NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Walking Back “America was never that great”

Dear Commons Community,

On Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo walked back his controversial comments about American greatness from earlier in the week, calling them “inartful” and saying he believes the country “has always been great.”  Cuomo faced backlashed from a wide spectrum of political figures especially adversaries such as Donald Trump after saying America “was never that great” while taking a jab at Trump’s campaign slogan during a speech on women’s rights in Manhattan.  Cuomo’s initial comments came on Wednesday, when he tried to make the case that Trump’s campaign slogan — Make America Great Again — suggests bringing the country back to earlier times when discrimination, misogyny and racism were rampant.

During a conference call with reporters Friday, Cuomo dialed it back, saying he does not, in fact, question the country’s greatness. As reported by various media:

“The expression I used the other day was inartful, so I want to be very clear,” Cuomo said. “Of course America is great and of course America has always been great. No one questions that.”

He continued: “As you know, my family is evidence of American greatness. My grandparents came to this country as poor immigrants and their son became governor and his son became governor. That’s never been a question.”

Trump has continued to knock Cuomo for his remark on Wednesday, tweeting three times about it Friday morning alone.

“Big pushback on Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York for his really dumb statement about America’s lack of greatness,” Trump tweeted. “I have already MADE America Great Again, just look at the markets, jobs, military- setting records, and we will do even better. Andrew ‘choked’ badly, mistake!”

What Trump believes is American greatness “is not greatness at all,” said Cuomo, who went on to list a number of issues — abortion rights, immigration policy, Trump’s response to Charlottesville  — where he disagrees with the president. 

“His philosophy is not just repugnant to New York,” Cuomo said. “His philosophy is anti-American. His vision of America isn’t great at all. Taking children from the arms of their mothers is anti-American. Americans don’t believe in family separation.”

My take on this is that as a governor running for office, Cuomo was indeed “inartful” in his comments and they will probably come back to haunt him in the future especially if he seeks national office.  But what he said or meant to say is not entirely inaccurate.  While most people in most countries have great national pride, when looking honestly at their history will see episodes when their countries were not so great. Here in the United States, we can point to our Civil War when because of regional differences and the issue of slavery, more than 620,000 people were killed by their fellow Americans.  We can point to the popularity of the Ku Klux Klan in the early 20th century with its doctrine of hate against blacks, immigrants, Catholics, and Jews.  We can point to the McCarthy era Red Scare tactics in the 1950s.  We can point to the Vietnam War when we sent 58,000 soldiers to their deaths for a conflict we never really understood.  We can point to the Great Recession of 2008 when greed on the part of our financial institutions sent the country into an economic tailspin that caused millions of people to lose their homes and livelihoods.  We can point to our present-day immigration policies that separate young children from their mothers and fathers. On the other hand, we can also point to our country’s significant contributions and finest hours.  Our foundational concepts of democracy and freedom as embodied in the U.S. Constitution while not perfect, are something to be proud of.   We can point to our contributions to victories against Fascism and dictatorships in World War I and World War II.  We can point to accomplishments such as sending men to the moon and developing vaccines against polio and other diseases.  Our country is indeed great but we must also recognized that we have had and will continue to have episodes that are not so great.


NYU School of Medicine to Become Tuition Free!

Dear Commons Community,

New York University made headlines late on Thursday when it announced that it would cover the tuition of all its students, regardless of merit or need, citing concerns about the “overwhelming financial debt” facing graduates.  Tuition at NYU is $55,000. per year. This is a major move by one of the top medical schools in the country.  As reported in the New York Times:

“N.Y.U.’s initiative comes at a time when affordability has become an increasingly urgent issue in higher education, with some graduates struggling with thousands of dollars in debt.

To date, much of the effort has centered on helping undergraduates cover the balance of their tuition bills, including at community colleges in Tennessee, and two- and four-year schools in New York under the new Excelsior Scholarship.

In the field of medicine, schools have become worried that students saddled with steep debt are increasingly pursuing top-paying specialties rather than careers in family medicine, pediatrics and research. So it was big news in December when Columbia announced a $250 million gift from Dr. P. Roy Vagelos, an alumnus who is a former chairman of Merck & Co., and his wife, Diana, that would offer students with the greatest financial need full-tuition scholarships, and other students grants, rather than loans.

