Things I Know

Donald Trump urging the Russians to try to find Hillary’s missing thirty-thousand emails.  It was funny, it got Hillary’s emails into the news again, and the Russians didn’t need Trump to suggest it.

The Democrats blaming the Russians for the DNC email leaks.  If the Russians were responsible, that was wrong.  Foreign nationals and foreign governments are not supposed to try to influence US elections.  But, blaming the Russians was an attempt to change the focus of the story.  Nobody denied the facts revealed in the DNC email leaks.  Bernie always wants to be left, but he was right that the DNC was against him.

Bill and Hillary Clinton each get paid a lot of money to make speeches.  Still, I bet they did their speeches this week in Philadelphia for free.

Rep.  Debbie Wasserman Schultz seems to have been fired from her job as Chairperson of the Democratic National Committee.  So, she resigned, effective at the end of this week.  When I was in radio, we used to call that leaving by mutual consent:  the boss said, “you’re fired,” and you said, “If that’s the way you feel about it, I don’t want to work here anymore.”

It’s fun to see that both the Republicans and the Democrats have party unity issues.

Protestors at the Democratic convention seem to me to be louder than the ones at the Republican convention.  What do you think?

In order to appeal to younger voters, my daughter suggests the Republicans call their 2020 convention “Republicon.”  She’s trying to tack con onto the word Democrat too, but hasn’t come up with a euphonic way to achieve that.  Democon would work, but it could also mean a convention of pollsters.

With the recent departure of Roger Ailes from Fox News, and reports that he’s being paid some $40 million to depart, I’m reminded once again that the highest paid job in network TV appears to be leaving your job.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that leaving your job in local radio is more likely to cost you money than to make you any.

Sprinkles (or if you prefer, Jimmies) come in different colors, but they’re all the same flavor.

If you’re going to pull off to the side of the road, pull off to the side of the road.  Don’t park with the rear end of your car stuck so far out into traffic that you choke two lanes of traffic down to one.

It’s one thing to run a red light.  It’s quite another thing to get angry at me and the other driver who just managed to avoid hitting you when you ran the red light.

If a road crew fills a pothole, it would be good if someone, maybe a supervisor, came by later to see if the thing sank and needs to be filled some more.

If they don’t repave Main Street in Hempstead NY, south of Front Street pretty soon, I’m going to stop driving on it until someone else agrees to pay for the damage to the suspension on my car.

The spell checker I use now says ginormous is a real word.  Egantic, though, still isn’t.

GOP Convention Short Takes

For the first time since I was eligible to vote, I don’t know if I’m even going to vote for President this year.  Like many people, I’m not keen on either the Democrat or the Republican candidate.  This is reflected in the fact that both of them have extremely high negatives in voter polls.

One of two things happened the other night when Ted Cruz spoke at the Republican Presidential Convention.  He may have been the guy lots of people consider him to be–someone who insists on being right and on sticking that in your face.  Or he took a tremendous political gamble, one which will only pay off if Donald Trump goes down in flames, but will kill Cruz’ political career if Trump is elected and goes on to a successful presidency, and may kill Cruz’ career anyway.

Either way, the polite thing to do would have been to pass on speaking at the convention. I understand not supporting someone who made personal attacks on your father and your wife.  I wouldn’t either.  Still, in my opinion, what he did was the equivalent of having a fight with the birthday boy, showing up at the party anyway, and defecating on the birthday cake.

I’m not going to watch gavel-to-gavel coverage of Philadelphia either, but if I have any opinions on what goes on there, I’ll let you know here.

Things I Know

It was hard for me to believe, but Trevor Noah said something funny the other day.  I’m not in the demographic the Comedy Channel is targeting with the Daily Show, so they probably don’t care, but I just don’t find Mr. Noah. Funny.  YMMV.  But the other night, he was joking about breaking into Donald Trump’s house.  He said it was easy to defeat the alarm system because the password was TRUMP.

I told Saint Karen (who has to be a saint to put up with me) a terrible joke.  Those are the best kind.  I think it was, what do you call a patronizing criminal who is going downstairs?  You know, a condescending con descending.  She made a face, that face.  Before she could say a word, I said, “You knew long before you married me.”  She admitted that’s true, and that’s one of the reasons I love her.

