US Supreme Court to hear arguments today in disputes over race-conscious college admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina!

Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Affirmative Action Cases at Harvard and UNC –  Rogue Rocket

Dear Commons Community,

The future of affirmative action in higher education is on the table as the US Supreme Court wades into the admissions programs at Harvard and the  University of North Carolina.

The justices are hearing arguments today in challenges to admissions policies at the two universities  that consider race among other factors in evaluating applications for admission.  As reported by several news media.

The Supreme Court has twice upheld race-conscious college admissions programs in the past 19 years, including just six years ago.

But that was before three appointees of President Donald Trump joined, as well as Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black woman.

Lower courts upheld the programs at both Harvard and UNC, rejecting claims that the schools discriminated against white and Asian-American applicants.

The cases are brought by conservative activist Edward Blum, who also was behind an earlier affirmative action challenge against the University of Texas as well as the case that led the court in 2013 to end the use of a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

Blum formed Students for Fair Admissions, which filed the lawsuits against both schools in 2014.

The group argues that the Constitution forbids the use of race in college admissions and calls for overturning earlier Supreme Court decisions that said otherwise.

Colleges and universities can use other, race-neutral ways to assemble a diverse student body, including by focusing on socioeconomic status and eliminating the preference for children of alumni, Students for Fair Admissions argues.

The schools contend that they use race in a limited way, but that eliminating it as a factor altogether would make it much harder to achieve a student body that looks like America.

The Biden administration is urging the court to preserve race-conscious admissions. The Trump administration had taken the opposite position in earlier stages of the cases.

UNC says its freshman class is about 65% white, 22% Asian American, 10% Black and 10% Hispanic. The numbers add to more than 100% because some students report belonging to more than one category, a school spokesman said.

White students are just over 40% of Harvard’s freshman class, the school said. The class also is just under 28% Asian American, 14% Black and 12% Latino.

Nine states already prohibit any consideration of race in admissions to public colleges and universities: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

In 2020, California voters rejected a ballot measure to bring back affirmative action.

Public opinion on the topic varies depending on how the question is asked. A Gallup Poll from 2021 found 62% of Americans in favor of affirmative action programs for racial minorities. But in a Pew Research Center survey in March, 74% of Americans, including majorities of Black and Latino respondents, said race and ethnicity should not factor into college admissions.

Jackson and Chief Justice John Roberts received their undergraduate and law degrees from Harvard. Two other justices went to law school there.

But Jackson is sitting out the Harvard case because she was until recently a member of an advisory governing board.

A decision in the affirmative action cases is expected in late spring.


Leftist Lula Da Silva Defeats Far-Right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazilian Presidential Election!

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva | Biography, Facts, & Involvement with Petrobras Scandal | Britannica

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva

Dear Commons Community,

Brazilians delivered a victory to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in a bitter presidential election, giving the leftist former president another shot at power in a rejection of incumbent Jair Bolsonaro’s far-right politics.

Da Silva received 50.9% of the vote and Bolsonaro 49.1%, according to the country’s election authority. Yet hours after the results were in — and congratulations poured in from world leaders — Bolsonaro had yet to publicly concede or react in any way.  As reported by the Associated Press.

Bolsonaro’s campaign had made repeated — unproven — claims of possible electoral manipulation before the vote, raising fears that, if he lost, he would not accept defeat and try to challenge the results.

For da Silva, the high-stakes election was a stunning comeback. His imprisonment for corruption sidelined him from the 2018 election won by Bolsonaro, who has used the presidency to promote conservative social values while also delivering incendiary speeches and testing democratic institutions.

“Today the only winner is the Brazilian people,” da Silva said in a speech Sunday evening at a hotel in downtown Sao Paulo. “It’s the victory of a democratic movement that formed above political parties, personal interests and ideologies so that democracy came out victorious.”

Da Silva is promising to govern beyond his party. He says he wants to bring in centrists and even some leaning to the right, and to restore the kind of prosperity the country enjoyed when he last served as president from 2003-2010. Yet he faces headwinds in a politically polarized society.

Bolsonaro’s four years in office have been marked by proclaimed conservatism and defense of traditional Christian values. He claimed that his rival’s return to power would usher in communism, legalized drugs, abortion and the persecution of churches – things that didn’t happen during da Silva’s earlier eight years in office.

This was the country’s tightest election since its return to democracy in 1985, and the first time that a sitting president failed to win reelection. Just over 2 million votes separated the two candidates; the previous closest race, in 2014, was decided by a margin of roughly 3.5 million votes.

Da Silva’s win extended a wave of recent leftist triumphs across the region, including Chile, Colombia and Argentina.

The president-elect will inherit a nation straining against itself after he is inaugurated on Jan. 1, said Thomas Traumann, an independent political analyst who compared Sunday’s results to Biden’s 2020 victory.

“The huge challenge that Lula has will be to pacify the country,” he said. “People are not only polarized on political matters, but also have different values, identity and opinions. What’s more, they don’t care what the other side’s values, identities and opinions are.”

Among world leaders offering congratulations on Sunday night was U.S. President Joe Biden, who in a statement highlighted the country’s “free, fair, and credible elections.” The European Union also commended the electoral authority for its effectiveness and transparency throughout the campaign.

Bolsonaro had been leading throughout the first half of the count and, as soon as da Silva overtook him, cars in the streets of downtown Sao Paulo began honking their horns. People in the streets of Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema neighborhood could be heard shouting, “It turned!”