About 62 percent of N.Y.U.’s School of Medicine graduates leave with some debt; the average debt incurred by members of the class of 2017 was $184,000……

“This decision recognizes a moral imperative that must be addressed, as institutions place an increasing debt burden on young people who aspire to become physicians,” said Robert I. Grossman, dean of the medical school and chief executive officer of N.Y.U. Langone Health.

N.Y.U. said that it had raised more than $450 million of the $600 million that it anticipates will be necessary to finance the tuition plan. About $100 million of that has been contributed by Kenneth G. Langone, the founder of Home Depot, and his wife, Elaine, for whom the medical school is named.

To date, only a handful of institutions have tried to make medical education tuition-free, according to Julie Fresne, senior director of student financial services of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit organization that represents medical schools.

At UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine, a $100 million fund announced several years ago pays for the entire cost of medical school for all four years, including tuition, fees, books and living expenses for roughly 20 percent of its students. But that program is based on merit, not need.

Meanwhile, a small medical school affiliated with Case Western Reserve University at the Cleveland Clinic covers the tuition and fees for its five-year program focusing on research.

Most of the roughly 20,000 students per year enrolled in American medical schools take out sizable federal loans to support their studies. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2017, the median debt for graduating medical students was $192,000. The median cost of medical school attendance, including living expenses, was $60,945 a year for public medical school and $82,278 for private medical school.”

Congratulations to NYU and thank you to Kenneth and Elaine Langone for their generosity.


University of Akron to Phase Out 80 Degree Programs!

Dear Commons Community,

On Wednesday, the University of Akron announced that it will phase out 80 degree programs, about 20 percent of what it now offers.  It also announced it will hire 31 new faculty in programs in polymer science, biosciences, and cybersecurity.  As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

“The cuts come after a yearlong review of Akron’s degrees and degree tracks. Among the university’s strengths are nursing, biosciences, engineering, dance, and music, Akron’s Board of Trustees said in a statement. The 10 Ph.D. programs, 33 master’s programs, 20 bachelor’s programs, and 17 associate-degree programs that will be phased out suffered low enrollment or were duplicates of prosperous programs at other, similar institutions.

The process will take a few years, and will free up about $6 million for reallocation, Alex Knisely, a university spokesman, said in an email. There’s no plan to terminate any faculty or staff members because of the program cuts, the statement said. Akron also wants to hire 31 full-time faculty members in those programs identified as priorities, the statement said.

As the university ends what it deems unpopular degrees, it is leaning into a current trend on college campuses: competitive video gaming, known as esports. On Thursday, Akron announced that it would open three new facilities to accommodate varsity, club, and recreational gamers. The university said the centers would represent “the largest amount of dedicated esports space of any university in the world to date.”

How priorities change in higher education!


Vatican Responds to Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report about Sexual Abuse of Children and Black Wall of Silence!

Dear Commons Community,

The Vatican issued a statement and expressed “shame and sorrow” yesterday about the  Pennsylvania grand jury report that said clergy raped and molested children in six dioceses.  The statement said that the abuse was “criminally and morally reprehensible.”  As reported by the Los Angeles Times:

“In uncharacteristically strong language for the Vatican even in matters such as the long-running abuse scandals staining the U.S. church, spokesman Greg Burke said in a statement that victims should know “the pope is on their side.”    Burke described the abuse in the report as “betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith.”


“The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur,” he said.

Francis had recently accepted the resignation from cardinal’s rank of former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexual abuse. It was the first time a prelate had lost his cardinal’s rank in a sexual abuse scandal, and Francis was stepping up his crackdown to include some of the highest-ranking churchmen.

Burke said Francis “understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers, and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society.”

I am not sure if this statement is enough for many Catholics.  It is bad enough that the grand jury report  identified more than 300 priests guilty of the abuse but what about all of the other priests in the Catholic Church who must have known of these cases.  There had to be fellow priests, pastors, bishops and other high-ranking administrators in the Catholic hierarchy in Pennsylvania and elsewhere who knew about the abuse and who said nothing and instead swept the issue under the rug  leaving the abusers to continue to prey on young people. 

This situation has surely rocked the foundations of Catholicism in this country.  Police departments are known for having a “blue wall of silence” when it comes to protecting rogue cops.  The Catholic church has a “black wall.”



President Trump Revoked John Brennan’s Security Clearance Yesterday – Brennan Fights Back!

Dear Commons Community,

President Donald Trump revoked yesterday the security clearance of John Brennan, former CIA Director and outspoken critic of the Trump presidency.  Brennan gave a scathing response to Trump’s action in an op-ed in the New York Times.  Here is a recap, courtesy of CNBC.

