SCRAMBLING FOR PRESIDENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Scramble

I really hate it when everyone starts to yell at each other. It’s like a big family squabble on Thanksgiving — the kind you see in the movies about what’s wrong with the holiday — and I can’t hear a thing. Maybe there was a time when I could pick individual statements from a mad clatter of voices, but if there was such a time (and I’m not sure there ever was), it has long since passed.

Overall, having spent two days watching both debates, I have reached a number of conclusions.

The first one is that this was an awful presentation, poorly thought out. It allowed almost no one to say anything clearly without interruption and was often a literal scrambling of candidates to get a word in edgewise or any other way.

Also, those who show the least likelihood of becoming a viable candidate (and you know who you are) should run for a different office. Senate, if possible because as much as we need a new President, we desperately need at the very least an evenly divided Senate. If your state has no available senate seat, how about Governor, or Mayor of the largest city that needs a mayor?

These are important offices too. They have a lot of clout. We can only have one president, but if the candidates spread out and get elected to the Senate, Congress, Governorship, Mayors races, we will have power in many different places and that would be a good thing.

Democratic debate – the second night

I was surprised at the intelligence of most of the candidates. To be fair, Trump has set the bar so low, it isn’t hard to step over it.

I love Elizabeth Warren, but I loved her before she took the stage. She is our Senator and I’m proud at how well she stands up for us. That Trump is always trying to cut her down to size is as far as I’m concerned, in her favor. If he weren’t pissed off, I’d have to assume she lacked sufficient status to earn his wrath.

First debate night

It is a sad commentary, isn’t it? We take the negative comments of our so-called president as compliments and relish them. If he hasn’t made up a fake name for you, you don’t really count.

Julian Castro surprised me. He was intelligent, clear, and collected. He was a good speaker — especially given the clawing and scratching the format required of all the candidates.

Beto O’Rourke seemed lost. On Colbert, Chris Christie commented (I hate agreeing with him) that he was like the kid who didn’t do his homework and hoped the teacher wouldn’t call on him. Oops. While he wasn’t a total embarrassment, he didn’t shine.

I understand that this was basically a 4-hour “say hi to the audience and say a few words” introduction, but it wasn’t well done. Aside from the multiple technical gaffs (shame on you, NBC), four hours was not enough time to even properly introduce each candidate. Not even enough time for each of them to have five minutes to speak on his or her own behalf — UNINTERRUPTED.

Returning now to Kamala Harris and Joe Biden. Okay, so she was the second little black kid to be bused in California. What Biden never got to say, but which is the truth — and Garry has a couple of Emmys for covering this event in Boston — busing didn’t work. However well-intentioned it was, it did not succeed for black or white students.

Biden was against it and he was RIGHT. She got picked as one of the first children in that fight, but it was a bad fight. It was a losing fight for everyone. He never got to explain his opposition and she was busy being an effective prosecutor.

Do we need another prosecutor running the country? She might make a good U.S. Attorney General, but president? It’s not just about getting your best and most memorable jab in. That’s what we currently have. We need something better, more thoughtful, reasoned, and less single-issued.

What impressed me? That for the most part, everyone agreed on most of what I think are the important issues. From health care to treating immigrants like human beings to making sure that “regular people” can earn enough money working one job to support themselves and their family. There was minimal disagreement on the basics. I thought it was a pity we couldn’t run a bunch of them as a group.

Democratic presidential candidates from left, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney participate in a Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Wednesday, June 26, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Personally, I agree a combination of private and public health care works well in many countries. Once health insurers are required to compete with a vital public sector, it’s amazing how effective they can be and how quickly their attitudes change.

About half the “nominees” need to find other places to run for office. Of the remaining half, we need sensible debates where people can say something. Asking any candidate for office to sum up anything in a one or two-word answer is ridiculous. It was stupid from the get-go. The debates suffered and we (the audience) suffered.

The moderators kept promising they would get back to individuals, but they never did. These should have been spread out over at least four night, not two. It was unfair to everyone, especially me.

And for heaven’s sake, whoever does the next debates, get your best technical people on the job. Our college radio station did better work than NBC!

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE HAPPY TO GET A PHONE CALL? – Marilyn Armstrong

“Holy shit,” I said to no one at all. “That really HURTS.”

I was referring to my back and left hip (aka “the good one”). It was early. Although morning often is accompanied by stiffness and pain, I don’t normally wake up with quite such a jolt.

Rolling slowly out of bed, I tried to remember what I’d been dreaming about. Something about cats made of smoke and a clothesline that was part of a computer game. And a shrink who offered to scratch my back, but couldn’t find the right spot.

I took a couple of Tylenol and a muscle relaxant. I rearranged the bed and tucked myself in for a few more hours of sleep.

The phone rang. Of course.

I looked at the caller ID. It showed a local number. It was not a local call. Scamming technology shows local numbers on my Caller ID including my own number. I’m pretty sure I’m not calling myself.

I answered the phone in what has become my typical surly morning greeting: “Who are you and what do you want?” There was no response. A bit of crackle on the line, but no voice. Not even a recording. I hung up. More accurately, pressed the OFF key.

It has been a long time since I expected a ringing telephone to herald a call from a friend. I don’t even expect it to be a return call from someone with whom I do business. I expect all calls to be scams, surveys, or sales pitches.

All the calls I get are recorded messages. I can’t even insult the caller or his company. That used to be the only positive side to these endless calls from anonymous people. Even that small pleasure is gone.

I have utterly abandoned good telephone manners. Telephones are not a way to communicate unless I’m making the call. Otherwise, it’s annoying and intrusive — another attempt to steal personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other way.

I can’t make them stop calling because they never call from the same number twice and the number that shows on the Caller ID is fake. There’s nothing to report. NOMOROBO dot com has considerably limited the volume of calls, but nothing eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.”

Except, I never do that. I do not fill in forms online and anything which requires I include a phone number. I tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.
I actually do have a smartphone. I just don’t use it.

As part of the day’s epiphanies, I realized how technology steals pieces of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with the technology. It is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. It’s what people do with it that’s can be life-stealing. Those People have ruined telephones for me, probably forever.

Unwanted telephone calls may seem a minor detail in view of the many awful things going on in our world these days, but I can remember waiting with pleasant anticipation for the phone to ring. It wasn’t that long ago.

Or was it?