Da Silva’s headquarters in downtown Sao Paulo hotel only erupted once the final result was announced, underscoring the tension that was a hallmark of this race.

“Four years waiting for this,” said Gabriela Souto, one of the few supporters allowed in due to heavy security.

Outside Bolsonaro’s home in Rio, ground-zero for his support base, a woman atop a truck delivered a prayer over a speaker, then sang excitedly, trying to generate some energy as the tally grew for da Silva. But supporters decked out in the green and yellow of the flag barely responded. Many perked up when the national anthem played, singing along loudly with hands over their hearts.

For months, it appeared that da Silva was headed for easy victory as he kindled nostalgia for his presidency, when Brazil’s economy was booming.

Bolsonaro’s administration has been widely criticized for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years. But he has built a devoted base by presenting himself as protection from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties while producing economic turmoil and moral rot. He sought to shore up support in an election year with vast government spending.

“We did not face an opponent, a candidate. We faced the machine of the Brazilian state put at his service so we could not win the election,” da Silva told the crowd in Sao Paulo.

Da Silva built an extensive social welfare program during his tenure at president that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class. The man universally known as Lula left office with an approval rating above 80%, prompting then U.S. President Barack Obama to call him “the most popular politician on Earth.”

But he is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption revealed by sprawling investigations.

Da Silva was jailed for 580 days for corruption and money laundering. His convictions were later annulled by Brazil’s top court, which ruled the presiding judge had been biased and colluded with prosecutors. That enabled da Silva to run for president for the sixth time.

Da Silva has pledged to boost spending on the poor, reestablish relationships with foreign governments and take bold action to eliminate illegal clear-cutting in the Amazon rainforest.

“We will once again monitor and do surveillance in the Amazon. We will fight every illegal activity,” da Silva said in his speech. “At the same time, we will promote sustainable development of communities in the Amazon.”

The president-elect has pledged to install a ministry for Brazil’s original peoples, which will be run by an Indigenous person.

But as da Silva tries to achieve these and other goals, he will be confronted by strong opposition from conservative lawmakers.

Unemployment this year has fallen to its lowest level since 2015 and, although overall inflation slowed during the campaign, food prices are increasing at a double-digit rate. Bolsonaro’s welfare payments helped many Brazilians get by, but da Silva has been presenting himself as the candidate more willing to sustain aid going forward and raise the minimum wage.

In April, he tapped center-right Geraldo Alckmin, a former rival, to be his running mate. It was another key part of an effort to create a broad, pro-democracy front to not just unseat Bolsonaro, but to make it easier to govern.

Building bridges among a diverse — and divided — country will be key to his success, said Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo.

“If Lula manages to talk to voters who didn’t vote for him, which Bolsonaro never tried, and seeks negotiated solutions to the economic, social and political crisis we have,” Melo said, “then he could reconnect Brazil to a time in which people could disagree and still get some things done.”

Congratulations Lula!


Barack Obama, back on the campaign trail, electrifies crowds and warns of threats to democracy!

Transcript: Obama's scathing campaign speech rebuking Trump | CNN Politics

Dear Commons Community,

Former President Barack Obama returned to the campaign trail Friday, using his first stop in Georgia on a multi-state tour to frame the 2022 midterm elections as a referendum on democracy and to urge voters not to see Republicans as an answer to their economic woes.

It was a delicate balance, as the former president acknowledged the pain of inflation and tried to explain why President Joe Biden and Democrats shouldn’t take all the blame as they face the prospects of losing narrow majorities in the House and Senate when votes are tallied Nov. 8. But Obama argued that Republicans who are intent on making it harder for people to vote and — like former President Donald Trump — are willing to ignore the results, can’t be trusted to care about Americans’ wallets either.

“That basic foundation of our democracy is being called into question right now,” Obama told more than 5,000 voters gathered outside Atlanta. “Democrats aren’t perfect. I’m the first one to admit it. … But right now, with a few notable exceptions, most of the GOP and a whole bunch of these candidates are not even pretending that the rules apply to them.”  As reported by the Associated Press.

With Biden’s approval ratings in the low 40s, Democrats hope Obama’s emergence in the closing weeks of the campaign boosts the party’s slate in a tough national environment. He shared the stage Friday with Sen. Raphael Warnock, who faces a tough reelection fight from Republican Herschel Walker, and Stacey Abrams, who is trying to unseat Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who defeated her narrowly four years ago.

Obama will travel Saturday to Michigan and Wisconsin, followed by stops next week in Nevada and Pennsylvania.

For Obama personally, the campaign blitz is an opportunity to do something he was unable to do in two midterms during his presidency: help Democrats succeed in national midterms when they already hold the White House. For his party, it’s an opportunity to leverage Obama’s rebound in popularity since his last midterm defeats in 2014. Their hope is that the former president can sell arguments that Biden, his former vice president, has struggled to land.

Biden was in Pennsylvania on Friday with Vice President Kamala Harris and plans to be in Georgia next week, potentially in a joint rally with Obama and statewide Democratic candidates. But he has not been welcomed as a surrogate for many Democratic candidates across the country, including Warnock.

“Obama occupies a rare place in our politics today,” said David Axelrod, who helped shape Obama’s campaigns from his days in the Illinois state Senate through two presidential elections. “He obviously has great appeal to Democrats. But he’s also well-liked by independent voters.”