“President Donald Trump cited the ongoing probe into Russia’s attack on U.S. elections in 2016 as a reason he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent critic of the president.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump made a more direct connection between his action against Brennan and the investigation than he had in a statement released Wednesday. He told the newspaper he believes Brennan is one of the people responsible for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

“I think that whole – I call it the rigged witch hunt – is a sham,” Trump told the Journal on Wednesday. “And these people led it!”

“So I think it’s something that had to be done,” he added, referring to his revocation of Brennan’s clearance.

Trump also told the Journal the investigation is “so badly discredited” but stressed that he isn’t a target of Mueller’s team.

“You know, in theory I’m not under investigation,” the president told the newspaper. “I’m not a target.”

Trump has repeatedly denied colluding with Russia to sway the election.

The president’s originally stated rationale for revoking Brennan’s clearance, in a statement at dated July 26 despite being released Wedmesday, cited “erratic conduct and behavior” from the former CIA boss. (Trump told the Journal he was prepared to announce his decision on Brennan during his vacation last week, but that it was too “hectic.”)

The president also accused Brennan of lying about intelligence community conclusions about the 2016 election and purported surveillance of congressional staffers.

Brennan swiftly condemned Trump’s decision, saying the president was “trying to get back at me” for intense criticism.

“I think Mr. Trump is getting more and more concerned, more and more desperate and I would say more and more frightened, as there is closer and closer magnification of some of the things that those around him have been involved in,” Brennan told MSNBC on Wednesday afternoon. “So I do think it’s important that I continue to speak out.”

He continued his onslaught against Trump on Thursday with an op-ed in The New York Times. “Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash,” he wrote.

Brennan, who served as President Barack Obama’s CIA director from 2013 to 2017, is one of the highest-profile and most caustic critics of Trump. He was one of the national security officials who briefed Trump on Russia’s attacks on the 2016 election before his inauguration in January 2017. The officials showed Trump highly classified evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin had personally ordered the cyber warfare, the Times reported.”

We have not heard the last of this at least not from John Brennan.


New Book: Online Education:  Foundations, Planning, and Pedagogy!

Dear Commons Community,

My latest book, Online Education:  Foundations, Planning, and Pedagogy  has just been published by Routledge/Taylor & Francis.  Online Education…  is an exploration of blended and fully online teaching platforms, addressing history, theory, research, planning, and practice. As colleges, universities, and schools around the world adopt large-scale technologies and traditional class models shift into seamless, digitally interactive environments, critical insights are needed into the implications for administration and pedagogy. In this book, I examine the past and present before analyzing its fundamental changes to instruction, program integration, social interaction, content construction, networked media, policy, and more. A provocative concluding chapter speculates on the future of education as the sector becomes increasingly dependent on learning technologies. It is available at:  

Routledge/Taylor & Francis:  https://www.routledge.com/Online-Education-Foundations-Planning-and-Pedagogy/Picciano/p/book/9780415784139

Amazon.Com: https://www.amazon.com/Online-Education-Foundations-Planning-Pedagogy/dp/0415784131/ref=mt_paperback?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1534407318

Barnes and Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/online-education-anthony-g-picciano/1128128398?ean=9780415784139

Below is an excerpt from the Preface.  




In the 1950s, I attended elementary school in the South Bronx, New York City. The technol­ogy I used in kindergarten through second grade was a pencil as I learned to print the letters of the alphabet. In third grade I was taught cursive and midway through the year I was required to use a fountain pen. We were not allowed to use a ballpoint pen. My teachers also insisted that we use Waterman’s washable blue ink in case we spilled any on our clothes. The only other technologies I used in elementary school were a twelve-inch ruler and a box of Crayola crayons that cost ten cents, had eight colors and came in a familiar yellow and green box. I never had a science class in my nine years (K–8) of elementary school. The only science I ever experienced in my young years occurred during visits to the Museum of Natural History, the Hayden Planetarium, the Bronx Zoo, and through science fiction movies in the local theaters. Among my favorite movies were the Flash Gordon serials that were rerun on Saturday morn­ings, generally in the winter months.