This morning, while we were both looking for my wallet, she said I was driving her crazy.  I told her I’m pretty sure she’s immune.  After all, it has never taken me this long to make anyone else nuts.

I recorded CBS Sunday Morning on my DVR.  I started watching it 18 minutes after it began.  By fast forwarding through the teases and the commercials, it took me 41 minutes to catch up. 

We need to try again to understand the meaning of the word “after.”  NY Post headline: “Man injured after suicide attempt at mall.”  I’m just guessing here, but the suicide attempt is probably what caused him to be injured.  Man injured by suicide attempt at mall, would be more accurate. 

I’m disappointed.  While I came up with the pun “electile dysfunction” all by myself, I Googled it afterwards and found lots of other people came up with it both independently and before I did.

Addenda

It has been called to my attention that another Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, expressed her hope that George H.W. Bush would be elected over Michael Dukakis in a 1988 pre-election letter to Senator Barry Goldwater.  To be bipartisan about it, I think that was inappropriate as well, but Justice O’Connor’s statement wasn’t made public for many years after that election.

Too many people in this country judge public figures’ actions by whether they agree with the public figures’ politics.  I wish that wasn’t so.

I’ve been challenged too by someone who says the judicial canon I quoted yesterday doesn’t apply to the U.S. Supreme Court.  I am not a lawyer or a judge and I don’t know whether that person is a lawyer or a judge. I don’t know if the canon applies or not.  I just think Justice Ginsberg’s statement was both inappropriate, and contrary to her own political interests.

I also think the Senate should have held hearings on Merrick Garland’s nomination to the court, and that the Supreme Court over at least the past 40-50 years has become entirely too political.

My penultimate comment is that Mr. Wolfson’s tweet which I quoted yesterday had a heart-shaped emoji between I and RGB.  The software used to publish the blog somehow managed to remove it.  I’m sorry about that and don’t know how to fix it.

Above all, I know (not think) that my opinions on this or any other issue don’t matter to people in power.  My opinions are my own.  They are given here freely and worth what you paid for them.

Stepping Over the Line

Hon. Ruth Bader-Ginsberg, a justice of the US Supreme Court, said in a newspaper interview that she would consider moving to New Zealand if Donald Trump became president of the United States.  It was first reported in the NY Times, but I saw it in the NY Post.  I have never heard of any federal judge, especially a member of the Supreme Court, saying anything like this.  Why?   Because it’s specifically prohibited by Code of Conduct for United States Judges.  This is from the website uscourts.gov: 

“Canon 5: A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity

(A) General Prohibitions. A judge should not:

(1) act as a leader or hold any office in a political organization;

(2) make speeches for a political organization or candidate, or publicly endorse or oppose a candidate for public office; or

(3) solicit funds for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate.

(B) Resignation upon Candidacy. A judge should resign the judicial office if the judge becomes a candidate in a primary or general election for any office.

(C) Other Political Activity. A judge should not engage in any other political activity. This provision does not prevent a judge from engaging in activities described in Canon 4.”

This judicial canon applies to all federal judges, part-time, full-time and retired with exceptions made, under certain circumstances, for retired federal magistrates and retired federal bankruptcy judges.  It does apply to members of the US Supreme Court.

It’s astonishing that any sitting Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court would publicly oppose a candidate for President of the United States.  It’s also astonishing that Justice Bader-Ginsburg would consider this course of action.  If Trump were elected and she abandoned her post it would be antithetical to her political beliefs and interests.  It would allow a Republican President to appoint another member of the U.S. Supreme Court.  For the record, I’d be appalled by her statement if she had endorsed Donald Trump instead of saying she’d consider moving to New Zealand if he were elected.  This country, since its inception, has prohibited federal judges from participating in electoral politics.

I haven’t researched it thoroughly, but the last Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court that I recall participating in electoral politics is Arthur Goldberg.  He resigned from the court before running against incumbent governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York in 1970.  He lost.