Obama tried to show off that reach Friday. The first Black president drew a hero’s welcome from a majority Black audience, and he offered plenty of applause lines for Democrats. But he saved plenty of his argument, especially on the economy, for moderates, independents and casual voters, including a defense of Biden, who Obama said is “fighting for you every day.”

He called inflation “a legacy of the pandemic,” the resulting supply chain disruption and the Ukraine war’s effects on global oil markets — a sweeping retort to Republican attempts to cast sole blame on Democrats’ spending bills.

“What is their answer? … They want to give the rich tax cuts,” Obama said of the GOP. “That’s their answer to everything. When inflation is low, let’s cut taxes. When unemployment is high, let’s cut taxes. If there was an asteroid heading toward Earth, they would all get in a room and say, you know what we need? We need tax cuts for the wealthy. How’s that going to help you?”

Biden has sought to make similar arguments, and was buoyed this week with news of 2.6% economic growth in the third quarter after two consecutive quarters of negative growth.

Yet Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist, said Obama is better positioned to convince voters who haven’t decided whom to vote for or whether to vote at all.

“If it’s just a straight-up referendum on Democrats and the economy, then we’re screwed,” Smith said. “But you have to make the election a choice between the two parties, crystallize the differences.”

Obama, she said, did that in the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections “by winning over a lot of working-class white voters and others we don’t always think about as part of the ‘Obama coalition.’”

Obama left office in January 2017 with a 59% approval rating, and Gallup measured his post-presidential approval at 63% the following year, the last time the organization surveyed former presidents. That’s considerably higher than his ratings in 2010, when Democrats lost control of the House in a midterm election that Obama called a “shellacking.” In his second midterm election four years later, the GOP regained control of the Senate.

Still, Bakari Sellers, a prominent Democratic commentator, said Obama’s broader popularity shouldn’t obscure how much his “special connection” with Black voters and other non-white voters can help Democrats.

The Atlanta rally brought Obama together with Warnock, the first Black U.S. senator in Georgia history, and Abrams, who’s vying to become the first Black female governor in American history.

In Michigan, Obama will campaign in Detroit with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is being challenged by Republican Tudor Dixon, and in Wisconsin he’ll be in Milwaukee with Senate candidate Mandela Barnes, who is trying to oust Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. Each city is where the state’s Black population is most concentrated. Obama’s Pennsylvania swing will include Philadelphia, another city where Democrats must get a strong turnout from Black voters to win competitive races for Senate and governor.

With the Senate now split 50-50 between the two major parties and Vice President Kamala Harris giving Democrats the deciding vote, any Senate contest could end up deciding which party controls the chamber for the next two years. Among the tightest Senate battlegrounds, Georgia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are three where Black turnout could be most critical to Democratic fortunes.

Axelrod said Obama’s turnabout from his own midterm floggings to being Democrats’ leading surrogate is, in part, a rite of passage for any former president. “Most of them — maybe not President Trump, but most of them — are viewed more favorably after they leave office,” Axelrod said.

Notably, during Obama’s presidency, former President Bill Clinton was the in-demand heavyweight surrogate, especially for moderates trying to survive Republican surges in 2010 and 2014.

Axelrod said Obama and Clinton have a similar approach.

“What Clinton and Obama share is a kind of unique ability to colloquialize complicated political arguments of the time, just talk in common-sense terms,” Axelrod said. “They’re storytellers.”

I saw the Obama speech that he gave in Wisconsin yesterday afternoon.  As in the past, he was electrifying.  The Democrats sure need him now but they should have pushed him to campaign for their candidates weeks ago.


David Nasaw on Elon Musk and the Robber Barons!

A 19th-century illustration showing people kneeling and placing bags of money at the feet of fat men with whiskers

Robber barons are men who made their fortunes through questionable business practices that placed them in control of industries. (Samuel Ehrhardt, Puck Magazine, Nov. 6, 1889)

Dear Commons Community,

David Nasaw, a colleague at the CUNY Graduate Center, and author of  Andrew Carnegie and The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, has a guest essay in today’s New York Times entitled, “The Robber Barons Had Nothing on Elon Musk” compares the new owner of Twitter to  the  robber-barons of  past decades.  Here is his introduction.

“Elon Musk is now the proud owner of Twitter. The danger here is not that we have a rogue billionaire in our midst — that has happened before, and it will happen again — but that this one will be in control of what he has rightly referred to as our “digital town square.”

Mr. Musk is the face of 21st-century tech-based, extreme capitalism, just as the robber barons, who built our railroads, and Andrew Carnegie, who supplied those railroads and the builders of modern American cities with steel, embodied the exuberant and expansive industrial capitalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mr. Musk has exploited the opportunities emerging in a rapidly disintegrating regulatory state apparatus and acquired a small army of investors and a fleet of lobbyists, lawyers and fanboys (known as Musketeers). He has sought to position himself as a tech genius who can break the rules, exploit and excise those who work for him, ridicule those who stand in his way and do as he wishes with his wealth because it benefits humanity. He’ll rescue the planet with his electric cars and save Ukraine with his satellite systems — but he must be freed of government interference to do these good deeds.”

Nasaw concludes:  “his [Musk] success was prompted and paid for by taxpayer money and abetted by government officials who have allowed him and other billionaire businessmen to exercise more and more control over our economy and our politics.’

The entire essay is below!



