Ever since Trump University was shuttered by some do-gooder judge who thought the whole thing was just a scam to enrich the President, I’ve been looking for a new course of study. Real estate wasn’t really my thing anyway, although I had a great slogan to use had I earned my credentials: “Selling Montana, 40 acres at a time.”
There is no end to the list of educational programs available online. And now, of course, is the ideal time to enroll with borrowed funds you won’t have to pay back if a Democrat wins the White House in November. For the sake of full disclosure, if Trump is re-elected, Betsy DeVos will personally hunt your ass down to collect every penny because that’s just the way she is. Not even her closest friends like her.
It seems that very few people anymore are interested in getting an education with the express purpose of learning stuff for the sake of learning stuff. Everything now is career oriented, which leaves many of us on the outside looking in because nobody is interested in hiring people with wrinkles and gray hair. Except for the Census Bureau. They’ll hire anybody who can demonstrate the ability to hold a clipboard.
I’ve explored many of the opportunities in the world of online education. There are many courses that include the word “repair” in the title: Auto, Computer, Small Appliance, Furniture, et cetera. I am mechanically disinclined and therefore excluded from rebuilding so much as a toaster. Besides, who repairs stuff anymore? Something breaks, throw it out and buy a new one. Planned obsolescence is the American way.
Some of the online universities offer degree programs in subjects that involve bodily fluids. Personally, I want all of my medical caregivers to have hands-on learning. If a medic were to admit to being a graduate of the College of Online Nursing and Flight Training, I’m going to request a replacement. Same holds true for a pilot.
Recently, I found a degree program I can wrap my brain around. Offered online by Fred’s Off-Shore Graduate School of Applied Political Management, the school, which even has an online fantasy college football team, offers a Ph.D. program in “Strategic Public Relations, Asocial Behavior, Polemics, and Other Things Pertinent (or not) to the Body Politic.”
Graduates from the program are practically guaranteed employment in even-numbered years as highly paid political consultants. These are prestigious positions of political power and whimsical alliteration in which volunteer campaign workers call you “Doctor.” The job is to carry an expensive briefcase and consult candidates and contributors in political double-speak.
Here are some of the courses Fred offers in this doctoral degree program.
Dress for Success This video-based course demonstrates how graduates working on Republican campaigns dress in expensive tailored suits and wear power ties, while those working for Democrats look like they slept in their off-the-rack polyester suits from Sears.
Political Statistics Professor Darrel Huff, a journalist who wrote How to Lie with Statistics in 1954, teaches how polls can be manipulated to mean whatever you want them to mean without regard to actual numbers. It teaches that “correlation does not imply causation,” while reminding students that “random sampling” is a myth. The class is subtitled “Keeping the Candidate in the Dark, Yet Satisfied.”
Blind Faith: Religion and Politics The Most Wealthy and Charismatic Reverend Joel Osteen, of the non-denominational-yet-oddly-evangelical Lakewood Church in Houston, teaches the fine art of lying while posing convincingly as a Christian. Morality—or lack thereof—provides the subtext to this stimulating study of contradictions of fact and promise. Students learn that no candidate can present as an Atheist or even an Agnostic, because non-believers and doubting-Thomases are more of a threat to the American dream than any terrorist cell. A video of candidates shown with and without Bibles offers both contrast and telltale evidence of just how gullible Americans can be. Required reading: The Prince by Machiavelli, who is best known for his observation that “politics have no relation to morals.”
Stars and Stripes Doctoral candidates learn how to consult with their candidates about how to behave if an American flag is waved anywhere near them. A Revolutionary Era analog filmstrip of Betsy Ross sewing the first flag is available for viewing. It features a cameo appearance of George Washington. There is also a video featuring a spirited debate about lapel pins. Suggested reading: U.S.A. by John Dos Passos.
Dirty Tricks Donald Segretti, the Watergate warrior credited with coining the word “ratfucking,” teaches this 400-level course on how to mess with your opponents in the most harmful ways. Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman is the required text. Exercises in third-rate burglaries, wiretapping, and forgery of personal letters and campaign literature are conducted, as are the various methods of applying toilet paper to the houses of perceived political enemies. Says Segretti: “Nickel-and-dime stuff. Stuff. Stuff with a little wit attached to it.” And to think they awarded that idiot a law degree.
Scare Tactics Nothing is more effective than painting a political opponent as somebody who would usher in sharia law, thereby setting the stage for Islamic jihad (not to be confused with Israeli jihad that has mostly to do with different ways to prepare couscous). Since 55 percent of Americans are opposed to the teaching of Arabic numerals in public schools, the odds are that most Americans believe sharia law has underwear policies borrowed from the Mormons, and that Shahadah sang “At the Hop” at Woodstock. Nothing could be further from the truth, as there’s not a single mention of underwear, Mormons or Woodstock in the Koran. Suggested reading: Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth.
Cover-ups Learn how to insist that your candidate be free from scandal and convey that message to the press—despite any pictures with Jeffrey Epstein. Students will participate in a virtual cleaning a closet of skeletons.
Humor in Politics Join the on-going argument that there is nothing funny about politics. Students will learn how to steer candidates to acceptable standards of topical humor and learn how an expressed appreciation of Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and/or George Carlin is not wise, unless running as a Third Party candidate in which case it never mattered anyway. It is appropriate to have “once admired” the work of Bill Cosby. It is advised that a candidate for political office express undying admiration for Will Rogers. Students are encouraged to read Senator Mo Udall’s memoir, Too Funny to be President.
Classes are filling up. Submit some kind of resume along with a $75 processing fee to this website.
Photo illustration by Courtney A. Liska
1# eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 ½# tomatoes, pealed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 c. fresh basil (loosely packed, chopped)
3/4 c. flat-leaf parsley (loosely packed, chopped)
1 1/2 # white onions, thinly sliced
3 bell peppers (red or yellow, cored, seeded, and chopped)
2# zucchini (cut lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices)
2# pounds yellow squash (cut lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch slices)
1/3 c. dry white wine
1-2 Tbs. olive oil
Place cubed eggplant on paper towels and sprinkle generally with salt. Allow the eggplant to sit for 20 minutes.
In a large saucepan, gently cook the tomatoes, garlic, black pepper, basil, and parsley, uncovered, over medium heat. Do not boil.
In a large skillet, sauté the onions and bell peppers in a small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned. Remove from the heat and transfer the browned vegetables to the tomato mixture.
Pat the eggplant dry with a fresh paper towel and add it, along with the zucchini to the tomato mixture.
Cover the pot and cook the stew over low-medium heat for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add the white wine and 3/4 tsp. salt and cook for an additional 5 minutes.