In 1980, I bought my eleven-year old son, Michael, a Radio Shack Color Computer. This was one of the very early and successful personal computers. It did not come with a screen (we had to hook it up to an old television) and there was practically no software for it except a BASIC (Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) interpreter. I taught Michael BASIC and after a while he was able to write rudimentary programs, mostly involving simple computations. A year later, Michael and one of his friends, Tommy, wrote a fairly sophisticated program (for the time) for a science fair. The program simulated the solar system with photos and facts about each planet. It was the only computer-based project in the fair. I was proud of what Michael and Tommy had achieved and the project won an award.

In 2017, I visited my daughter Dawn Marie and her family in Poulsbo, Washington. She has two children, twelve-year old Michael Anthony and ten-year old Ali. They showed me the Chromebooks that all students receive free of charge from their Klahowya School in the Central Kitsap School District 401. Their Chromebooks are connected to the cloud-based platform PowerSchool that provides them with a variety of instructional services including all of their textbooks as well as supplementary curricula material that teachers and students can use in class, at home, or on the school bus. In addition to basic software such as Google.docs and ClassLink, the Chromebook provides access to a host of instructional packages such as Imagine Learning for language arts, Renaissance for reading, and the Destiny Library Catalog. The Chromebook also allows parents and the children access to all grades and assessments. Another major benefit is that students can collaborate easily with one another on group projects. The Chromebook also comes with screening software so that the children can only use it for instructional activi­ties. If you think the Klahowya School is unique, my two granddaughters, Isabella and Gracie, who attend school in Mahopac, New York, also use Chromebooks. In fact, it is estimated that more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students—more than 30 million children—use Google education applications (Singer, 2017). I mention these three vignettes to demonstrate how our schools have advanced incredibly in their use of technology in teaching and learning. From no technology in my generation, to a novelty in my son’s generation, to becoming an essential part of the learning experience in my grandchildren’s generation. Just imagine what my great grandchildren will be doing in the not too distant future.

I hope that you will find this book helpful as you consider the issues involving online educa­tion… Quality instruction must be at the top of our priorities in the online environment as well as in the face-to-face classroom, and student success must be maintained as the foremost goal regardless of modality. I enjoyed working on this book because one learns so much when trying to share knowledge with others using the written word. I sincerely hope that this book lives up to your expectations and wish you much success in your endeavors.


Singer, N. (2017, May 13). How Google took over the classroom. New York Times. Retrieved December 21,2017 from: www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html


Grand Jury Report:  Catholic Priests Sexually Abused More than 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania!

Dear Commons Community,

Over the past several decades, we have heard and seen instances over and over again of Catholic priests preying on innocent youngsters.  However, a report issued yesterday by a Pennsylvania grand jury reveals that over 1,000 victims were sexually abused by more than 300 priests over a 70-year period.  The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.  As reported in the New York Times:

“Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.

It catalogs horrific instances of abuse: a priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out; a victim tied up and whipped with leather straps by a priest; and another priest who was allowed to stay in ministry after impregnating a young girl and arranging for her to have an abortion.

The sexual abuse scandal has shaken the Catholic Church for more than 15 years, ever since explosive allegations emerged out of Boston in 2002. But even after paying billions of dollars in settlements and adding new prevention programs, the church has been dogged by a scandal that is now reaching its highest ranks. The Pennsylvania report comes soon after the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, who is accused of sexually abusing young priests and seminarians, as well as minors.

 “Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”

The grand jury said that while some accused priests were removed from ministry, the church officials who protected them remained in office or even got promotions. One bishop named in the report as vouching for an abusive priest was Cardinal Donald Wuerl, now the archbishop of Washington. “Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic

The report is unlikely to lead to new criminal charges or civil lawsuits under the current law because the statute of limitations has expired. Only two of the cases in the report so far have led to criminal charges.

In statements released on Tuesday, Pennsylvania’s Catholic bishops called for prayers for victims and for the church, promised greater openness and said that measures instituted in recent years were already making the church safer.”

The abuse is bad enough but the cover-up is totally inexcusable.




Michelle Goldberg: “Omarosa is an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit.”

Dear Commons Community,

Omarosa Manigault Newman has soared into the news media sphere in the past few days as she promotes her book,   Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,  which is to be published today.    In listening to her interviews on the major news outlets, I just kept shaking my head in disbelief. However, I also thought that there were at least slivers of truth in what she was saying.  Michelle Goldberg, in her column for the New York Times puts this story in a more interesting light and that Omarosa is “an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit.”  Goldberg concludes her analysis:

“In the end, you don’t have to trust her sincerity to see  Unhinged..  as a serious indictment of Trump. Either she is telling the truth when she calls Trump “a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist” in serious mental decline, or the Trump campaign’s former director of African-American outreach, a woman frequently called upon to testify to Trump’s lack of racism, is a lying con artist. No matter how little credibility Manigault Newman has, the man who gave her a top-ranking job in his administration has less.”