The New York Times

“The Robber Barons Had Nothing on Elon Musk”

Oct. 27, 2022

By David Nasaw

Elon Musk is now the proud owner of Twitter. The danger here is not that we have a rogue billionaire in our midst — that has happened before, and it will happen again — but that this one will be in control of what he has rightly referred to as our “digital town square.”

Mr. Musk is the face of 21st-century tech-based, extreme capitalism, just as the robber barons, who built our railroads, and Andrew Carnegie, who supplied those railroads and the builders of modern American cities with steel, embodied the exuberant and expansive industrial capitalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Mr. Musk has exploited the opportunities emerging in a rapidly disintegrating regulatory state apparatus and acquired a small army of investors and a fleet of lobbyists, lawyers and fanboys (known as Musketeers). He has sought to position himself as a tech genius who can break the rules, exploit and excise those who work for him, ridicule those who stand in his way and do as he wishes with his wealth because it benefits humanity. He’ll rescue the planet with his electric cars and save Ukraine with his satellite systems — but he must be freed of government interference to do these good deeds.

For more than two centuries, American moguls like Mr. Musk have transformed our economy and our daily lives (and enriched themselves) by playing a winning game with governments. They sought and received from those governments enormous subsidies and protection, while demanding that they be left alone to conduct their business as they pleased. The railroad robber barons built their fortunes on government-supplied land on which they laid their tracks and then collected government subsidies for every mile of it.

Carnegie and the steel barons elected Republican lawmakers and presidents committed to protecting their companies’ profits by levying high tariffs on foreign competitors. Mr. Musk’s companies, and his fortune, were built with billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies for his electric-car company, Tesla, and billions more in NASA contracts to ferry American astronauts into space, launch satellites and provide high-speed internet services tethered to his fleet of some 3,000 satellites.

What makes Mr. Musk particularly powerful and potentially more dangerous than the industrial-era moguls is his ability to promote his businesses and political notions with a tweet. The effect of such instant communications is enhanced by his firm understanding of media and market dynamics in this era of meme stocks, day trading, instant communications, misinformation and disinformation.

Carnegie kept his companies private because he did not want to be beholden to outside investors, influence and market conditions. Mr. Musk has done the opposite. His wealth is based not on factories he has built, products he sells or real estate he has acquired, but on the billions of dollars of shares he owns in Tesla, SpaceX, cryptocurrency companies and Twitter.

In August 2018, he tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Mr. Musk’s “misleading tweets” caused Tesla’s stock price to jump by over 6 percent and slapped him with a securities fraud charge. He then agreed to step down as Tesla’s chairman and to pay a $20 million penalty. Tesla paid another $20 million.

The Kennedy family patriarch, Joseph P. Kennedy, was always adept at manipulating stock prices, but as the first chairman of the S.E.C., he feared that capitalism would never recover from the Great Depression if manipulators and fraudsters were free to do as they pleased. Under Kennedy, the commission outlawed many of the practices that he had exploited to make his fortune, including short selling on insider information.

Mr. Musk has no such fears and no such scruples. As The Economist noted in April, Mr. Musk “promotes the idea that the normal rules of investment do not apply. He paints stewards of fair play — regulators and boards — as pettifogging enemies of progress.” He refers to S.E.C. officials as “those bastards.”

The likely consequences of Mr. Musk’s Twitter ownership will be political as well as economic disruption. By declaring that he intends to allow Donald Trump back on the site, he has signaled his opposition to policing it for political disinformation and misinformation. He has identified himself as a “free speech absolutist” and has repeated several times that he opposes and will limit censorship and will likely loosen content moderation rules.

It is not unreasonable to expect that a Musk-owned and controlled Twitter will, in the name of free speech, allow disinformation and misinformation to be tweeted ad infinitum so long as it discredits his political opponents and celebrates and enriches himself and his allies.

Mr. Musk is correct that “free speech” must be honored and protected. But is it not time that we, as a people and a nation, engage in a wide-ranging, inclusive public debate on when and how free speech creates “a clear and present danger” — as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote a century ago — and whether we need government to find a way, through law or regulation or persuasion, to prevent this from happening?

Elon Musk is a product of his — and our — times. Rather than debate or deride his influence, we must recognize that he is not the self-made genius businessman he plays in the media. Instead, his success was prompted and paid for by taxpayer money and abetted by government officials who have allowed him and other billionaire businessmen to exercise more and more control over our economy and our politics.

Who is David DePape – Man Who Attacked Nancy Pelosi’s Husband?

Pelosi attack suspect David DePape embraced hate speech, multiple  conspiracy theories - CBS San Francisco

David DePape

Dear Commons Community,

David DePape,  the man accused of breaking into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California home and severely beating her husband with a hammer, appears to have made racist and often rambling posts online, including some that questioned the results of the 2020 election, defended former President Donald Trump and echoed QAnon conspiracy theories.  As reported by The San Francisco Chronicle and the Associated Press.

David DePape, 42, grew up in Powell River, British Columbia, before leaving about 20 years ago to follow an older girlfriend to San Francisco. A street address listed for DePape in the Bay Area college town of Berkeley led to a post office box at a UPS Store.

DePape was arrested at the Pelosi home early Friday. San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she expected to file multiple felony charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and elder abuse.

Stepfather Gene DePape said the suspect had lived with him in Canada until he was 14 and had been a quiet boy.

“David was never violent that I seen and was never in any trouble although he was very reclusive and played too much video games,” Gene DePape said.

He said he hasn’t seen his stepson since 2003 and tried to get in touch with him several times over the years without success.

