Meghan McCain Socks it to Donald Trump:  “I like people who aren’t indicted.”

Meghan McCain on Leaving 'The View,' Feuds, Toxic Work Environment - Variety

Meghan McCain.  (ABC Broadcasting)

Dear Commons Community,

Meghan McCain, media personality and daughter of the late Senator and American war hero John McCain, has a long memory. A conservative of the old school, like her father, she has not warmed to the MAGA wing of the GOP, especially its foremost proponent, Donald Trump.

With news breaking that Trump is being indicted by a New York grand jury, Meghan McCain’s comment on the event was limited to a single sentence — though its echoes spoke volumes to all the establishment Republican figures with whom John McCain proudly claimed solidarity, and who practiced a bygone style of decorum that has been eviscerated in public by Trump.

Referencing an insult Trump once hurled at her late father, McCain wrote — without providing any context: “I like people who aren’t indicted.”

Those echoes refer to an egregious breach of decorum Trump committed in 2015, when he mocked Senator McCain’s war hero status. “He was a war hero because he was captured,” Trump said about McCain, adding: “I like people who weren’t captured.”

Hence the fodder Meghan McCain’s long-harbored revenge tweet: “I like people who aren’t indicted.”

Taunting McCain further, showing a disrespect that has since come to symbolize Trump’s routine treatment of his opponents, Trump added to his taunts by saying of McCain’s failed presidential run in 2008: “He lost and let us down. I’ve never liked him as much after that.”

Meghan McCain, evidently, was never going to forget.

Nor should she!



Video: US Congressman Jamaal Bowman Explodes at Republican Colleagues – “They’re all cowards! They won’t do anything to save the lives of our children at all. Cowards!”

Dear Commons Community,

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) gave an explosive condemnation of Republican opposition to gun control legislation on Wednesday.

“They’re all cowards! They won’t do anything to save the lives of our children at all. Cowards,” Bowman said to reporters outside the House chamber as lawmakers were exiting.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who chairs the pro-gun Second Amendment Caucus, asked Bowman what he was talking about as he was walking past.

“I’m talking about gun violence!” Bowman shouted.

Massie began making an argument that schoolteachers should carry guns, incensing Bowman.

“Carry guns?” Bowman exclaimed. “More guns lead to more death.”

He accused Massie of “carrying water for the gun lobby.”

Massie then told Bowman to calm down.

“Calm down? Children are dying!” Bowman shouted. “The solution is not arming teachers.”

Massie once posted a Christmas photo of his family toting guns with the caption: “ps. Santa, please bring ammo.”

Bowman’s outburst comes in the wake of Monday’s mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee. Three 9-year-old children and three adults were killed by a shooter who, according to police, legally purchased seven firearms, including the two assault-style rifles and the pistol they were carrying, during the attack.

Many Americans, including President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers, have called for more effective gun control laws, such as restoring an assault weapon ban, following the attack. However, they face opposition from Republicans, many of whom receive substantial campaign donations from the gun lobby.

Bowman has it right!  Republicans are “cowards” when it comes to the NRA gun lobby!



New Mexico to Provide Free Meals to All Public School Kids – Joining California, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado!

New Mexico asks kids to rate school lunches, breakfasts in survey

Dear Commons Community,

Students in New Mexico can focus on their studies and not their bellies under a new law providing free meals to school kids from every economic background.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) on Monday signed  legislation, which ensures that more than $22 million will go toward free food for all K-12 students at public schools, regardless of their parents’ income.

New Mexico joins several other states including –  California, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota ― in passing a permanent universal meals program for students. 

“When we feed our children, we’re feeding our future,” Grisham said in a statement. “These investments today will yield benefits tomorrow through generations of healthier New Mexicans.”

About 309,000 New Mexico students are currently eligible for free and reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program, and the new law could affect around 70,000 kids who would otherwise need to pay, according to state education department data cited by The Associated Press.

The new law also focuses on using locally grown produce. Nearly 170 farmers, ranchers and food businesses currently sell locally produced goods to schools in 19 New Mexico counties, the AP reported.

Earlier this month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed a similar bill into law guaranteeing free meals for school kids. Video showed a group of children hugging Walz after the signing.

While New Mexico’s free meals bill passed unanimously in the state’s House and Senate, some Republican lawmakers in Minnesota were more skeptical.

