Draft of John Bolton’s new book is leaked:  It describes details of how Trump tied Ukraine aid to investigating the Bidens!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman and Michael Schmidt are reporting this morning that in dozens of pages, John Bolton describes in detail how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He describes not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to evade involvement.

The article (in its entirety below) states that “Mr. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents. “It is clear, regrettably, from the New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said Sunday night.

He said he provided a copy of the book to the White House on Dec. 30 — 12 days after Mr. Trump was impeached — to be reviewed for classified information, though, he said, Mr. Bolton believed it contained none.”

It will be interesting to see how Bolton’s disclosure plays out during the Senate impeachment trial set to resume today.




New York Times

Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says

Drafts of the book outline the potential testimony of the former national security adviser if he were called as a witness in the president’s impeachment trial.

By Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt

Jan. 26, 2020

  • · ·  WASHINGTON — President Trump told his national security adviser in August that he wanted to continue freezing $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine until officials there helped with investigations into Democrats including the Bidens, according to an unpublished manuscript by the former adviser, John R. Bolton.

The president’s statement as described by Mr. Bolton could undercut a key element of his impeachment defense: that the holdup in aid was separate from Mr. Trump’s requests that Ukraine announce investigations into his perceived enemies, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, who had worked for a Ukrainian energy firm while his father was in office.

Mr. Bolton’s explosive account of the matter at the center of Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial, the third in American history, was included in drafts of a manuscript he has circulated in recent weeks to close associates. He also sent a draft to the White House for a standard review process for some current and former administration officials who write books.

Multiple people described Mr. Bolton’s account of the Ukraine affair.

The book presents an outline of what Mr. Bolton might testify to if he is called as a witness in the Senate impeachment trial, the people said. The White House could use the pre-publication review process, which has no set time frame, to delay or even kill the book’s publication or omit key passages.

Over dozens of pages, Mr. Bolton described how the Ukraine affair unfolded over several months until he departed the White House in September. He described not only the president’s private disparagement of Ukraine but also new details about senior cabinet officials who have publicly tried to sidestep involvement.

For example, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo acknowledged privately that there was no basis to claims by the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani that the ambassador to Ukraine was corrupt and believed Mr. Giuliani may have been acting on behalf of other clients, Mr. Bolton wrote.

Mr. Bolton also said that after the president’s July phone call with the president of Ukraine, he raised with Attorney General William P. Barr his concerns about Mr. Giuliani, who was pursuing a shadow Ukraine policy encouraged by the president, and told Mr. Barr that the president had mentioned him on the call. A spokeswoman for Mr. Barr denied that he learned of the call from Mr. Bolton; the Justice Department has said he learned about it only in mid-August.

And the acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, was present for at least one phone call where the president and Mr. Giuliani discussed the ambassador, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Mulvaney has told associates he would always step away when the president spoke with his lawyer to protect their attorney-client privilege.

During a previously reported May 23 meeting where top advisers and Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, briefed him about their trip to Kyiv for the inauguration of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr. Trump railed about Ukraine trying to damage him and mentioned a conspiracy theory about a hacked Democratic server, according to Mr. Bolton.

The White House did not provide responses to questions about Mr. Bolton’s assertions, and representatives for Mr. Johnson, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney did not respond to emails and calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.

Mr. Bolton’s lawyer blamed the White House for the disclosure of the book’s contents. “It is clear, regrettably, from the New York Times article published today that the pre-publication review process has been corrupted and that information has been disclosed by persons other than those properly involved in reviewing the manuscript,” the lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, said Sunday night.

He said he provided a copy of the book to the White House on Dec. 30 — 12 days after Mr. Trump was impeached — to be reviewed for classified information, though, he said, Mr. Bolton believed it contained none.

The submission to the White House may have given Mr. Trump’s aides and lawyers direct insight into what Mr. Bolton would say if he were called to testify at Mr. Trump’s impeachment trial. It also intensified concerns among some of his advisers that they needed to block Mr. Bolton from testifying, according to two people familiar with their concerns.

The White House has ordered Mr. Bolton and other key officials with firsthand knowledge of Mr. Trump’s dealings not to cooperate with the impeachment inquiry. Mr. Bolton said in a statement this month that he would testify if subpoenaed.

In recent days, some White House officials have described Mr. Bolton as a disgruntled former employee, and have said he took notes that he should have left behind when he departed the administration.

Mr. Trump told reporters last week that he did not want Mr. Bolton to testify and said that even if he simply spoke out publicly, he could damage national security.

“The problem with John is it’s a national security problem,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “He knows some of my thoughts. He knows what I think about leaders. What happens if he reveals what I think about a certain leader and it’s not very positive?”

“It’s going to make the job very hard,” he added.

The Senate impeachment trial could end as early as Friday without witness testimony. Democrats in both the House and Senate have pressed for weeks to include any new witnesses and documents that did not surface during the House impeachment hearings to be fair, focusing on persuading the handful of Republican senators they would need to join them to succeed.

But a week into the trial, most lawmakers say the chances of 51 senators agreeing to call witnesses are dwindling, not growing.

Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, said the Bolton manuscript underscored the need for him to testify, and the House impeachment managers demanded after this article was published that the Senate vote to call him. “There can be no doubt now that Mr. Bolton directly contradicts the heart of the president’s defense,” they said in a statement.