“In 2007, I tried to get in touch but his girlfriend hung up on me when I asked to talk to him,“ Gene DePape said.

David DePape was known in Berkeley as a pro-nudity activist who had picketed naked at protests against local ordinances requiring people to be clothed in public.

Gene DePape said the girlfriend whom his son followed to California was named Gypsy and they had two children together. DePape also has a child with a different woman, his stepfather said.

Photographs published by The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday identified DePape frolicking nude outside city hall with dozens of others at the 2013 wedding of pro-nudity activist Gypsy Taub, who was marrying another man. Taub did not respond Friday to calls or emails.

A 2013 article in The Chronicle described David DePape as a “hemp jewelry maker” who lived in a Victorian flat in Berkeley with Taub, who hosted a talk show on local public-access TV called “Uncensored 9/11,” in which she appeared naked and pushed conspiracy theories that the 2001 terrorist attacks were “an inside job.”

A pair of web blogs posted in recent months online under the name David DePape contained rants about technology, aliens, communists, religious minorities, transexuals and global elites.

An Aug. 24 entry titled “Q,” displayed a scatological collection of memes that included photos of the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and made reference to QAnon, the baseless pro-Trump conspiracy theory that espouses the belief that the country is run by a deep state cabal of child sex traffickers, satanic pedophiles and baby-eating cannibals.

“Big Brother has deemed doing your own research as a thought crime,” read a post that appeared to blend references to QAnon with George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

In an Aug. 25 entry titled “Gun Rights,” the poster wrote: “You no longer have rights. Your basic human rights hinder Big Brothers ability to enslave and control you in a complete and totalizing way.”

The web hosting service WordPress removed one of the sites Friday afternoon for violating its terms of service.

On a different site, someone posting under DePape’s name repeated false claims about COVID vaccines and wearing masks, questioned whether climate change is real and displayed an illustration of a zombified Hillary Clinton dining on human flesh.

There appeared to be no direct posts about Pelosi, but there were entries defending former President Donald Trump and Ye, the rapper formally known as Kayne West who recently made antisemitic comments.

In other posts, the writer said Jews helped finance Hitler’s political rise in Germany and suggested an antisemitic plot was involved in Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine.

“The more Ukrainians die NEEDLESSLY the cheaper the land will be for Jews to buy up,” the post said.

In a Sept. 27 post, the writer said any journalists who denied Trump’s false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election “should be dragged straight out into the street and shot.”

DePape appears to have been a very troubled individual!



A Fred Lane Remembrance!


Fredrick Lane

Dear Commons Community,

Last week there was a memorial service for Fred Lane, professor emeritus in the Baruch College School of Public Affairs, who died in August.  I feel bad that I was not able to attend this service because I was recovering from COVID and still testing positive for the virus.

I met Fred fifty years ago as a student in the MPA program at Baruch.  He was a first-rate instructor and provided a good deal of guidance to students especially those of us interested in pursuing a career in higher education.  However, he went beyond the typical faculty adviser role and advised me on family and personal matters.  In 1974, on his suggestion, I moved to Pocantico Hills close to where Fred lived with his family, and where I lived for forty years.

Our paths continue to cross at CUNY.  He was always an adviser and urged me to enroll in a PhD program which I did and completed in 1985.  We became colleagues discussing issues related to CUNY where both of us spent our entire careers.  We had mutual friends and colleagues such as Donna Shalala and Matt Goldstein.

I could go on and on but in sum, Fred was a special person in my life and I miss him dearly.

Below is an obituary written by his son, Randall, which tells the warm side of Fred well.

May he rest in peace!



Dr. Frederick S. Lane

By Randall Lane

In Loving Memory: Dr. Frederick S. Lane, known far and wide simply as “Fred,” died peacefully at Cape Cod Hospital on Monday night due to complications from pulmonary fibrosis. He was 80. Or 35, if you’re measuring in Cape Cod Years.

So how does one calculate Cape Cod Years? Well, for this child of Milwaukee, who spent high school and college in Florida, an Army hitch spanning Georgia, Texas and Vietnam, a scholarly period in Syracuse and London and then some middle age in New York and Pennsylvania, Cape Cod Years are measured in the time elapsed once he finally found his forever home. Most of us will be lucky to have two or three chapters in our lives. Fred had about 10, and he made sure that last one, on Cape, was the longest and the best.

Fred Lane was an academic superstar of the highest order. For almost 50 years, he was a fixture at America’s largest urban university, the City University of New York, most notably as a professor at Baruch College, helping to launch various programs and schools around making those who run our governments and charities better leaders. He wrote definitive textbooks in the fields of public administration and nonprofit management, advised governors and chancellors, and mentored students by the score.

But we’ll leave the formidable professional accolades for other publications. This is a Cape Cod love story. And it starts with fellow academic Madeleine Wing Adler, a second marriage for them both. Her family were newcomers to Cape Cod…back in the 1630s, as any visitor to the Wing Family Fort House can see. In their new life together, which began in the 1980s, Madeleine and Fred felt this ancestral tug. They started visiting local B-and-Bs, held their wedding here, and then finally bought a house in East Sandwich, despite the ferocious weekly commute that would entail. To borrow from a friend regarding their relationship, they had what the rest of us want.