“I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry,” state Sen. Steve Drazkowski (R) said on the Senate floor in St. Paul before voting against the legislation. “I have yet to meet a person in Minnesota that says they don’t have access to enough food to eat.”

Drazkowski represents Wabasha County, where more than 8% of kids lived in poverty in 2021, up from about 7% the previous year, according to data sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau.

New Mexico’s new law takes effect July 1.

We need more states to consider free meals for kids in school!


Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and tech leaders issue dire warning on artificial intelligence – Call for a pause!

A temporary pause on training extra large language models

Dear Commons Community,

A group of technology industry executives and academics have signed an open letter calling for at least a six-month pause on large, open experiments with artificial intelligence.

Companies researching AI are “locked in an out-of-control race to develop and deploy ever more powerful digital minds that no one — not even their creators — can understand, predict, or reliably control,” the letter reads. “If such a pause cannot be enacted quickly, governments should step in and institute a moratorium.”

The letter warns of potentially apocalyptic scenarios.

“Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us?” it asks. “Should we risk loss of control of our civilization? Such decisions must not be delegated to unelected tech leaders.”

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, IBM chief scientist Grady Booch, stability AI CEO Emad Mostaque and tech ethicist Tristan Harris all signed the letter, which was released yesterday.

Academics who signed it include Stuart Russell, who heads the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence, Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Yuval Noah Harari and Sean O’Heigeartaigh, the executive director of Cambridge University’s Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.  As reported  by NBC News.

Concerns about advanced AI have been fodder for science fiction authors for decades, brought to the mainstream in films like the Armageddon-heavy “Terminator” franchise or even the subtler “Her.” Now, with modern AI development having accelerated at a rate that has shocked even those close to it (OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has repeatedly called for regulation of the industry, although he was not among the initial round of signatories on the letter), more technologists are beginning to warn that the time to act is now.

Artificial intelligence tools that are available to the public are skyrocketing in popularity and capability. ChatGPT, a stunningly adept chatbot that uses language fluently but struggles with accuracy, became by some metrics the fastest-growing consumer application in history in January. Its parent company, OpenAI, released a new version of its AI software two months later. And tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Snapchat have rushed to incorporate such technology into their platform.

Industry watchdogs have warned that those companies are effectively testing out new technology on the general public, and that the companies behind them are deploying them without considering broader consequences, such as how they could disrupt labor markets.

While many agree that the AI industry is moving ahead dangerously quickly, some ethicists have criticized the letter for focusing on theoretical, eventual harms from AI.

Sarah Myers West, the managing director of the AI Now Institute, a nonprofit that studies how AI technology affects society, said the letter misses some major concerns with the AI industry.

She said companies like Google and Microsoft are poised to dominate the U.S. AI market, that the technology might put large numbers of creative workers out of work, and that the companies are overhyping what their products can do. Last month, the Federal Trade Commission warned existing AI companies against making potentially false claims about their products.

“By focusing on hypothetical and long-term risks, it distracts from the regulation and enforcement we need in the here and now,” Myers West said.

I think a pause is in order but I am afraid the AI cat is out of the bag!


Chaplain Barry Black: The Man Who Leads the US Senate Prayer Is Fed Up With ‘Thoughts And Prayers’

Chaplain Barry Black Appeals to Senators to Act to Prevent School Shootings  |

Dear Commons Community,

As another mass shooting took the lives of six people, including three 9-year-old children, at a Nashville, Tennessee, school, US Senate Chaplain Barry Black used his opening prayer to urge lawmakers to take action.

“Lord, when babies die at a church school, it is time for us to move beyond thoughts and prayers,” Black said as the Senate opened for business on yesterday. “Remind our lawmakers of the words of the British statesman Edmund Burke: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.’ Lord, deliver our senators from the paralysis of analysis that waits for the miraculous.”

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” is a standard political refrain right after mass shootings. Yet, gun rights advocates argue nothing more can be done to address shootings.

Black, a retired Navy rear admiral, has served as the Senate chaplain for over 20 years. He’s the first Black person to hold the position.

Although he rarely strays into politics, Black has delivered several pointed prayers over the years, scolding senators with a deep, authoritative voice. For example, during the 2013 government shutdown, he asked God to “save us from the madness” and “deliver us from the hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.”



Michigan becomes first state in decades to repeal ‘right to work’ law. Good move for unions!

