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Rex Smith

  • Do you ever cringe in self-recognition? I mean, like this: I was a somewhat arrogant young fellow. In fact, when I was a college freshman, I was so annoyed by my introductory political science class that I made an appointment with the dean of the university to complain. I wanted him to know that the course wasn’t rigorous enough, and that the old professor was using outdated examples in his lectures.
  • Albany’s great Man of Letters, William Kennedy, just turned 95. That’s worth celebrating. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and a MacArthur “genius grant,” -- and, thankfully, the guy is still writing.
  • It’s winter in the Great Northeast, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s not winter-y enough. I mean, unless you’re in Buffalo or thereabouts – and, if you are, I’m sorry for you – there just hasn’t been much snow. This is the Northern Hemisphere, folks: Winter should mean something.
  • This is for everybody who began this new year frustrated with the way things are. You know, our friends are still getting COVID, a Republican-led House (dysfunctional as it may be) is expected to block any important legislation this year, and we are still only feebly battling climate change and economic injustice.
  • Since politicians are such adept actors, don’t you think they should take more life lessons from theater? I’ve been thinking of that with a new Congress taking office, and with the predictions of impasse resulting from the divided Capitol.
  • Here we are, the end of another year at hand, still confronting the same huge challenges. You know, climate change that’s already making the planet less habitable… democracy imperiled by people who see politics as just the means to power… economic injustice, racial and ethnic prejudice… and, of course, military conflict and the threat of wider wars.
  • The other day, a Siena Poll revealed that a lot of New Yorkers don’t much like Governor Kathy Hochul – though they just elected her last month. Now 43 percent of those polled have an unfavorable view of her; that’s the highest unfavorability rating she has ever encountered. I’d say it suggests that the negative campaign against her this fall worked: In the parlance of politics, it raised her negatives.
  • It sounds like Shakespeare, and it’s often attributed to Jack Kennedy, or sometimes to Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law. But it probably was Tacitus, the first-century Roman historian and politician, who came up with the phrase that’s now passed down in English as this: “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan.”
  • It seems that hate speech and outrageous lies will have free rein once again on Twitter – thanks to Elon Musk’s reckless ownership. It’s just one more sign that the internet, the dominant way we communicate these days, is a very messy place where standards of truth don’t have much of a toehold. You see the impact of that all around us. Social media, especially, encourages violence, misleads voters, and leaves us isolated in fact-challenged bubbles.
  • You don’t think of Mickey Mouse as being a hostile figure, but Disney didn’t pull its punches in firing its CEO the other day.