From this base, the best Fred, Cape Cod Fred, emerged. He reveled in all the rituals here: to marvel at the giant holiday glassworks and cheer for the Bourne Braves from his beach chair and gleefully trek to the dump and throw the separated garbage into the correct chutes with the satisfaction of a 12-year-old. He’d religiously eat his fried clams (extra crispy) at the Sagamore Inn, his ice cream (ok, coffee Heath Bar frozen yogurt in a waffle cone) at Sweet Caroline’s and his duck confit splurge (with a nice pinot noir) at the Belfry Inn.

The best restaurant in Sandwich, however, was wherever Fred was cooking. Before Cape Cod, he was a Chinese take-out kind of guy. Here, Fred turned himself into a truly masterful chef, creating ambitious dishes with elegant simplicity. Customers at Fisherman’s View will notice in the sheet they get at checkout a recipe for cioppino, attributed simply to Cape Cod Fred.

And Cape Cod Fred, true to his field of study, made himself part of the community. Working with Madeleine, he became a big supporter of the Fund for Sandwich, a strategic committee member at the Community Health Center of Cape Cod and an eager, if often lonely, volunteer with the outnumbered Sandwich Democrats.(In lieu of flowers, the family asks that people donate in the first two organizations, and vote in November, something Fred considered a sacred American rite.)

Even in his late 70s, the Vietnam War veteran decided to take on one more mission: spearheading the opposition to the proposed 5,000-acre machine gun firing range at Joint Base Cape Cod. A lifelong advocate for accountability and transparency borne from his Army service, he couldn’t understand why we’d knowingly start dumping lead, and noise, into one of the most environmentally fragile (and economically important) spots in the northeast, given that Massachusetts already has an alternative site operational, or stomach the sneaky tactics of those determined to quietly push it through. Captain Lane wrote op-eds for the Boston Globe, The Cape Cod Times and this publication, fighting bullets with words, until the project was shelved (at least for now – let’s stay on it).

Besides Madeleine, Fred leaves behind two sons: Rand, a journalist of some repute who now writes an occasional obituary for The Sandwich Enterprise, and Cary, who took over the family business, as a top professor at CUNY and overall good guy; two granddaughters, Sabrina and Chloe, who inherit his love for learning and Sweet Caroline’s, not always in that order; and a chosen family that numbers anywhere from about 10, if measured in the loved ones he shared holidays and regular visits with, to 10,000, if measured in people who cherished him for his direct effect on their lives.

Fred cut the kind of swath that demands a Viking funeral. Instead, this Friday, he’ll get a Sandwich one. A memorial service at the Belfry (a church-turned-restaurant is his kind of spirituality); an interment at the Sandwich Town Cemetery, where he’ll rest next to his beloved stepson, J. Peter Adler; and then a reception back at the bar of the Sagamore Inn, an Irish wake for a Jewish great, where friends and family will share eggplant parmesan, those crispy fried clams and stories about of someone who now belongs forever to Cape Cod.

University of Florida faculty vote against selection of Sen. Ben Sasse as president questioning the search process!


Dear Commons Community,

The University of Florida Faculty Senate approved a no-confidence resolution yesterday on the selection process to appoint US Sen. Ben Sasse as the next president, officials said.

The 67 to 15 vote comes after Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, became the only person considered for the high-ranking position at one of Florida’s largest universities. His candidacy sparked controversy on campus partially due to his 2015 comments on LGBTQ+ rights after the US Supreme Court ruled to guarantee same-sex marriage at the federal level.  as reported by CNN and other news media.

When pressed about the comments during an on-campus forum earlier this month, Sasse said the decision was “the law of the land,” adding that it wasn’t going to change in the near future, The Independent Florida Alligator reported.

When asked about promoting diversity at the university, Sasse said, “I want us to figure it out by listening to our community and our conversation, who is not feeling included and how do we tackle those problems and reduce those barriers,” according to the Alligator.

Following the high court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage, Sasse took the stance that only a man and a woman should get married and create a family.

“The Supreme Court once again overstepped its Constitutional role by acting as a super-legislature and imposing its own definition of marriage on the American people rather than allowing voters to decide in the states,” Sasse said in a June 2015 statement that remains on his official government website.

The Faculty Senate emergency meeting yesterday included an extensive discussion on the selection process for president, including requests for more clarity on the process. Ultimately, the faculty senate voted to approve the no-confidence resolution.

Members of the faculty senate also heard from three faculty members who served on the Board of Trustees selection committee that unanimously supported Sasse’s appointment.

Dr. Lisa Lundy, a professor with the School of Agricultural Education and Communication, served on the search committee and explained how Sasse became the sole candidate when other candidates decided they didn’t want to be named publicly unless they were the sole finalist.

“I think the situation was that all of the candidates were in positions that they felt could be compromised if people found that they were in the running for another job,” Lundy said.

At least one attendee asked if the LGBTQ+ community came up in the interview discussions with Sasse.

Dr. David Bloom, another member of the selection committee, said that was the first question that he asked Sasse.

According to Bloom, Sasse said he was “supporting his constituency in Nebraska, but he would be supporting the constituency of the faculty, staff, the students at UF if he were to become president.” Bloom added that he felt the responses were genuine.

After the discussion, many expressed a desire for more transparency in the selection process, acknowledging that a new state law creates a challenge in disclosing the identities of the applicants throughout the selection process.

Before his election to the US Senate in 2014, Sasse was president of Midland University, a Lutheran liberal arts school in Nebraska with an enrollment of about 1,600.

