The Lydster: Feeling the Bern

I swear I saw Joe Bruno.

Trumpcar2On Monday, April 11, not one but THREE Presidential candidates were going to be in the Capital District of New York State: John Kasich (R), Bernie Sanders (D), and Donald Drumpf (R). A day or two before, The Daughter started wheedling me – why didn’t she bug her mother? – to see one of them, the one alphabetically last.

I said no. I said no because I was afraid she might get hurt. She said that no one was going to hurt a little girl, but I noted that she is taller than most adult women. She should watch him on television. (I was also afraid I might get hurt, but I didn’t bring that up.)

Her counter-proposal was to see Bernie Sanders. I noted that he too would be on TV, and he was speaking during the school day.

“But it would be educational!”

She wanted ME to contact her teacher to ask if she could go, but I said she could go if SHE asked her teacher and she said yes; she can be shy in these matters.

Monday morning, I had to get a blood test, which I ended up going to TWICE because I forgot my insurance card the first time. I kept checking my email to see if her teacher contacted me. The Wife came home early – she had an eye test in the early afternoon – and she checked HER email, where she received a positive response from the teacher to MY inquiry.

By this time, it was already noon. The Washington Armory opened at 11 a.m., and the rally was at 2 p.m. I got the Daughter out of school. The Wife dropped us a block from the Armory, because I figure the traffic at Washington and Lark would be crazy, and so it was.

We went to the end of the line, which was down Washington Avenue, across Dove Street, up Elk Street to behind the armory; had we realized, we would have gone the shorter route.

I engaged a young man, 33, behind us in conversation. We decided that this was very educational for the Daughter, because it addressed sociology (the nature of the crowd), history, political science, meteorology (it was very windy, raining briefly; his girlfriend was freezing), and undoubtedly other disciplines.

A green car drove by a couple times, with Drumpf USA, etc. painted in splotchy white, as though he’d used a huge bottle of Wite-Out. It had two huge American flags.
Even as the Armory was in sight, I knew the capacity of the Washington Armory was 3000 for basketball games, maybe 1000 more for something like this, and that we probably wouldn’t get in. This turned out to be the case.

Still, we stuck around. I ran into my friends Dan and Lynne. I bought The Daughter a Feel the Bern T-shirt and a couple buttons.

She started taking notes, as we listened to the activities inside via a couple speakers that kept cutting out. The audio in front stopped playing music, and we heard, “I’m sorry the venue wasn’t big enough.”


He gave a seven-minute speech on his main topics: end fracking, Medicare for all, free college, climate change is real. “We can’t spend trillions in Iraq while we leave our cities at home.” Some families are spending 50-60% on housing each month. There’s too much police violence. We need a $15 per hour minimum wage.

He noted that movements develop from the bottom up: trade unions, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights.

After that, we caught a bus and went home, and watched the last 50 minutes of the speech on TV. We also saw Kasich speak in Troy.

The Wife took us out to dinner; it was quite good. In another room, I swear I saw Joe Bruno, the former state Senate Majority Leader, surrounded by a dozen others.

The Daughter was trying to rush The Wife home, because she (and I) wanted to watch The Donald. He didn’t say anything in that way he generally does: read some reviews. All in all, an excellent day.

The next day, The Daughter confessed that she didn’t REALLY wanted to see Donald, she wanted to see Bernie, but used the DJT request as an opening salvo in what she REALLY wanted. Well played, Daughter, but I would have said yes to Bernie, eventually, even without the chicanery.

Photo credits: car (c) 2016 Kate Intelisano. Bernie (c) Daniel Van Riper

April snow

Lion King

The first time I wore boots in the winter of 2015-2016: April 5, 2016.
The first time I SHOULD have worn boots in that period: April 4, 2016, which ended up generating four inches, about 10 cm. I should have worn them mostly because people seem to have forgotten how to shovel snow. This includes, BTW, the building I work in. With temperatures hitting 70F (21C) in the past couple of weeks, temperatures in the 20s F (just below zero C) are a shock to some.

But it was a non-event winter here, so I’m not complaining about a little April snow. It has snowed in Albany in April before, in 1982 and 2000, two times I specifically recalled. It snowed on May 18, 2002, the year The Wife graduated from grad school, and they had to bring the ceremony inside.

Invasion of the vote seekers
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, stands with Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., after speaking at a rally at Cohoes High School on Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cohoes, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, center, stands with Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., after speaking at a rally at Cohoes High School on Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cohoes, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Uncharacteristically, New York State matters this year in both parties’ presidential primaries on April 19.

I managed to have gotten invited to see Hillary Clinton when she stopped in Albany County on April 4. I opted against it, in part because The Wife had been home with a sick child all day, and I wasn’t that feeling great myself, certainly not well enough to wait out in the cold to get into the event.

Also, I wasn’t planning on voting for her in the primary. Still, she’s a former First Lady, former Secretary of State, and twice elected U.S. Senator from my state, when I DID vote for her.

