family of Dubai has stepped in to take over part of it — this is worth mentioning because the CRA is allegedly passing on to the new investors the tens of millions in development funds, which doesn’t sit well with some. — Then Councilman Huizar wants to turn Broadway into a NYC-style real “Broadway,” but right now it’s a low-rent Hispanic flea market and many feel he’s wasting more funds.

    The L A Athletic Club was deserted for years, and is still more frequented by folks from Glendale/ Pasadena than the Westside — who go to trendy beach clubs or work out at star- studded places like SportsClub/LA and Beverly Hills. But LAAC’s retro feel is being rediscovered by young pro’s, who’ve never known that kind of woodsy club, that’s common in Boston and NYC. Which is great — it used to be full of fat, sweaty leering old guys who’d gross out more attractive women trying to work out. Squash is really popular.

    (Randy, it’s affiliated with the NY Athletic Club, which still doesn’t admit women, and is more like the dumb British clubs where we gals — even Dame Thatcher — are limited to a main dining hall or tea room. But LAAC is co-ed and “the most diverse club in the country,” which has gotten it/ us dropped from some places in the south that Woody would know, and good riddance, but it WAS fun mingling with the snobby-silly blue-haired ladies who rule those places. But you can visit the top clubs in Tokyo and Honk Kong, e.g.)

    Best part, for a little extra you can join the Marina Del Rey Yacht Club (Randy, NYC’s downtown Yacht Club is great for entertaining, ever go?) and golf/ dine at the Riviera, whose membership fee is otherwise like $50 grand…And yeah, like Celeste says, it’s next to jewelry district, fashion sample discounters, and the flower and seafood marts are way fun and great for downtown insomniacs. It IS available as a hotel, much cheaper than the Biltmore, and you get the full gym facilities and casual English pub option.

    OKAY, that’s my downtown promo — but it’s still a “secret” from westsiders who consider driving there akin to going to Brooklyn from midtown. It takes at least 6 mos. to “know” L A because it ISN’T about downtown at all. Next time, reg, get to Santa Monica/ up the coast towards and past Malibu: funky little seafood shacks like Malibu Inn, and biker bars like Neptune’s Joint take you away from the Prada/ Armani world which offend your sensibilities and, no doubt, wallet. You might even try surfing and forget about WiFi for an hour.

    Funny, the city’s better known to “hipsters” from Europe to Japan (where Melrose, La Brea and SilverLake are shopping/ style destinations), whereas the weight-challenged ladies from the midwest, only want to go to Beverly Hills and “Hollywood Boulevard.”

  • OK, I was being nice to a senior infant who was making the sorts of comments about L A that only smug, untraveled provincials make… Do us a favor and DON’T come back, stay in fabulous Oakland. Whose only nice spot is Merritt Lake. Nerdy nebbishes belong in Woody Allen-neurosis land — whining about the stuff you do, “sensibilities” fearing golf and surf and Beverly Hills, LOL.

  • I remember years back, having dinner with Sharon and his old military friends (ex and active-massad homies) talking about world politics – he asked about growing up Mexican in LA and how was the nightlife….
    Aside from all the crack heads, mentals, and heroin addicts, I mentioned Sam’s Hofbrau, the Play Pen, and The Score. He’s eyes got really big….with gave a smile from cheek to cheek. I loved that guy.

  • On other note, he really was adamant to find out and research how in the hell did the Mexican Mariachi Happy Birthday song get the lyrics with King David’s story in it.

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