New Study Analyzes the Economic and Financial Impact of Right-to-Work Laws  | Union Label and Service Trades Department, AFL-CIO

Dear Commons Community,

In a win for unions, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed  legislation repealing the state’s right-to-work law.

The move makes Michigan the first state in decades to repeal the union-restriction law. Whitmer also signed legislation restoring a prevailing wage law that the state’s Republican lawmakers repealed in 2018.  As reported by USA TODAY.

“Today, we are coming together to restore workers’ rights, protect Michiganders on the job, and grow Michigan’s middle class,” Whitmer said in a statement Friday. “Michigan workers are the most talented and hard-working in the world and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

What is ‘right to work’?

Right to work all0ws employees  to choose for themselves whether to pay union dues or fees.

According to the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute,    right-to-work laws prohibit union security agreements, which is a contract between a labor union and employers that require all employees benefiting from the union contract to pay their share of costs,

Contrary to the name, right-to-work laws make it “harder for workers’ organizations to sustain themselves financially” and “aim to undermine unions’ bargaining strength,” according to the Economic Policy Institute.

After Michigan’s move, 26 states and Guam now have right-to-work laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

How have unions responded?

Michigan’s repeal of the law is seen as a major win for labor unions.

“After decades of anti-worker attacks, Michigan has restored the balance of power for working people by passing laws to protect their freedom to bargain for the good wages, good benefits, and safe workplaces they deserve,” Ron Bieber, Michigan’s AFL-CIO president, said in a statement Friday.

How large is union membership in the United States?

Union membership has been steadily falling for decades and reached an all-time low last year. Roughly 10% of U.S. wage and salary workers were members of unions in 2022, 0.2 percentage points down from 2021 and the lowest union membership rate on record, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics.

Good news for Michigan’s unions!



Former student, Audrey Hale, kills three children, three adults at Nashville elementary school!

Nashville School Shooter Identified As Former Student Audrey Hale, 28 -  Emily CottonTop

Dear Commons Community,

A former student of a Nashville elementary school stormed her alma mater yesterday, killing three young children and three adults before responding police officers fatally shot her.

Audrey Elizabeth Hale, 28, attacked the Covenant School, a private Christian institution, with two assault-style rifles and a handgun, local police said.

In the latest mass shooting to afflict the nation, the student victims — identified as Evelyn Dieckhaus, Hallie Scruggs and William Kinney — were all just 9 years old.

Katherine Koonce, the 60-year-old head of school, Mike Hill, a 61-year-old custodian, and Cynthia Peak, a 61-year-old substitute teacher, were also killed, Nashville police officer Don Aaron said at a press conference.  As reported by various news media.

“I was literally moved to tears to see this and the kids as they were being ushered out of the building,” said Nashville Police Chief John Drake.

“When we send our kids to school or to any place of safety, we expect them to live, learn, have fun and come back from that day’s experience. We don’t anticipate things like this,” John Drake, chief of the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department, said at the third press briefing of the day.

Authorities identified the shooter as 28-year-old Audrey Hale, who was killed by officers at the scene. Police believe Hale was a former student of the school and said she was in possession of three weapons when she was killed: a rifle, an assault rifle-style pistol and a handgun. Police think that two of the three weapons were obtained legally in the Nashville area and that she has “no history at all” of past criminal activities, Drake said.

Police are investigating a “manifesto” they found at Hale’s house that includes a “map drawn out of how this was all going to take place.” There is no confirmed motive, Drake said, but police have a “theory that we may be able to talk about later.”

Authorities also plan to eventually release a video showing how the five officers who responded to the scene killed Hale, whom they believe gained access to the school by shooting through a door to the building.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper, who also spoke at the latest press conference, denounced the frequency of gun violence.

“The leading cause of kids’ death now is guns and gunfire, and that is unacceptable,” Cooper said. After decades of automobile accidents being the top killer of children in the U.S., the New England Journal of Medicine published findings last year that firearm fatalities were now the top cause.

“Guns are quick; they don’t give you much time,” Cooper added. “So even in a remarkably fast response, there was not enough time. And those guns stole precious lives from us today in Nashville.”

Tennessee has some of the weakest state gun laws in the country and lacks many of the safeguards wanted by gun reform advocates, including universal background checks, waiting periods for firearm purchases and assault weapon restrictions.