Republicans, though, were mostly silent; a spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, declined to comment.

Mr. Bolton would like to testify for several reasons, according to associates. He believes he has relevant information, and he has also expressed concern that if his account of the Ukraine affair emerges only after the trial, he will be accused of holding back to increase his book sales.

Mr. Bolton, 71, a fixture in conservative national security circles since his days in the Reagan administration, joined the White House in 2018 after several people recommended him to the president, including the Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson.

But Mr. Bolton and Mr. Trump soured on each other over several global crises, including Iranian aggression, Mr. Trump’s posture toward Russia and, ultimately, the Ukraine matter. Mr. Bolton was also often at odds with Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mulvaney throughout his time in the administration.

Key to Mr. Bolton’s account about Ukraine is an exchange during a meeting in August with the president after Mr. Trump returned from vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. Mr. Bolton raised the $391 million in congressionally appropriated assistance to Ukraine for its war in the country’s east against Russian-backed separatists. Officials had frozen the aid, and a deadline was looming to begin sending it to Kyiv, Mr. Bolton noted.

He, Mr. Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper had collectively pressed the president about releasing the aid nearly a dozen times in the preceding weeks after lower-level officials who worked on Ukraine issues began complaining about the holdup, Mr. Bolton wrote. Mr. Trump had effectively rebuffed them, airing his longstanding grievances about Ukraine, which mixed legitimate efforts by some Ukrainians to back his Democratic 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, with unsupported accusations and outright conspiracy theories about the country, a key American ally.

Mr. Giuliani had also spent months stoking the president’s paranoia about the American ambassador to Ukraine at the time, Marie L. Yovanovitch, claiming that she was openly anti-Trump and needed to be dismissed. Mr. Trump had ordered her removed as early as April 2018 during a private dinner with two Giuliani associates and others, a recording of the conversation made public on Saturday showed.

In his August 2019 discussion with Mr. Bolton, the president appeared focused on the theories Mr. Giuliani had shared with him, replying to Mr. Bolton’s question that he preferred sending no assistance to Ukraine until officials had turned over all materials they had about the Russia investigation that related to Mr. Biden and supporters of Mrs. Clinton in Ukraine.

The president often hits at multiple opponents in his harangues, and he frequently lumps together the law enforcement officials who conducted the Russia inquiry with Democrats and other perceived enemies, as he appeared to do in speaking to Mr. Bolton.

Mr. Bolton also described other key moments in the pressure campaign, including Mr. Pompeo’s private acknowledgment to him last spring that Mr. Giuliani’s claims about Ms. Yovanovitch had no basis and that Mr. Giuliani may have wanted her removed because she might have been targeting his clients who had dealings in Ukraine as she sought to fight corruption.

Ms. Yovanovitch, a Canadian immigrant whose parents fled the Soviet Union and Nazis, was a well-regarded career diplomat who was known as a vigorous fighter against corruption in Ukraine. She was abruptly removed last year and told the president had lost trust in her, even though a boss assured her she had “done nothing wrong.”

Mr. Bolton also said he warned White House lawyers that Mr. Giuliani might have been leveraging his work with the president to help his private clients.

At the impeachment trial, Mr. Trump himself had hoped to have his defense call a range of people to testify who had nothing to do with his efforts related to Ukraine, including Hunter Biden, to frame the case around Democrats. But Mr. McConnell repeatedly told the president that witnesses could backfire, and the White House has followed his lead.

Mr. McConnell and other Republicans in the Senate, working in tandem with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, have spent weeks waging their own rhetorical battle to keep their colleagues within the party tent on the question of witnesses, with apparent success. Two of the four Republican senators publicly open to witness votes have sounded notes of skepticism in recent days about the wisdom of having the Senate compel testimony that the House did not get.

Since Mr. Bolton’s statement, White House advisers have floated the possibility that they could go to court to try to obtain a restraining order to stop him from speaking. Such an order would be unprecedented, but any attempt to secure it could succeed in tying up his testimony in legal limbo and scaring off Republican moderates wary of letting the trial drag on when its outcome appears clear.


Basketball Great Kobe Bryant killed in helicopter crash in Calabasas, California!

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to reports of a helicopter that crashed into a hillside and caught fire, NBC Los Angeles reported. The crash was called in at 9:47 a.m. local time, per the report, and flames that spread a quarter acre were put out by 10:30. The fire department reported no survivors.

The helicopter, a Sikorsky S-76, crashed under unknown circumstances according to the Federal Aviation Administration. An investigation is ongoing. CNN’s transportation expert said the flight data shows the helicopter tightly circling downtown Los Angeles before heading out to Calabasas.

There have been many tributes for Bryant.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti might have summed up his contributions best.

“Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skill on the court — and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved. He will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles, and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes. This is a moment that leaves us struggling to find words that express the magnitude of shock and sorrow we are all feeling right now, and I am keeping Kobe’s entire family in my prayers at this time of unimaginable grief.”Mayor Eric Garcetti

May he rest in peace!


Maureen Dowd on the Trump Impeachment Trial:  “…the more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more depressing the reality becomes.”