Below is the entire column.



Welcome to the Resistance, Omarosa!

By Michelle Goldberg

Omarosa Manigault Newman, the reality show villain who campaigned for Donald Trump and followed him into the White House, is an amoral, dishonest, mercenary grifter. This makes her just like most people in Trump’s orbit. What separates her from them is that she might be capable of a sliver of shame.

Naturally, Manigault Newman’s new book, “Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House,” is self-serving, a way to avenge her 2017 firing and make money telling us what we already know about this wretched administration. Nevertheless, she had other options for cashing in. She has revealed that she was offered a $15,000-a-month position on the Trump re-election campaign in exchange for keeping her mouth shut. She could have had a career in right-wing media; an African-American celebrity willing to say that the Republican Party isn’t racist will always find patrons.

Instead, she chose to speak out against the man who made her a star, and repent for her complicity in electing him. She may be a manipulative narcissist, but she’s behaving more honorably than any other former Trump appointee.

That’s not a high bar, and I wouldn’t take most of the claims of “Unhinged” at face value. But we don’t have to, because Manigault Newman has receipts. When I got a prepublication copy of the book on Friday, I wasn’t sure what to think of the scene in which Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, fires her, making thuggish threats to destroy her reputation if she doesn’t go quietly. On Sunday, “Meet the Press” played her recording of the exchange, which unfolds exactly as she described.

Similarly, I didn’t quite trust her account of the post-firing phone call she received from Trump, in which the president expressed surprise and dismay that she has been let go. “No one even told me,” she quotes him saying, adding, “I don’t love you leaving at all.” But on Monday, the “Today” show played Manigault Newman’s recording of this exchange. And that $15,000-a-month contract? You can read it yourself in The Washington Post.

Of course, just because Manigault Newman is telling the truth about some things doesn’t prove that she’s telling the truth about everything, including the alleged existence of outtakes from “The Apprentice” in which Trump uses racial slurs. “Unhinged” has lots of evidence-free gossip, including speculation that Trump was sleeping with Paula White, the pretty blond prosperity-gospel preacher who gave the invocation at his inauguration. My opinion of Trump could scarcely be lower, but I won’t be convinced that he floated the idea of being sworn in on “The Art of the Deal” instead of the Bible, as Manigault Newman claims, until I hear it myself. (Lordy, I hope there are tapes.)

Still, there’s no question she has useful knowledge of our ruling clique. Perhaps the most interesting thing about “Unhinged” is its insights into how Manigault Newman, a former Democrat who’d worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, rationalized being part of Trump’s white nationalist campaign. I’ve always been mystified by how the president’s enablers, who understand his venality and incompetence, justify their behavior to themselves. (Even most bad people want to believe that they’re good.) Manigault Newman is an unreliable narrator, but her book is still the best account we have of how the Trump cult — a term she uses repeatedly — looks from the inside.

Her version of her own motivations is probably sugarcoated, but it still isn’t pretty. She’d been part of a pro-Hillary Clinton “super PAC” and was bitter that she didn’t get a job on Clinton’s campaign. Meanwhile, Manigault Newman, who grew up in poverty, knew she owed her cherished celebrity to Trump. (As she points out, he likes to surround himself with fame-worshiping people whose fortunes depend on him.) “The Trump team, unlike HRC, was true to its word and had officially brought me on board as a senior adviser and director,” she writes. “Regardless of whether Mr. Trump was being taken seriously, I was.”

She suppressed whatever unease she felt about selling out by trying to convince herself that she was representing African-American interests in the campaign and administration. Manigault Newman did graduate work at Howard, the revered historically black university. She had roots in African-American Democratic politics. When she switched sides to back Trump, the disgust of old friends and colleagues hurt. Throughout “Unhinged,” you sense her trying to explain herself to them.

Studies have shown that the people who are most likely to leave cults are those who maintain intimate links to people outside them. Manigault Newman,  who last year married a pastor who campaigned for Hillary Clinton, could never fully sever ties with Trump critics.