Earlier this month, a source told CNN that Sasse would resign by the end of the year to take on the role at the Florida university.

I would be surprised if Sasse is not appointed!



Former GOP Congressman Paul Ryan – “Trump is a 2024 loser”

Trump Lashes Out at 'Pathetic Loser' Paul Ryan and 'Lame' Fox News

Dear Commons Community,

Though two years away,  former Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who served as speaker of the House from 2015 to 2019, does not think the Republicans can win in 2024 if former President Donald Trump is once again the nominee.

“It’s going to be palpable in 2024 that because we want to win and beat the Democrats, we know as a party we’re better off with somebody else to be our nominee to guarantee a victory because we know we lose with Trump,” Ryan told Yahoo Finance Live. “It’s the suburban voter. They’re the big difference maker.”

According to the Brookings Institution, large suburban areas during the 2020 election “registered a net Democratic advantage” for the first time since Barack Obama’s victory in 2008. In 2016, Trump won suburban counties by roughly 1.2 million votes, but in 2020, President Biden won them by 613,000 votes.

President Trump is flanked by Sen. Mitch McConnell and House Majority Leader Paul Ryan while speaking during a meeting with congressional leaders on September 5, 2018. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

In Wisconsin, Ryan’s home state, a majority of voters opted for Biden over Trump in 2020, even though Republicans won more seats in the House of Representatives from the state.

“In Wisconsin, 64,000 Wisconsinites voted for all the Republicans on the ballot and not Donald Trump,” Ryan said. “That gets translated across the country in the swing states. It’s a huge difference-maker. We are going to want to win come 2024, and that means we need to elect somebody to be our nominee that’s going to better deliver a victory. And I think it’s going to be pretty well known at that time.”

Ryan is confident that the Republican Party can retake control of the House of Representatives and possibly even the Senate given the negative sentiment towards the U.S. economy.

“Everybody knows we’re in or headed to a recession,” Ryan said. “The last headline inflation numbers, core inflation numbers, were really high. So I think people got more concerned about their pocketbooks, about jobs, about what the economy is going to look like than they were about social issues.”

Due to the shift in priorities, even Trump-backed nominees can help the party come out on top, simply because they “are not him,” Ryan said, referring to the former president.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather to demand for a forensic audit of the 2020 presidential election in front of the Michigan State Capitol, February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Emily Elconin

“Look, we lost the House, the Senate, and the White House in the span of two years with Trump,” he said. “Never before has my party lost this much that fast. So my point is come 2024, we want to win. We want to beat Biden or the Democrats, whoever they’re running. And we know — it’s just a factual statement, polling-wise — we are worse off with Trump as our nominee than with somebody else.”

According to the latest polls compiled by FiveThirtyEight, more voters would choose Biden over Trump in the 2024 presidential election. Yet, Biden’s approval rating is just 40%. Consequently, Republicans are heavily favored to win the House and may have a chance at flipping the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections.

“I think what voters want to do is send a check on Washington,” Ryan said. “They don’t want one-party rule by the left. And that’s why I feel pretty confident in saying that we’re going to win the House, and I think we’ve got a really good chance of winning the Senate. And I think in large measure because voters want to check on all this leftward lurch, and they want some calm economic policies. That’s why I think we’re peaking at the right time. That’s why I think the momentum is with us right now. Two weeks out, I feel very good, much better than I felt back in August.”

Ryan has it right! The rest of the Republicans have to face up publicly to the fact that Trump is  a loser!


Albuquerque Cosper Head – Man who dragged officer into mob on January 6th gets over 7 years in prison!

Albuequerque Head pleads not guilty

Albuquerque Cosper Head

Dear Commons Community,

Albuquerque Cosper Head who dragged a police officer into a mob of rioters, initiating one of the most harrowing acts of violence during the U.S. Capitol attack on  January 6th, was sentenced yesterday to more than seven years in prison.

Head declined to address the court before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced him to seven years and six months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. The judge said Head was responsible for “some of the darkest acts committed on one of our nation’s darkest days.”

Head’s prison sentence is six months shy of the statutory maximum in his case. It’s also the second-longest so far among hundreds of cases arising from the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building as Congress prepared to certify President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“The dark shadow of tyranny unfortunately has not gone away,” Jackson said. “There are people who are still disseminating the lie that the election was stolen. They’re doing it today. And the people who are stoking that anger for their own selfish purposes, they need to think about the havoc they’ve wreaked, the lives they’ve ruined.”

Head engaged in some of the most barbaric violence during the Capitol riot, repeatedly assaulting police officers who were guarding a tunnel on the Lower West Terrace, according to prosecutors.

Metropolitan Police Department Officer Michael Fanone was on the front lines of the battle for control of the tunnel entrance when Head grabbed him. Head yelled “I’ve got one!” as he wrapped his arms around Fanone’s neck and dragged him into the crowd outside the tunnel, prosecutors said.

“He was your prey. He was your trophy,” Jackson told Head, 43.

Head restrained Fanone while other rioters beat and shocked the officer with a stun gun at the base of his skull. Fanone lost consciousness during the assault, which his body camera captured on video.

“Although Head was separated from Officer Fanone in the moments that followed, Head would have been able to hear the sound of the taser being activated again, Officer Fanone’s screams of agony, and the yells from another rioter to ‘Kill him with his own gun!’” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.

During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Fanone said the attack gave him a heart attack and a traumatic brain injury and ultimately cost him his career. He has written a book about his Jan. 6 experience and testified at a hearing held by the House committee investigating the insurrection.