Later that evening, I tuned into the CBS Evening News, which I had recorded, and discovered WRGB Channel 6 had pre-empted it to show the intros by Tonko and Gillibrand, plus the first 13 minutes of HRC’s speech, then presumably cut away to a game show. I reckon the Time Warner news probably covered it more thoroughly.

Ted Cruz was in Scotia in nearby Schenectady County yesterday. John Kasich (rhymes with basic) and Bernie Sanders may be in the area soon as well.

Speaking of Bernie: I read about the Message Requests function on Facebook from Mark Evanier this week. Turns out I had five messages there. Four seemed spammy. The fifth, from February 9 asked me to promote a march for Bernie on February 27. I probably would have.

The cringeworthy Donald was looking for an Albany venue for a rally next week. I mentioned to my spouse that maybe I’d stop by, not to participate or to protest, but merely to observe. She, uncharacteristically, scowled, “Be careful. I MEAN it!”



Last month, the family caught The Lion King at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady (near Albany) Maundy Thursday evening; there’s a story about the timing, but it involves someone else. The Wife and I had seen it before, maybe five years ago, but The Daughter had not.

Since then, she played young Nala at church, so we knew she’d enjoy the spectacle, and she did. She could sing along with several songs, notably Chow Down, which she never sang, but heard often as the hyenas practiced their threats to eat Simba and Nala.

Good Friday, our church choir performed Charles Gounod’s Seven Last Words, which was very moving. Even more so, Ah, Holy Jesus, an arrangement by Ferguson, featuring the viola.

I’ve been to the Massry Center at the College of Saint Rose twice in recent weeks, which is within walking distance of our house. Before Easter, I listened to the Mozart requiem, a piece of music I’ve sung thrice in my life and truly love.

This past Sunday, I attended the senior recital of Maria Rabbia, a CSR senior who has been singing at our church choir. There was a large First Presbyterian contingent in the audience.

She performed pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Prokofiev, and Chopin. Scanning the program beforehand, I wondered why she hadn’t put the Chopin before the Debussy, which would have put the music in both alphabetical and chronological order. But Chopin is a barn burner, and thus a more suitable ending.

Maria has been studying piano since she was five. the and organ – she played the postlude at church once, quite well – since she was 12. Mark my words: Maria Rabbia will be a notable musician someday.

Photo of Maria Rabbia (C) 2016 by Tim O’Toole

College, and a LOT of politics (ARA)

Do I say to him what he ought to do in order to try to save the relationship OR assume those facts to be immutable. and advise him how to survive it better?

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

The evil Amy from Sharp Little Pencil muses:

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.

Drumpf link dump

Have we finally reached peak Drumpf?

trump uCynicism requires some to suggest that the action by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman against Drumpf University to be politically motivated. However, this investigation has been going on for months, as they are wont to do.

John Hightower, who went to my church when I was growing up – he was about a decade older, wrote this on Facebook this past week. He wrote “Drumpf,” but the software on my computer changed them all to “Drumpf.”

IN TWO DEPOSITIONS taken over the last three months, Donald Drumpf acknowledged under oath that he had no role in selecting Drumpf University’s instructors, despite claiming in a promotional video that they “are all people that are handpicked by me.”

Drumpf University, a now-defunct sales ploy that promised to teach Donald Drumpf’s real estate “secrets” to enrollees and make them rich in the process, has become a flashpoint in the Republican presidential primary debates. In the GOP debate in Detroit, for instance, Sen. Marco Rubio lit into Donald Drumpf over the “handpicked” instructors. Drumpf retorted with a fabrication, claiming that the Better Business Bureau had given Drumpf University an A rating. As Rubio pointed out in the exchange, the most recent rating was a D minus.

A critical part of Drumpf University’s SALES PITCH to prospective students was the claim that Donald Drumpf PERSONALLY SELECTED the program’s instructors— a claim repeated over and over in the company’s marketing literature. Drumpf University’s direct mail advertising included letters with Drumpf’s signature on them that claimed that Drumpf University students would receive guidance from Drumpf’s “HANDPICKED INSTRUCTORS and MENTORS”. At live events, Drumpf University instructors recited speeches from a company-authorized script that read, in part, “I remember one time Mr. Drumpf SAID TO US over dinner…”

In a memorandum to the court submitted in late February 2016, Drumpf University’s attorneys reference “instructors, who were selected based on Mr. Drumpf’s criteria and input.” The mantra about Drumpf’s “handpicked instructors” was a critical part of the RECRUITMENT STRATEGY for a GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME whose appeal centered entirely on Donald Drumpf’s personal reputation as a real estate business virtuoso. But in a brief filed on March 3 in a class-action lawsuit, attorneys representing THOUSANDS OF FORMER STUDENTS revealed that in a video recorded deposition, DRUMPF “CONFESSED UNDER OATH that he did NOT handpick a single TU live events instructor.” Drumpf further “acknowledged that other instructors’ presentations showed they LIED TO STUDENTS about their connections to him.”