Dear Commons Community,

If you are like most Americans, you are not watching too much of the Senate impeachment trial. It does not have much drama and the ending is known that the Senate will acquit Trump of any wrong-doing.  New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd, reviews the week’s proceedings and sees that while Democrats have made a detailed, coherent case against Trump, the Republicans are lockstep behind Mitch McConnell and will acquit Trump.  She comments:

“I went to the press gallery one afternoon to check out the tableau vivant. The visitors’ gallery was only half full, and there was none of the passion and titillation that infused the Clinton impeachment, which also, oddly enough, revolved around a power disparity between two people.One Democratic Senate staffer mourned the apathy. “Our phones aren’t ringing,” he told me. “Nobody cares. It’s the saddest thing ever.”

The Republican side of the room seemed to be smirking….

…But the more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more depressing the reality becomes. They want to convince themselves that character matters. But many Americans knew they were voting for a thug. They wanted a thug who would bust up Washington, and they got one.

The Democrats are relying on facts, but the Republicans are relying on Fox.”

Sad but true!

Below is the entire column!




Notorious D.J.T. on Trial

Fidget spinners and spinning Republicans make the best of a bad case for Donald John Trump.

By Maureen Dowd

Republicans know very well who they are.

That’s why it was such a juicy moment when Hakeem Jeffries, the congressman from Brooklyn and Democratic impeachment manager, quoted a lyric by fellow B-town native son Biggie Smalls to rebut Jay Sekulow when the president’s lawyer disingenuously wondered, “Why are we here?”

Referring to the Democrats’ crystal-clear case that Donald Trump abused his power and corrupted the highest office in the land, Jeffries proclaimed, “And if you don’t know, now you know.

I went to the press gallery one afternoon to check out the tableau vivant. The visitors’ gallery was only half full, and there was none of the passion and titillation that infused the Clinton impeachment, which also, oddly enough, revolved around a power disparity between two people.

One Democratic Senate staffer mourned the apathy. “Our phones aren’t ringing,” he told me. “Nobody cares. It’s the saddest thing ever.”

One side of the room seemed to be smirking.

Mitch McConnell is resorting to his Merrick Garland playbook. He’ll let the Democrats make all their noble points, but it’s Kabuki. Republicans have perfected the dark art of “There’s nothing to see here, just keep moving.” McConnell long ago choreographed the end, with Democrats losing the argument and the acquitted scoundrel triumphantly sweeping into the Capitol to make his State of the Union address.

At night, tipsy Republican staffers treated Senate office buildings as a pub crawl, roaming the halls with celebratory bottles of wine.

Some Republicans were paying attention at the trial — or wanted to be seen paying attention. Susan Collins was glued to the proceedings, as was the senator to her left in a magma-colored shawl, Lisa Murkowski. Republicans like Collins who are vulnerable in 2020 have to be alert and figure out how to find their way out of the hearings without doing more political harm. A Trump confidant told CBS News that Republican senators were warned, “Vote against the president and your head will be on a pike.”

Seated at the back of the class, Mitt Romney looked dutiful, and the thought must have crossed his mind that’s he’s in a position to inflict payback on Trump for calling him “a pompous ass” and tricking him into an interview for secretary of state only to humiliate him. (Revenge is a dish best served with milk.)

But more senators on the Republican side were telegraphing boredom.

Lindsey Graham yawned and rearranged his yellow pencil and went on walkabouts, later telling reporters, “About the fourth time you tell me the same thing is twice too much.” He cleaved to his lap-dog role, saying preposterously of Trump: “What he wants to do is get to the truth.”

Tom Cotton played with the fidget spinner Richard Burr had handed out to all the Republicans. Marsha Blackburn and others left to trash the proceedings on Fox News.

The senators in the Democratic presidential race could not have been happy to be stuck there, either. Bernie Sanders, accustomed to making like Leonard Bernstein at big rallies and upset he’s not in Iowa to relish his surge, had a hard time keeping his hands still, moving them restlessly, silently clapping, and finally holding them together on his chest over his blue sweater.

But heads on both sides did snap to attention whenever that unholy, jangly, self-impeaching peal, so inescapable in the last three years, rang out in the hallowed chamber. Trump’s voice was impossible to ignore when the House impeachment managers played incriminating video clips of the human fidget spinner himself, sometimes howling over the blades of his chopper on the South Lawn.

So many people in this very room had tried and failed, or are now trying, to vanquish the guy. Romney, Cruz, Rubio, Graham, Klobuchar, Sanders, Bennet, Booker, Gillibrand, Warren, Harris. Trump had savaged all his fellow Republicans and yet here they were listening to an unending recitation of his crimes and coming out to be his Praetorian guard.

Adam Schiff tried to warn the former nemeses turned defenders of Trump that if the president is not removed, he could turn on them the way he had turned on Marie Yovanovitch and Joe Biden, using the power of the presidency to cheat, lie and smear. (Now Rudy’s buddy Lev Parnas says he has forked over to congressional Democrats a 2018 recording of Trump personally ordering Yovanovitch to be fired.)

“The next time, it just may be you,” Schiff told the Republican senators. “Do you think he wouldn’t ask you to be investigated? Do you think for a moment that he wouldn’t?”

Schiff also reminded Republicans that Trump had inverted their dogma, embracing the Evil Empire and authoritarianism and trusting Crazy Rudy’s conspiracy theories over his own intelligence services.

“You don’t realize how important character is in the highest office in the land until you don’t have it,” Schiff said.

But the more impressive the Democrats’ case is, the more depressing the reality becomes. They want to convince themselves that character matters. But many Americans knew they were voting for a thug. They wanted a thug who would bust up Washington, and they got one.

