"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Congressman's Schrader's Telephone Town Hall is Buggy

I just finished listening to Congressman Kurt Schrader's (my congressional rep here in Salem) telephone town hall. I have no idea how it went for the rest of the people, but I was frustrated beyond belief.

I was told I would be called several minutes before 7 pm, but was instead called at 7:06 pm after the town hall had already started. If there were any instructions at the beginning, then I missed them. I punched in the keys to be placed in a queue for questions, then waited the entire remaining fifty-four minutes (God forbid that the "meeting" should go over the allotted 1 hour) while a malfunctioning recorded voice would break in between the questions and answers every 45 seconds with "press the th-th-th-th-th key now." I hit the pound key several times (I heard the word "pound" in there once-- and I seriously mean once) which had absolutely no discernible effect on anything. I never talked to an operator, nor any human being. The constant automated interruptions made it almost impossible to follow the questions and answers, and I learned next to nothing from the whole technically incompetent affair.

While refusing to meet with his constituents face-to-face, Schrader and his people were unable to demonstrate even the most basic technical abilities to set-up and handle a touch tone phone menu. Local talk radio shows (which I have never called in to-- to be fair) seem to run things better than this. And he wants us to believe that Congress should handle our health care insurance... This experience does not fill me with confidence.

NOTE: You may notice that the post time of this entry is 7:56pm-- 4 minutes before the town hall was over. This is because after 50 minutes of "th-th-th-th-th key now" I opened up the "new post" to write about my experience, which means this entry was time-stamped at that moment. I stayed with the "town hall" till the end and did not begin writing until after I hung up after its conclusion.


  1. Congress's idea is to appear to listen (in the better cases), not to actually listen. And, I must say, Yukio, heaven help any member of Congress if you ask a question after thoughtfully reading the entire Senate bill. The rep and his staff might learn something. Horrors!

    Here on the other coast, in New York State, the notion that a member of Congress could have a town hall meeting on the subject of a total rebuild of our health care system has pretty much evaporated into the ozone layer. In my area, there was a quickie weekday afternoon meeting with one rep (though how people found out about it beforehand is a mystery to me), and then there is today's infamous "quote of the day" of Rep. Massa who vowed to vote for single payer even if 80% of his constituents oppose it. That about sums up what we face in this state.