We are becoming numb in America to all the violence perpetrated by individuals who have easy access to guns.



Audrey Hale Caught on Security Camera at The Covenant School Just Before Shootings

Governor Ron DeSantis signs massive school voucher expansion bill into law in Florida!

DeSantis quickly signs voucher expansion, school choice bill into law |  WUSF Public Media

Dear Commons Community,

Every Florida family will be eligible for state money to send their children to private schools regardless of income, under a massive expansion of the state voucher program signed yesterday by Governor Ron DeSantis.

At a bill signing at Christopher Columbus High, a private boys’ school in Miami, DeSantis described the effort as the “largest expansion of education choice, not only in the history of this state, but the history of these United States. That is a big deal.”

“The state of Florida is No. 1 when it comes to education freedom and education choice, and today’s bill signing cements us in that No. 1 position,” he said.  As reported by South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The controversial bill was celebrated by GOP leaders and parents who currently use the scholarships. But it also faces fierce criticism from those who say its price tag — estimates range from $210 million to $4 billion in the first year — will devastate public schools, which educate about 87% of Florida’s students.

Critics also argue an expansion will mean more public money spent on private, mostly religious, schools that operate without state oversight.

Some of the schools hire teachers without college degrees and deny admission to certain children — most often those who don’t speak English fluently, have disabilities or are gay .

“Funneling this much in taxpayer dollars to private schools with no parameters to ensure accountability for student success is fiscally irresponsible and puts at risk the families and communities who utilize our state’s public schools and the services they provide,” said Sadaf Knight, CEO of the Florida Policy Institute, in a statement.

The think-tank opposes the expansion of Florida’s voucher programs and estimated the $4 billion hit to public schools.

Through its voucher programs, Florida currently provides scholarships to more than 252,000 children with disabilities or from low-income families.

Under the new law, the income guidelines are wiped out, though preference will be given to those from low- and middle-income backgrounds.

The result of the universal voucher law is that all of the 2.9 million public school-age children in Florida could opt for an “education savings account,” if they left public schools, and those already homeschooled or in private school could seek the money, too.

“It expands school choice to every single student in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “This bill is a major game-changer.”

Three other GOP-controlled states — Arkansas, Iowa and Utah — enacted similar legislation this year, too.

DeSantis signed the bill at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, a school with annual tuition of $15,400.

About 25% of the school’s 1,740 students now receive state scholarships, according to Step Up For Students, the private agency that administers most of the state scholarships.

Under the new law, all the high school’s students could seek state money, even those from families currently able to afford tuition on their own.

School choice advocates say all parents deserve state funding to help pay for whatever education they deem best for their children. Those parents, they add, pay taxes that support public schools their children do not attend.

“We don’t want your child to go to a school where your values are mocked and held up in derision,” said House Speaker Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, who announced the universal voucher plan on Jan. 19.

Under the new law, parents can choose a school for their children that meshes with their beliefs. “Their values and their faith respected and that’s also very, very important,” he said.

This bill will be a major blow to public education.


Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire- 112th Anniversary!

"112th Triangle Shirtwaist Fire" is written on a wreath during a gathering for a commemoration of the 112th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire at Greene Street and Washington Place on March 24, 2023, in Manhattan, New York.

Dear Commons Community,

On Saturday, people gathered in Lower Manhattan during  the 112th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire to commemorate the 146 lives lost on March 25, 1911. Mainly immigrant women and girls, the workers were locked inside the factory when a vicious fire broke out, and were left to make a horrific decision: stay in the burning factory, or jump 10 stories. Their sacrifice ultimately led to a union movement that fought for better regulations for workers and fire safety precautions in work spaces.

One of New York City’s greatest tragedies!


Andrew McCarthy: Essay on “Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking.”

An illustration of walking legs with faces on them.

Credit…Pierre Buttin

Dear Commons Community,

Andrew McCarthy, a writer and actor, had a guest essay yesterday in The New York Times, entitled, “Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking.”   McCarthy writes eloquently in this piece for the emotional, creative, and the”power” of walking whether in the woods or on the sidewalks of our cities.  He quotes a pantheon of writers, philosophers, and naturalists such as Charles Dickens, Virginia Wolf, Jean Rousseau, J.K. Rowling, and John Muir who extol the benefits of a good walk. 