What surprises me more than anything else about this is that it hasn’t created a public outcry.  I am glad to hear that she has been criticized for the comment by some political commentators and especially heartened by a tweet from Howard Wolfson who was an aide to Hillary Clinton and to NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Wolfson tweeted: 

“I  RBG but I don’t think our Supreme Court justices should be publicly offering their opinions about POTUS candidates.”

Good on Mr. Wolfson.  This shouldn’t be a partisan issue.  The Justice has crossed a line she should not have drawn.

Collecting

Yesterday, I received a letter dated late last week from a collection agency.  Let’s call the agency Confluent Collection Company.  That’s not its name, but it’s far enough away from its name that I believe firmly that libel and slander laws don’t apply here.  Plus, what I’m saying is true and it’s a nice alliteration.  Anyway, I think the alliteration is nice. 

The letter said I owed someone else some money, so I should pay them.  Actually, it said I owe Ken’s Hospital $20, and maybe I do.  Who knows?  I certainly couldn’t tell from the letter because it didn’t give an account number, a patient’s name, a date of service, or any other detail than the collection agency’s account number and an amount, $20. 

This is a fault of many collection agencies, sending you a demand letter without giving you enough information for you to tell whether you actually do owe the money.  If I sent you a letter and it said you owe Frank some money (with no explanation at all), so you should send it to me, would you?  If you would, please send me your address and I’ll send you such a letter.  I won’t, however, guarantee in that letter that you actually do owe Frank any money. 

What happens, if you don’t know, is that frequently corporations sell their debts to a debt collector for some percentage of the original amount and the debt collector gets to keep anything they can collect.  Frequently, the sale is just a spreadsheet with no documentation.  Less frequently, I hope, the debts are invalid or beyond the statute of limitations for debt collection.  If you should receive such a demand, do not admit to the debt.  Ask for proof.  If you receive proof and if you owe the money, by all means, pay it.  That’s what I do.

On Tuesday, I got a letter dated three days before the one from the collection agency.  This one was from Ken’s Hospital telling me that I owed them $40 and I should pay it.

Following my own advice, I called Confluent Collection Company to ask them to send me documentation of the debt so I could determine if I owed it.  I called the number on the letter I received yesterday.  I didn’t reach anyone.  I didn’t even reach an automated phone attendant.  What I got was a recording, several minutes long, containing various ads, and telling me I won a free, five-day cruise.  Don’t fall for that one, by the way.  At the end, it told me the number I called (from the letter I received yesterday) had been changed.  Seething, I called the other number.  Same damned thing, except I didn’t stay on the line long enough to find out if the number had been changed again.

I steeled myself for the loathsome task of writing a snail-mail letter, but before that, I called Ken’s Hospital (actually, I called Ken’s Hospital’s parent corporation) to find out if and why I owe them $40.  After minor problems with their automated phone attendant, I spoke to a very pleasant woman named Noreen.  She answered my questions.  She explained what it was all about.  I now understand that I do $20 and may owe the other $20.  Noreen said she would send me the documentation.  If I do owe all the money, I will send them all the money sometime next week.

Noreen was also able to tell me that the other $20 was the account that had been sent for collection.  She said she’d remove it from collection.  Good job, Noreen.  I did explain to her that I objected to being notified I owed money without being told by the collection agency what money or given the opportunity to find out what money.  I also said if they were going to send me a collection notice over the 4th of July weekend, they ought to give me time to sober up and answer them before submitting it to a collection agency. 

Minor mistake on the part of Ken’s Hospital’s billing department to go along with my minor mistake in not paying them promptly.  I usually do pay my bills quickly and if I miss, I usually catch up the next month because it was an oversight on my part.

As an aside, as far as I’m concerned, Ken’s Hospital is one of the best hospitals on the planet.  If you get sick or injured, I hope you have a place as good as that one to get treatment.

There are two lessons collection agencies should take away from this.  If you want someone to pay you money, tell them what it’s for, not just who it’s for.  And, if you don’t tell them what it’s for, but you do give them a phone number to find out, let them find out at that phone number.  Maybe there’s a third lesson.  I was so offended by the phone response that I will never buy anything from the companies that were advertising on that reverse robocall.

The lesson you should take from this is that if you receive a collection notice, find out what it’s for before you pay them.  If they can’t tell you what it’s for, don’t pay them.