The Democrats are relying on facts, but the Republicans are relying on Fox.

And if you don’t know, now you know.


Trump was captured on tape demanding the firing of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch!


Dear Commons Community,

President Donald Trump was captured on tape (listen above) at an April 2018 dinner with Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman demanding the firing of Marie Yovanovitch, who was then the US Ambassador to Ukraine. It is significant for a number of reasons especially since the Trump has said that he doesn’t know Lev Parnas who was arrested on campaign finance charges.  Parnas is a close associate of Rudy Giulani both of whom are at the center of the Ukraine impeachment scandal. The audio of the tape above was aired on CNN’s Don Lemon show last night and includes commentary by Lemon and his guests. 


34 U.S. Troops Diagnosed With Traumatic Brain Injuries After Missile Strike: Trump Said They Only Had “Headaches”

Dear Commons Community,

The Pentagon said yesterday that 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries suffered in this month’s Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base, and that half of the troops have returned to their military duties.  As reported by the  Associated Press.

“Seventeen of the 34 are still under medical observation, according to Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman.

President Donald Trump had initially said he was told that no troops had been injured in the Jan. 8 strike. The military said symptoms were not immediately reported after the strike and in some cases became known days later.

After the first reports that some soldiers had been hurt, Trump referred to them as “headaches” and said the cases were not as serious as injuries involving the loss of limbs.

Hoffman’s disclosure that 34 had been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, or TBI, was the first update on the number injured in Iran’s missile attack on Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq since the Pentagon said on Jan. 17 that 11 service members had been flown out of Iraq with concussion-like symptoms.

Hoffman said that of the 34 with TBI, 18 were evacuated from Iraq to U.S. medical facilities in Germany and Kuwait, and 16 stayed in Iraq. Seventeen of the 18 evacuees were sent to Germany, and nine remain there; the other eight have been transported to the United States for continued observation or treatment.

The one American sent to Kuwait has since returned to duty. All 16 of those who were diagnosed with TBI and remained in Iraq have since returned to duty, Hoffman said.

No one was killed in the attack on Ain al-Asad. The strike was launched in retaliation for a U.S. drone missile strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the most powerful military general in Iran, on Jan. 3 at Baghdad International Airport.”

Only headaches!  Trump says anything at anytime with no basis in fact even when it comes to injuries sustained by our service men and women.


Insys Founder, John Kapoor, Gets 5½ Years in Prison in Opioid Kickback Scheme!

John Kapoor, the founder of Insys Therapeutics, center, arriving at federal court in Boston on Thursday.

 John Kapoor

Dear Commons Community,

A federal judge sentenced John Kapoor, the founder of the opioid manufacturer Insys Therapeutics, to five and a half years in prison yesterday for his role in a racketeering scheme that bribed doctors to prescribe a highly addictive opioid. 

The case had been closely watched because it represented a rare criminal inquiry into the practices of a drug company that aggressively sold painkillers while the nation was in the grip of a deadly opioid epidemic that killed thousands of people in the last decade.

Beth Wilkinson, a lawyer for Mr. Kapoor, declined to comment on the sentencing but said she planned to appeal.  As reported by the New York Times.

“Federal prosecutors have said that Insys, based in Arizona, embarked on an intensive marketing plan — including paying doctors for sham educational talks and luring others with lap dances — to sell its under-the-tongue fentanyl spray, Subsys, which was federally approved to treat patients with cancer.

Doctors were urged to write prescriptions for a much wider pool or patients, and to mislead insurance companies so they would pay for the expensive medication.”

Sackler family members who own Purdue Pharma deserve a similar fate.


New York Giant Quarterback, Eli Manning, to Retire Today!

Image result for Eli Manning"

Dear Commons Community,

Eli Manning, who led the Giants to two upset Superbowl victories, is retiring today and will make a formal announcement at a news conference at MetLife Stadium.  Manning was a major sports hero here in New York and no football fan will ever forget his pass to David Tyree in Superbowl XLII, one of the best plays ever in the history of the game.  In addition to his athleticism, Manning was always a class act and never boasted or said the wrong thing. We thank him for his time here in New York. 

Below is an excerpt from an article on Eli in today’s New York Times.



“Eli Manning, the Louisiana-born, Mississippi-educated quarterback who became a New York sports folk hero after he led the Giants to two upset victories in the Super Bowl, is retiring from the N.F.L., the team said. Manning will make a formal announcement in a news conference scheduled for Friday.

Manning, 39, played 16 seasons for the Giants and leaves with franchise records for most passing yards (57,023), touchdown passes (366) and completed passes (4,895). He was named the most valuable player of the Super Bowl following the 2007 and 2011 seasons and is one of only five players to have won the award multiple times.

“He represented our franchise as a consummate professional with dignity and accountability,” John Mara, a team co-owner, said in a statement. “It meant something to Eli to be the Giants quarterback, and it meant even more to us.”

A brother of Peyton Manning, who was one of the most productive and celebrated quarterbacks in pro football history, Eli Manning was the quiet, younger sibling who instead became known for sterling performances in the biggest games of his career. Durable and unflappable, he also had an unassuming, workmanlike demeanor that played well during a lengthy career in the country’s largest media market.