“I would trade all of this attention to return to policing, but I can’t do that,” he said. “And the catalyst for my loss of career and the suffering that I’ve endured in the past 18 months is Albuquerque Head.”

Other rioters have been charged with assaulting Fanone, including Kyle Young, an Iowa man who grabbed Fanone by the wrist while others yelled, “Kill him!” and “Get his gun!” Jackson sentenced Young last month to seven years and two months in prison.

Daniel “D.J.” Rodriguez, a California man charged with using the stun gun on Fanone, is scheduled to go on trial in February 2023. Thomas Sibick, a riot defendant from New York, is charged with stealing the officer’s badge and police radio during the melee.

Head, a construction worker from Kingsport, Tennessee, was arrested in April 2021 and pleaded guilty to an assault charge in May 2022. He has a criminal record that includes approximately 45 previous arrests.

Prosecutors recommended a prison sentence of eight years, the statutory maximum sentence that he faced.

Fanone also asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence. He recalled how Head initially told him, “I’m going to try to help you out here. You hear me?” before shouting that he “got one.”

“I would ask you to show Mr. Head the same mercy that he showed me on January 6th, which, in case there’s any question in this courtroom, is none,” Fanone said.

Head’s attorney, Nicholas Wallace, requested a five-year prison sentence.

“There is no evidence that Mr. Head made advance plans with much effort or that he came to D.C. prepared for a battle. His series of bad decisions, as outlined above, while serious, is far from the worst conduct that day,” Wallace wrote.

Head told FBI agents that he drove to Washington, D.C., to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally, where then-President Donald Trump addressed a crowd of supporters. Joining the mob at the tunnel, Head wielded a riot shield as a weapon and used a second shield to shove against Fanone and other officers, according to prosecutors.

“When Officer Fanone used his hand to brace himself on the doorframe in the midst of the struggle, Head struck the officer’s hand with his own hand, causing the officer to lose his grip on the doorframe,” prosecutors wrote.

After he pulled Fanone into the crowd, Head became separated from the officer. When others in the crowd surrounded Fanone to protect him from his assailants, Head repeatedly reached toward the officer and tried to grab him again, prosecutors said. Fanone’s body camera showed him collapsing after his protectors escorted him back to the police line.

Fanone’s partner tried to revive him, saying, “Come on, Mike. Come on, buddy. We’re going duck hunting soon.”

Regaining consciousness after nearly two and a half minutes, Fanone asked, “Did we take that door back?”

“The courage and sacrifice that Officer Fanone showed on that day is incredible, and we owe him a debt of gratitude for what he has lost,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Cara Gardner told the judge.

Approximately 900 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. More than 430 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanor offenses. Over 300 have been sentenced, with roughly half getting terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to 10 years, according to an AP review of court records.

More than 100 police officers were injured at the Capitol. Around 20 defendants have been sentenced for assaulting police on Jan. 6, the Justice Department says.

Head and his like deserve more than seven years in prison!



Elon Musk Completes $44 Billion Deal to Own Twitter – Fires Senior Executives!


Dear Commons Community,

Last night, Elon Musk closed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter. He also began cleaning house, with at least four top Twitter executives — including the chief executive and chief financial officer — getting fired. As reported by The New York Times.

The closing of the deal, which followed months of drama and legal challenges as Mr. Musk changed his mind about buying the company, sets Twitter on an uncertain course. Mr. Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist,” has said that he wants to make the social media platform a more freewheeling place for all types of commentary and that he would “reverse the permanent ban” of former President Donald J. Trump from the service.

Mr. Musk’s open approach to speech on Twitter could exacerbate long simmering issues of toxic content and misinformation, affecting political debates around the world. Early tests will come within days, when Brazil elects its president and American voters go to the polls on Nov. 8 for the midterm elections. Twitter said it would prohibit misleading claims about voting and the outcome of elections, but that was before Mr. Musk owned it.

“There could be real-world consequences to his leadership,” David Kaye, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who worked with the United Nations on issues of free speech, said of Mr. Musk’s ownership of Twitter. “To the extent that world leaders see they have this space and it’s unmoderated, they could push to see how far they can go.”

The acquisition has been celebrated by some Republicans, who have argued that Twitter censored conservative viewpoints. Researchers have said Twitter’s rules have been essential to countering online hate speech and disinformation. Some advertisers have worried about allowing their brands to appear alongside controversial tweets.

“It’s a ‘back-to-the-future’ reversion to content rules circa 2010, but one that ignores the lived experience over the last decade,” said Colin Crowell, Twitter’s former head of global public policy, who left the company in 2019. “People eventually realize that the Wild West needs a sheriff, both for ensuring the safety of citizens but also for enhancing the prospects for commerce.”

Mr. Musk has also promised other sweeping changes at Twitter, including new leadership, job cuts and the pursuit of new ways to make money. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco and employs more than 7,500 people, has had difficulties consistently growing its advertising-based business and attracting new users. The firings of the top company executives on Thursday were a sign that Mr. Musk intended to move swiftly.

Mr. Musk, 51, will be remaking Twitter without having to disclose how it is performing every few months. By taking the company private, he does not need to regularly answer to shareholders and can make changes to the service away from the public’s prying eyes.

Mr. Musk, who also runs the electric carmaker Tesla and the rocket company SpaceX, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

May the tweets be with him!