My friend Mary wrote:
Hi Roger- Re: “Ask Roger Anything” – I’m helping [my son] plan his courses for next semester, and so these questions come to mind: What was your very favorite course taken as an undergrad? Most useful later in life (for any reason)? One you struggled to get through but was worth it? Etcetera…
Favorite course: American Government and Politics, the intro course, which has also been quite useful for me as a librarian in ascertaining which federal department might have jurisdiction over different issues. Given his proclivity for politics – I follow his Facebook page – it might be a good fit.
I also liked a music intro course where I got a little music theory, composed some little ditties, and had a lot of fun.
Most useful later: intro to psychology, and logic. Understanding how the human mind works.
Struggled with, but was worth it: intro to anthropology, which I must confess was a struggle because it was at 8 a.m. Understanding where we as a species came from.
Struggled with, worth it as an exercise: intro to calculus. I was failing, going into the final, crammed for two days, passed the final. Looked at the book two weeks later but didn’t understand a thing.
In general, I believe a broad liberal arts education can serve one well, especially with someone as bright as your son clearly is.
A whole bunch of questions about our political election year
Best described in this parody: Finnish News Team Reports On U.S. Elections
Why is Donald Drumpf? (That’s the whole question, hee hee hee)
After I started writing this, my friend Dan wrote The Presidential Distraction Examined, which touches on all the candidates, and which you should read. Or The rise of American authoritarianism. Heck, you answered your own question with Greedy Bastard.
We Americans have always been attracted to the carnival barker. We know that he’s probably giving us a bunch of hooey, but we’ll still spend the quarter to see the half-boy/half-alligator, or the bearded lady.
Drumpf is a master of self-promotion. The fact that his businesses, his brands are probably not as successful as he would have you believe is irrelevant. In a society where facts are at a premium, and celebrity is king – is Robert Downey Jr. moving to Albany? Er, no – a guy with an unconvincing combover of an unnatural color can be perceived as “genuine”, the fact that he contradicts himself regularly notwithstanding.
His birther attack on President Obama, I’ve come to see, was a trial run. Without a shred of evidence, Drumpf kept alive the notion that Obama was born in Nigeria. Or Indonesia.
Now he runs for President, and right out of the gate, he insults Mexican immigrants, and John McCain, and Muslims, and intelligent women. The punditry is SURE that his campaign will be over before it begins. But he gains support, not IN SPITE of those remarks, but BECAUSE of them. “He’s unfiltered! He’s not politically correct!”
And people watch. The ratings of the summer 2015 GOP debates were at least FOUR TIMES as large as the ones in 2011. As Les Moonves said about CBS News’ overabundant coverage of the man: “Who would’ve thought this circus would come to town?… It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah likened Moonves’ and the news media’s, attitude to that of a doctor who says, ‘I hate to see all these patients coming in with cancer, but I have to admit, it’s been really good for my practice.'”
Let me say a word in defense of political correctness. Saying whatever comes to mind is not the sign of maturity or bravery, but of the mindset of children, who used to say the darndest things to Art Linkletter on his daytime talk show many years ago. When grownups do the same things, they are often a$$@#^%! The fact that his speeches have been targeted to third- or fourth-graders intellect is, sadly, effective. Even when it’s crazy.
Maybe that comes from talking too much to himself. On Morning Joe (MSNBC), he said recently: “I know what I’m doing, and I listen to a lot of people, I talk to a lot of people, and at the appropriate time I’ll tell you who the people are. But my primary consultant is myself.” To that end, here he is, consulting his campaign advisers.
And something else: none of his opponents are nearly as good as being contemptible as The Donald is. Marco Rubio started a riff suggesting the inferior size of Drumpf’s…er, genitalia. But Marco, not Donald, seemed the lesser person for this, as he admitted shortly before he dropped out of the race. The late-night comics had started referring to Rubio as Little Marco, just as the tycoon does.
Some ex-Jeb Bush operative said a Drumpf presidency would be like a chimp driving a tractor. Seems petty. Whereas The Donald is an EXCELLENT mudslinger.
One cannot underestimate, though, how much Americans HAVE been ripped off by the rich and powerful, the stuff that Bernie Sanders has been talking about. That anger and frustration are real, but Drumpf as the solution is surreal.
This, naturally, leads to Buffalo-area book scribe Jaquandor
Do you think Bernie Sanders would be an effective President, in terms of furthering a liberal agenda?
I chose to believe that, on the off chance Bernie Sanders gets elected – hey, he won the overseas vote – that his win would represent such a seminal shift in the body electoral that he would have actually a chance to enact some of his reforms. This would be especially true if some of those Senate seats in marginal states go to the Democrats.
And if he DOESN’T win, perhaps he’s started a movement that will prevail in 2020, when, presumably the country will, by then, realize that supporting a Nordic-style approach is not an act of altruism but of self-promotion.
Of course, I can only see this happening if, in addition to him making a miraculous comeback on the Democratic side against Hillary Clinton, that either 1) Drumpf gets the GOP nomination or 2) he is denied the nomination by some GOP machinations and goes third party.
BTW, I find it hysterical that the Republican establishment is now largely supporting Ted Cruz since they pretty much HATE Ted Cruz. Naturally, Cruz has called on US police to patrol Muslim neighborhoods in the wake of the Brussels attack.
You may have seen former GOP Presidential candidate Lindsey Graham say, less than a month ago, “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.” And now Graham is fundraising for Cruz.
It’s not that they’ve changed their minds about the obstructionist who is Rafael Cruz. Samantha Bee illustrates how unlikeable Ted Cruz really is—his whole life. It’s that the GOP establishment finds Drumpf the greater existential threat to the party, and perhaps the nation. Ruth Marcus, in the Washington Post back in December 2015, said that Drumpf was a better choice than Cruz because one could work with the former, but three months later, she changed her mind.
Both GOP candidates were criticized, though not by name, in this CBS Sunday Morning piece by a combat veteran this past week. “For too many Americans in 2016, war isn’t a dire act turned to once all other options have been exhausted. It’s a narcotic, a quick fix, something that happens in strange, faraway lands, where other people’s sons and daughters do violent things for country.”
The most eclectic Dustbury wonders:
What would be the one change you’d most like to see in the governance of the State of New York?
It appears that the sense of entitlement has brought forth all those indictments of our state legislators, including, in the last year or so, the Speaker of the Assembly AND the head of the State Senate, continues to run rampant.
Generally, I disdain term limits, because I believe philosophically the people should be able to elect who they want. But I also recognize that the state legislature gets to pick the gerrymandered boundaries of the state legislature.
I like the idea of a truly independent board that would redraw the lines every ten years, pretty much ignoring the previous boundaries, and primarily paying attention to finding the population balance, still with some consideration of neighborhoods, would be nice. I just don’t know what that looks like.
Coincidentally there will be a seminar this Friday at the Albany Law School, “Can a NYS Constitutional Convention Strengthen Government Ethics?”
“With so much talk about the erosion of integrity in government, can the problems with elected officials that so frequently dominate our headlines be fixed statutorily or are they more appropriately addressed through constitutional change? As November 2017 and a statewide referendum on whether or not to call a constitutional convention near, this and other questions will be increasingly on the minds of the voters. This forum will address these important issues.”
How is Andrew Cuomo doing, six years in?
He’s a strange egg. He’s been pushing the $15/hour minimum wage, and much of the literature shows him with his late father, the former governor Mario Cuomo. Mario, I liked; Andrew, not so much.
I remain convinced, with the fall of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, both on corruption charges, that Andrew could be next. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.