He became known for sterling performances in the biggest games of his career. Durable and unflappable, he also had an unassuming, workmanlike demeanor that played well during a lengthy career in the country’s largest media market.

But like his brother, who retired in March 2016 and is a certain inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Eli Manning compiled statistics that will make him a serious candidate for the same honor. His streak of 210 consecutive starts is third most by a quarterback, and he finished seventh in career N.F.L. passing yards and seventh in touchdown passes. Manning also engineered 27 fourth-quarter comebacks for the Giants, the 13th most for a quarterback in N.F.L. history.

“Eli’s legacy will always be championships and leadership,” Ernie Accorsi, the Giants’ general manager who spearheaded the 2004 draft day trade that brought Manning to the Giants, said. “People always ask me what I saw in Eli when he was young. I didn’t see stats. I saw a leader. I saw championships. That’s what he was brought here for, not stats.”

Indeed, the numerical measure of Manning can be less than impressive for a player who made the Pro Bowl four times. His career record as a regular-season starter at quarterback is 117-117.

But to all those who follow football — and even those who do not — Manning will forever be best known for producing two of his best games against the kingly New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the game’s biggest stage. In the first of those contests, the undefeated Patriots were trying to win their 19th consecutive game that season. They led the Giants by 4 points with less than three minutes remaining. With poise and resourcefulness, Manning led the Giants on an 83-yard drive, which included a pivotal but helter-skelter play: He avoided multiple sack attempts and heaved a pass downfield that wide receiver David Tyree caught by pinning the football against his helmet.

With 35 seconds left, Manning threw a 13-yard touchdown pass for the game-winning points in the Giants’ stunning 17-14 victory, one of the most notable contests in pro football history.

Four years later, the favored Patriots again led the Giants in the final minutes of a Super Bowl. This time, Manning rallied his team with a precise 88-yard drive that began with a 38-yard catch by Mario Manningham. Manning’s pass was deftly threaded at the edge of the left sideline and between two New England defenders and into the arms of Manningham. Three more Manning completions helped put the Giants at the Patriots’ 1-yard line. From there, Ahmad Bradshaw’s touchdown run with 57 seconds remaining gave the Giants a 21-17 win.

The Super Bowl victories were made more memorable because the Giants in each case entered the postseason after a less than sterling regular season. In 2007, the team was 10-6 and had to win three successive away games, at Tampa Bay, Dallas and Green Bay, before facing the Patriots. In 2011, the Giants barely made the playoffs with a 9-7 record and won one home postseason game before earning surprising victories at Green Bay and at San Francisco.

In those playoff runs, Manning consistently outperformed his counterparts at quarterback, including some of the biggest stars in the N.F.L.

“In the most pressure-filled, intensely competitive situations, that’s when you knew you could count on Eli — and boy, he would never let you down,” Tom Coughlin, who was the Giants’ coach during both Super Bowl-championship seasons, said in 2014. “That will forever be his calling card.”

New Book: “The American Story:  Conversations with Master Historians ” by David Rubenstein!

Dear Commons Community,

I just finished reading The American Story:  Conversations with Master Historians  by David Rubernstein.  If you are interested in American history, Mr. Rubenstein provides an insightful look at key individuals through the eyes of major historians and biographers.  In addition to presidents (Jon Meacham on Thomas Jefferson, Cokie Roberts on Founding Mothers, Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln, and Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson, ), there are also chapters on Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Charles Lindburgh.   The American Story emanated from a dinner series in the Library of Congress for members of Congress entitled “Congressional Dialogues,” in which Rubenstein interviews acclaimed historians.  There are sixteen chapters, each one is its own little gem.  Rubenstein states that  his purpose was “to provide the members with more information about the great leaders and events in our country’s past, with the hope that, in exercising their various responsibilities, our senators and representatives would be more knowledgeable about history and what it can teach us about future challenges.”  Rubenstein also prods the authors to give little personal tidbits about the subjects that make for interesting reading. Below  is a review written by Kitty Kelly. 

I highly recommend it.


Washington Independent

Review of Books

The American Story: Conversations with Master Historians

This compelling compilation looks at some of the pivotal figures who shaped our nation.

For those who love history and enjoy biography, David M. Rubenstein has delivered a masterstroke with The American Story, in which he presents his interviews with authors of notable biographies. Among them are David McCullough on John Adams; Ron Chernow on Alexander Hamilton; Taylor Branch on Martin Luther King Jr.; Walter Isaacson on Benjamin Franklin; Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson; and Doris Kearns Goodwin on Abraham Lincoln.

In total, The American Story is a delectable smorgasbord of U.S. history, covering 39 books discussed by 15 authors, some of whom have written more than one biography.

The American Story grew from an idea Rubenstein proposed in 2013 to present a dinner series for members of Congress entitled “Congressional Dialogues,” in which he would interview acclaimed historians in the gilded setting of the Library of Congress.

He said his purpose was to educate public servants, “to provide the members with more information about the great leaders and events in our country’s past, with the hope that, in exercising their various responsibilities, our senators and representatives would be more knowledgeable about history and what it can teach us about future challenges.”

He also hoped that bringing the members together in a nonpartisan setting might reduce the rancor in Washington. Six years later, he admits the jury is out on the former and that absolutely no traction has been gained on the latter.