Not only did Drumpf have nothing to do with selecting instructors, “he personally did nothing to confirm their purported qualifications” and “could not identify a single live events instructor or mentor by name or pick one out of a photo lineup,” according to the brief. (For his part, Drumpf claimed that the reason he never personally interviewed even his top instructors was that he had heard that the school was doing well, and thus deemed it unnecessary.)

Many of the “handpicked” instructors have testified that they have never met Drumpf. In the depositions, Drumpf was unable to even affirm whether his instructors had ever bought or sold real estate before. The brief, filed in federal district court, further asserts that Donald Drumpf admitted under oath that he retains no real estate techniques beyond what has been published in his books. In other words, students who PAID AS MUCH AS $60,000 to Drumpf University over the course of a year could have gotten the exact same information through a $10 BOOK PURCHASED ON AMAZON!

In 2010, Drumpf University changed its name to “Drumpf Entrepreneur Initiative,” five years after the New York State Education Department warned the company that its use of the “university” moniker without an NYSED license was UNLAWFUL. In Drumpf’s deposition, he admitted to having known that the company was out of compliance with the law even as it continued to operate under the “Drumpf University” brand name, presenting itself as an elite educational institution on par with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The new brief adds to the abundance of evidence that Drumpf University was, essentially, a high-pressure sales RACKET aimed at BILKING GULLIBLE PEOPLE, many of them senior citizens, out of tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The original complaint in the suit describes its practices in detail:

•Students in the program’s introductory three-day seminar were told to use their break times to double or even quadruple their CREDIT CARD LIMITS and were asked to fill out financial statements so they’d be prepared to finance lucrative real estate transactions. Instructors then used those higher credit limits and financial information to pressure the students into enrolling in Drumpf University’s $34,995 Gold Program. Drumpf University sold “one year apprenticeship” programs for $1,495 that were in actuality a three-day workshop and a 1-800 number to a “client advisor.”

•Drumpf University assigned “mentors” to students who, once paid, would rarely call the students back and often advised students to invest in deals that the mentors had financial stakes in.

•Drumpf University taught students to engage in practices that are illegal in some states, such as placing “bandit signs” on the sides of roads — signs that resemble official road hazard signs but read, “WE BUY HOUSES, 323-555-5555.”

•Students were routinely stiffed on refunds that were promised under Drumpf University’s “money-back guarantee.”

Meanwhile, as those of you in the United States know, re: Drumpf:


What’s happening?!

He is the GOP’s Frankenstein monster. Now he’s strong enough to destroy the party. The Republicans liked the enthusiasm that Drumpf generated and thought, incorrectly, that they could harness it.

Some Republicans call for a third-party option. Shades of the 1850s, when the Whig party disintegrated, and the Republican party grew from its ashes.

The big news is that Drumpf announces a possible third party bid after Mitt Romney unloads, and calls him a “fraud.” Romney was the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee, and the 2008 candidate, John McCain, who Drumpf criticized for being a POW, shared in the sentiment.

Wall Street readies big assault. But will it work, or will it backfire, with voters thinking that Donald is being persecuted?

The plan now for some establishment Republicans is to push Florida senator Marco Rubio, who lost the support of Fox News – as though a “news” organization ought to be supporting a candidate – to win in Florida, and for Ohio governor John Kasich (rhymes with basic) to win in Ohio, both winner-take-all states, on March 15. Winner-take-all means that candidate gets ALL the delegates, not just a proportion.

If Drumpf does not have a majority of delegates going into the convention, there’s some fuzzy plan to deny him the nomination, for delegates are bound to their candidate for the first round. In other words, rigging the convention and installing someone else (Rubio? Kasich? ROMNEY?) as the nominee. Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House, has already declined.

This is the one reason to vote for The Donald that actually makes sense to me: “My goal is to destroy the Republican Party”: Former Reagan adviser Bruce Bartlett explains his vote.

William Rivers Pitt: A Call to His Evangelical Voters.

Quora: Should I vote for him because at the very least he won’t be corrupt? Er, no.

How did this happen?

He is an opportunistic infection.

Revenge of the Simple: How George W. Bush Gave Rise…

The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism.

The novel that foreshadowed his authoritarian appeal. (Sinclair Lewis)

Weekly Sift: Have we finally reached peak Drumpf? “Arguing with Drumpf supporters has been like telling your 17-year-old daughter that her 29-year-old boyfriend is no good for her: It’s obvious to you, but everything you say just reinforces the me-and-him-against-the-world mystique that has been driving the relationship from the beginning.”

They say tragedy plus time equals comedy. Maybe I need more time.

John Oliver: Here’s why his self-funded, business-savvy, tough-talking campaign is a lie.

Jimmy Kimmel: A musical comedy about the 2016 presidential race.

Your drunk neighbor.

5 places black people can move if Donald Drumpf wins the presidency.

More Polly-ticks

Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton So Much?

Elizabeth Warren is savvy not to endorse Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton.

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