In the end, you don’t have to trust her sincerity to see “Unhinged” as a serious indictment of Trump. Either she is telling the truth when she calls Trump “a racist, a bigot, and a misogynist” in serious mental decline, or the Trump campaign’s former director of African-American outreach, a woman frequently called upon to testify to Trump’s lack of racism, is a lying con artist. No matter how little credibility Manigault Newman has, the man who gave her a top-ranking job in his administration has less.


Pulitizer Prize Winning Reporter Michael D’Antonio and Trump’s Giant Swirling Vortex of Disgrace!

Dear Commons Community,

Last month, Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Michael D’Antonio commented about Rudy Giuliani’s pathetic defense of Donald Trump and his various legal problems.  D’Antonio referred to Giuliani as having been sucked into Trump’s “giant swirling vortex of disgrace.”   Yesterday, Giuliani during an interview with Jake Tapper again was caught lying regarding Donald Trump’s meeting with former F.B.I. director James Comey.  As reported by CNN:

“President Donald Trump‘s lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted on CNN that his client never told former FBI director James Comey to give Michael Flynn a break. Jake Tapper then aired a video of Giuliani claiming the opposite in an interview from last month.

The State of the Union anchor first asked Giuliani about his own claims last month, the former New York lawyer rejected the question.

“I never told ABC that,” he said. “That’s crazy. I never said that. What I said was, that is what Comey is saying Trump said. I have always said the president denies it. It would be easier for me if the president did say that.”

Giuliani continued to insist that he hadn’t said Trump told Comey to go easy on Flynn, the former National Security Adviser.

Tapper moved on to other questions, but eventually returned to the Comey question once his producers set up a clip of Giuliani’s claims, made in an ABC News interview.

“I just want to play for you, because earlier in the interview I was talking about a comment you made to ABC News a month ago about what exactly President Trump said to Comey,” Tapper said. “You’re now saying that the president tells you that he said nothing.”

“I’ve been saying this from the beginning,” Giuliani said. “I’m talking about Comey’s rendition.”

Tapper played the ABC News clip, in which Giuliani said Trump asked Comey “can you give him a break,” with regards to Flynn.

“I said it but also said before it I’m talking about their investigation of it,” Giuliani replied awkwardly, before claiming he was “arguing in the alternative.”

Giuliani keeps getting sucked deeper into the vortex.


Rallies by White Nationalists Fizzle in Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville!

Dear Commons Community,

The media was abuzz all last week about the rallies and demonstrations that would take place in Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday on the one-year anniversary of the bloody confrontation in Charlottesville.  White supremacist groups asked for permits as did counter-protesters, but the white supremacists hardly turned out. As reported by the New York Times:

“After weeks of hype, white supremacists managed to muster just a couple of dozen supporters on Sunday in the nation’s capital for the first anniversary of their deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., finding themselves greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters, police officers and representatives of the news media.

But even with the low turnout, almost no one walked away with the sense that the nation’s divisions were any closer to healing.

Indeed, the streets of downtown Washington were charged on Sunday with tension, emotion and noise, particularly in the afternoon, as the right-wing agitator Jason Kessler and perhaps 20 fellow members of the far right — some wearing bright red “Make America Great Again” hats, some draped in American flags — marched under heavy police escort from the Metro station in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood to their barricaded and heavily protected rally area near the White House.

They were surrounded by a vast, rolling plume of counter-protesters, who hurled insults, waved middle fingers and chanted “Shame!”

 “You killed a girl in Charlottesville!” one voice in the crowd yelled, referring to Heather Heyer, a woman who was fatally injured when a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters a year ago.

A similar dynamic to the one in Washington played out in Charlottesville on Sunday, where few if any far-right demonstrators could be found, and where the most palpable tensions developed between left-wing protesters and the police, whose presence in the city was heavy and, some argued, heavy-handed.

“The problem is, the only opposition is the police,” said Pastor Robert Lewis of the Hinton Avenue United Methodist Church, as he and a group of religious representatives stood facing rows of officers in an effort to form what he called a buffer between them and the protesters.

Only a handful of arrests were reported in Charlottesville on Sunday, including a man and a woman who got into a fistfight after the man saluted the town’s statue of Robert E. Lee. By early evening, the security cordon around the downtown area had been lifted, hours ahead of schedule.”

I would like to think that the poor turnout indicates a waning of interest on the part of the white supremacist hate groups but I don’t think so.  It is more an indication of their cowardice.