Rubenstein, who made his fortune ($3.6 billion) in private equity as co-founder of the Carlyle Group, styles himself as a “patriotic philanthropist,” having purchased the last privately owned original Magna Carta for $21.3 million and then loaning it to the National Archives.

In addition, he has given $7.5 million to repair the Washington Monument; $13.5 million to the National Archives for a new gallery; $20 million to the Thomas Jefferson Foundation; and $10 million to Montpelier to renovate James Madison’s home. So, when the “patriotic philanthropist” asked to host his own interviews at the Library of Congress, the answer was, quite sensibly, yes.

Yet Rubenstein brings more than his b-for-boy-billions to this book. He has delved deeply into American history, having read at least one biography of each president and “every single biography” about John F. Kennedy, the commander-in-chief with whom he feels the greatest connection.

He has donated millions to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, where he serves as chairman of the board of trustees. He recently contributed $50 million for the Kennedy Center’s REACH expansion, upon which his name is chiseled in marble.

As much as Rubenstein admires our 35th president, however, his interview with biographer Richard Reeves (President Kennedy: Profile of Power) shows some of the dark side of JFK’s reign, including the assassination of Rafael Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, and the attempted assassination of Fidel Castro.

Some readers will be startled to learn that JFK knew in advance about the Berlin Wall (“for which he was practically a co-contractor,” says Reeves) and had, in effect, consented to building it to protect the small U.S. force of 15,000 soldiers in West Germany from the hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers on the eastern side.

The American Story shows almost every president to have had a flaw that scarred his legacy: FDR turned away Jewish refugees, sending them back to sure death under Hitler; JFK misfired on the Bay of Pigs; Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate; Vietnam doomed Lyndon Johnson; and, with the exception of John Adams, all the Founding Fathers owned slaves. Yet, as Walter Isaacson put it so well, “The Founders were the best team ever fielded.”

In mining nuggets of history, Jean Edward Smith (Eisenhower in War and Peace) reveals that D-Day might have failed had Hitler not been sleeping. His best Panzer tank troops were available to repel the invading Allies, but only he could give the order to use them, and no one dared wake the Führer during the initial hours of the landing. By the time he woke up, the Normandy beachheads had been secured.

Did the Allies know Hitler had orders not to be disturbed while sleeping? Or was it a matter of the great good luck that Smith said accompanied Eisenhower throughout his life?

Early in his career, Ike was almost court-martialed for claiming his son on his housing allowance for $250 (valued at $3,000 in 2017) even though his son was not living with him. Gen. John J. Pershing got the charge reduced to a letter of reprimand, and Eisenhower soared to a glorious career as a five-star general.

The Q&A format of this book is ingenious. Rubenstein, who’s mastered his subject matter, asks informed questions that stimulate impressive responses, and the “patriotic philanthropist” is not above probing into the personal and provocative:

About Benjamin Franklin: “He seemed to have a lot of girl friends.”

About Alexander Hamilton: “He had a bit of an amorous reputation. In fact, what did Martha Washington call her tomcat?”

About Dwight Eisenhower: “He was the only [WWII] general who may have had [an affair with] his ‘driver.’ Is that right?”

About Ronald Reagan: “Did he dye his hair?”

Rubenstein’s most engaging interview, with U.S. Supreme Court chief justice John G. Roberts Jr., comes at the end of the book. Roberts studied history as an undergrad at Harvard with hopes to make it his career, but then changed his mind.

“I was driving back to school from Logan Airport in Boston one day and I talked to the cabdriver. I said, ‘I’m a history major at Harvard.’ And he said, ‘I was a history major at Harvard…’ [After that] I thought I would move to law.”

Rubenstein, also a lawyer, responds: “In the first year of law school — really in the first month or two — you realize certain people have the ability to quickly do legal reasoning. They have the knack of it, and some people don’t. You must have realized that it wasn’t as hard as you had thought it would be.”

Smart as Rubenstein is, you have to love Roberts, who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School: “It was as hard as I thought it would be. It was pretty hard throughout.

The American Story is a creative concept that delivers delicious bite-size bits of American history to those who haven’t had the time or inclination to read widely. I devoured every page with immense pleasure.



Purdue Global Suffered a $43 Million Loss Last Year!

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Dear Commons Community.

In 2017, Purdue University announced a partnership with the for-profit Kaplan University to create a new hybrid public-private partnership.  The higher education world viewed this move with a good deal of astonishment and speculation.  Two years later, the partnership has not shown much success and last year posted a $43 million loss.  Below is a review of Purdue Global courtesy of The Chronicle of Higher Education.



Purdue Global Has Had a Rocky Start. Is It Growing Pains or a Sign of Trouble?

By Lee Gardner

January 21, 2020

“In April 2017, Mitch Daniels stunned academe with the announcement that Purdue University, where he is president, planned to acquire for-profit Kaplan University. With one stroke, the former Republican governor of Indiana drew market forces close to the heart of a public research university and, overnight, positioned Purdue to compete with established online “mega-universities” like Southern New Hampshire University.

Two and a half years later, the audacious deal is showing signs of trouble. Daniels, who had predicted that the deal would produce a “very substantial revenue stream,” has said that Purdue University Global, as the former Kaplan online programs are now known, is not “achieving the growth we thought we might.” The university’s annual financial report, released this month, shows that Purdue Global suffered a $43-million loss last year, following a $18-million loss during the year prior.

While Purdue Global is less than three years old, its course so far hints at the potential pitfalls of trying to rise to the mega-university level. But does its halting progress to date indicate a wrong turn on Daniels’s part, or just a bumpy start?

Purdue Global’s lackluster beginning has provided ammunition for critics within and outside the university who fret over the possible damage to Purdue’s reputation caused by bringing a for-profit entity into a public institution — a notion that many faculty members objected to from the outset. “We were told this was a can’t-fail operation, that it was going to be profitable and successful, that it was going to pay for itself,” says Bill Mullen, a professor of English. “There’s been very little to crow about here about Purdue Global’s performance so far.”

“The level of transparency at Purdue Global is not on the level that we typically expect from a public university.”

Critics like Mullen also worry that Purdue Global might be just business-as-usual Kaplan University under another name. While it is owned by Purdue and overseen by a Board of Trustees appointed by Daniels, including four members of the university board, many of Purdue Global’s functions are still provided by for-profit Kaplan Higher Education Inc., its former owner. And many Purdue faculty members say they still have no idea who’s teaching Purdue Global’s courses or what’s being taught; about 45 percent of the 1,700 Purdue Global faculty have a doctorate, according to Purdue.

“The level of transparency at Purdue Global is not on the level that we typically expect from a public university,” says Yan Cao, a fellow at the Century Foundation, a nonprofit policy group.

But this unusual hybrid, which was formally approved in March of 2018, is still new and a work in progress, according to Betty Vandenbosch, a former president of Kaplan University and now chancellor of Purdue Global. Purdue Global is a new name and, effectively, a new player in the increasingly competitive marketplace for adult learners. “Obviously, it’s hard to start a brand new university,” she says. Purdue Global’s financial loss this year was due, in part, to nearly $30 million spent on marketing.

Making a big spend for marketing was “a logical, strategic decision,” said Tim Doty, the director of public information and issues management for Purdue, in an email. He added that Purdue Global expects to make a profit in fiscal year 2020 due to increased enrollment, better retention, and “normalized levels of investment in branding/marketing.”

Vandenbosch is sanguine: “We think that a year and a half isn’t very far in. We’re in this for the long term.”

A lot of good things have come from the acquisition, Vandenbosch says. For example, Purdue Global is introducing programs that it would never have been able to support without its Purdue ties, such as a new bachelor’s degree in professional flight.

Purdue Global is also making strides in the quality of education it provides. In 2017, Kaplan University’s pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination, the standard licensing exams for nurses, were well below national averages across the board — as low as 59 percent for Kaplan graduates with a bachelor of science in nursing, compared with a national average of 90 percent for that year. As of the first quarter of 2019, Purdue Global nursing graduates’ pass rates on the exams now exceed the national averages.

But Vandenbosch acknowledges that Purdue Global has struggled to bring in as many students as hoped. In 2017, when the Purdue deal was announced, Kaplan had nearly 31,000 students, down from about 70,000 in 2010. Enrollment at the new Purdue Global fell to around 29,600. Even though enrollment grew by about 5 percent last year, it’s still only about 31,000. “You always want more than you get,” she says.

It shouldn’t be surprising if an institution aimed at adult learners is experiencing lackluster enrollment, says Trace Urdan, the managing director at Tyton Partners, an investment-banking and consulting firm. Low unemployment has led to “a climate over all of continuing decline in working-adult enrollment, at least at the undergrad level,” he says. Data from the National Student Clearinghouse indicate that enrollment at four-year for-profit institutions, which cater to adult students, was down nearly 20 percent in 2019 from the previous year. Enrollment at community colleges, which offer many similar career programs, was down more than 3 percent over the same period.

Enrollment at for-profit institutions has also suffered due to accusations of poor-quality academics and predatory recruiting practices, charges that have ”severely damaged,” the sector’s brand, Urdan says. Some of these accusations have been directed at Kaplan specifically: Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center issued a report in December 2017 featuring complaints from veterans and active servicemembers that Kaplan had misled them regarding costs, program quality, the transferability of credits, and other matters.

The deal Kaplan struck with Purdue was, in part, a way to save the former from its downward trajectory, Urdan adds. If Purdue Global’s enrollment isn’t doing as well as hoped, he says, it may also be because “whatever they were doing at Kaplan wasn’t magically fixed” by assuming the Purdue name.

Meanwhile, nonprofit universities with large online programs aimed at adult learners, like Southern New Hampshire and Western Governors Universities, are booming. Western Governors’ enrollment has grown from about 91,000 in 2017 to nearly 120,000 last year. Southern New Hampshire’s online enrollment has grown from more than 100,000 students in 2017 to about 140,000 over the same period.

The overall dearth of adult students may be depressing Purdue Global’s enrollment somewhat, Urdan says, but its administrators may also need to ask themselves, “Why should Southern New Hampshire be growing and we’re not?”

Purdue Global is now fully integrated into the larger university — on the latter’s website, at least. Purdue Global is listed on the home page alongside the branch campuses at Fort Wayne and Northwest, and its programs are intermingled with existing Purdue Online offerings for potential students to parse.

Matters are less settled for many professors at the main campus in West Lafayette, Ind. Mullen, the English professor, worries that students may confuse Purdue and Purdue Global, and that that confusion may be somewhat intentional. “Lots of people who see advertisements for Purdue Global on television think they’re getting a Purdue University degree,” he says. “Well, it’s not.” (Purdue Global receives no taxpayer funds, so, under a bill signed into state law on the day the deal was announced, it is exempt from open-records law requests.)

Purdue could have been more transparent during the acquisition of Kaplan, and it could be more transparent about Purdue Global now, says Cheryl Cooky, an associate professor of American studies and gender and sexuality studies and the chair of the University Senate. While the Senate convened a special committee to serve as a conduit for questions and answers between professors and administrators regarding the project, Purdue and Purdue Global could both benefit from more “open channels of exchange,” she says.

But Cooky is giving Purdue Global the benefit of the doubt. She sees it as an extension of the university’s land-grant mission, and a good way to serve a new cadre of students “without spending $50 million building a new building to house students 10 years from now.” She sees questions about the quality of instruction, or whether or not Purdue Global credits will transfer to Purdue itself, as “really elitist.”

For other faculty members, “it’s more a wait-and-see kind of thing,” says Deborah Nichols, an associate professor of human development and family studies and a co-chair of the University Senate committee on Purdue Global. She sees potential for the university to reach more students through Purdue Global, but adds that the way the acquisition was handled has increased many professors’ mistrust of the university administration: “It was hard to separate how this happened from whether or not this would be a good idea.”

Even Cooky, who is supportive of Purdue Global, has qualms about the secrecy with which the deal was struck, and how professors were kept out of the loop: “Faculty can sign nondisclosure [agreements] as well.”

Purdue Global may be expanding access, says Cao, from the Century Foundation, but access to what? “We’re not sure that they’re expanding access to a meaningful, high-quality product, rather than something as predatory as Kaplan was,” she says.

Purdue Global may not be the last public university/private provider hybrid, and with good reason, says Donald Kilburn, the chief executive officer of UMass Online, the University of Massachusetts’s online-education arm aimed at working adults. The demand for more educated workers, and the more than 30 million Americans with some college credit but no degree, have created “a national imperative for more providers,” Kilburn says. The question is, he says, how does a traditional university serve a large, nontraditional population at scale?

“Academia, like most businesses, is a copycat business.”

Asked if UMass would consider purchasing a for-profit provider, Kilburn says, “We’re looking at all strategic options at this point.”

It’s too early to count Purdue Global as a success or failure, but in the short term, it may serve as a cautionary tale that mega-university success isn’t as simple as signing a contract.

“Academia, like most businesses, is a copycat business,” says Mullen. There are so many unresolved questions swirling around Purdue Global “that a lot of us are concerned that this model will be replicated” elsewhere with even less vetting.




Derek Jeter Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame!

Derek Jeter flies out to right field in

Dear Commons Community,

I have been a New York Yankee fan for as long as I can remember.  I grew up about six blocks from Yankee Stadium and watched all the great ball players from 1950 to the present.  I take my son and grandson to Yankee games now and watch the team on television on a regular basis.  My opinion is that Derek Jeter is the best baseball player I have ever seen.  Beside his impressive stats, he as Mr. Clutch and led the Yankees to five World Series championships and seven American League pennants. Yesterday he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot.  Here is an excerpt from a write-up in the New York Times.

“It was never a question that Derek Jeter, the longtime captain of the Yankees and one of the most celebrated players in baseball history, was going to be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The intrigue instead centered on whether he would become the second unanimously elected player, following his former teammate and fellow five-time World Series champion Mariano Rivera.

Yesterday, Jeter fell just short of Rivera’s historic mark from last season.

Jeter was named on all but one of the 397 ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America — more than enough to clear the 75 percent hurdle for election. His 99.7 percent share of the vote eclipsed the previous second-highest voting mark, 99.3 percent, for outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. in 2016.

Jeter was joined in the Hall’s 2020 class by Larry Walker, the standout slugger who played the majority of his career in Colorado with the Rockies. Walker was in his 10th and final year of eligibility on the ballot and will now be the first Canadian-born position player in the Hall of Fame.

Walker and Jeter, who is now leading a rebuilding effort in Miami as the chief executive officer and part owner of the Marlins, will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on July 26 in Cooperstown, N.Y., along with Marvin Miller, the union leader who revolutionized the sport by helping players gain the right to free agency, and catcher Ted Simmons. The latter was passed over by the writers, but both were elected by a smaller committee last month.

“Everyone told me it was a foregone conclusion,” Jeter said, perhaps too modestly, on a conference call Tuesday night with reporters. “I didn’t buy it. So it was not a relaxing day.”

Jeter said he was nervous waiting for the phone call with the news of his election. He brushed off the fact that he fell one vote short of unanimity.

“I look at all the votes that I got, and it takes a lot of votes to get elected in the Hall of Fame,” he said. “Trying to get that many people to agree on something, that’s pretty difficult to do. I’m just extremely excited and honored to be elected.”

Jeter enters the Hall of Fame with an impressive résumé. Born in New Jersey but raised in Michigan with a dream of playing shortstop in pinstripes, Jeter was picked sixth over all in the 1992 draft by the Yankees and was persuaded to sign with them instead of playing baseball at the University of Michigan.

“The only place Derek Jeter’s going is to Cooperstown,” Dick Groch, a former Yankees scout who signed Jeter, told team officials at the time. Jeter was in the major leagues by 1995 and won the American League Rookie of the Year Award the following season.”

Congratulations Mr. Clutch!