I have been a walker my entire life.  Growing up in the South Bronx as a toddler (we did not own a car), my father took me for a walk every Sunday morning.  We walked over the 152nd Street Bridge (no longer there) to cross the New York Central Railroad tracks for a stroll along the Grand Concourse or in Franz Sigel Park.  We did not say much to each other but we just enjoyed the time walking along one of the most beautiful areas of New York City.  When I became a father, I took my son, Michael and daughter Dawn Marie, on walks.  When my daughter’s family would visit and stay with us (they live outside of Seattle), for several weeks at Christmas and in the summer, I would take my grandchildren, Michael and Ali, for walks.  I still generally take a walk every evening between dinner and bedtime. I can attest that everything McCarthy says is true.

Walking is good for body and soul!

McCarthy’s entire essay can be red below. 


The New York Times

Whatever the Problem, It’s Probably Solved by Walking

by Andrew McCarthy

March 25, 2023

Walking is the worst-kept secret I know. Its rewards hide under every step.

Perhaps because we take walking so much for granted, many of us often ignore its ample gifts. In truth, I doubt I would walk often or very far if its sole benefit was physical, despite the abundant proof of its value in that regard. There’s something else at play in walking that interests me more. And with the arrival of spring, attention must be paid.

I discovered the power of ambling more than a quarter century ago when I traipsed 500 miles across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route. I stumbled upon the Camino by accident and then trudged across Spain with purpose. I’ve been a walker ever since. And I’m not the only one.

Hippocrates proclaimed that “walking is man’s best medicine.” The good doctor also knew that walking provided more than mere physical benefits when he suggested: “If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, go for another walk.” He was alluding to what so many who came after would attest, that walking not only nourishes the body but also soothes the mind while it burns off tension and makes our troubles recede into a more manageable perspective.

Soren Kierkegaard agreed when he confessed, “I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” And Charles Dickens was even more direct. “If I could not walk far and fast,” he wrote, “I think I should just explode and perish.”

But walking does more than keep the devil from the door. The Welsh poet (and sometime vagabond) W.H. Davies wrote:

Now shall I walk
Or shall I ride?
“Ride,” Pleasure said.
“Walk,” Joy replied.

Walking buoys the spirits in a way that feels real and earned. It feels owned. And walking, like a generous partner, meets us more than halfway.

There’s abundant testimony that a good ramble fuels creativity. William Wordsworth swore by walking, as did Virginia Woolf. So did William Blake. Thomas Mann assured us, “Thoughts come clearly while one walks.” J.K. Rowling observed that there is “nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas,” while the turn-of-the-20th-century novelist Elizabeth von Arnim concluded that walking “is the perfect way of moving if you want to see into the life of things.”

And ask any deep thinker about the benefits of what Bill Bryson calls the “tranquil tedium” walking elicits. Jean-Jacques Rousseau admitted, “There is something about walking that animates and activates my ideas.” Even the resolutely pessimistic Friedrich Nietzsche had to give it up for a good saunter when he allowed, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”

While my own ruminations may not approach the lofty heights to which Nietzsche referred, a good long walk, or even one not so long, begins to carve out space between my thoughts that allows clarity to rise up through my shoes in a way that no other mode of transport does. The travel writer and scholar Patrick Leigh Fermor put it succinctly when he said, “All horsepower corrupts.”

Until I went to Spain with the sole mission of crossing the country on foot, I often considered walking a waste of my time. The Camino changed that. The monthlong walk revealed me to myself in a way nothing else had — my looping pattern of thinking, my habitual emotion cycles, my fearful nature. The Camino wore down my resistance to seeing myself, and then step after step built me back up. It altered my place in the world.

Instead of viewing walking as simply the slowest way to get somewhere, I grew to see it not only as a means to an end, but as the event itself. And since I walked the Camino for a second time last year with my 19-year-old son, I’ve come to understand walking as among the most valuable things I can do.

The writer Rebecca Solnit pointed out that walking “is how the body measures itself against the earth.” And through such physical communion, walking offers up its crowning gift by bringing us emotionally, even spiritually, home to ourselves. When on the last day of our walk my son turned to me and said, “Dad, that’s the only ‘10 out of 10’ thing I’ve ever done in my life,” I knew he had arrived not only in Santiago de Compostela, but, more meaningfully, in himself.

The great naturalist John Muir keenly observed, “I only went out for a walk and … going out, I found, was really going in.” Has anyone ever emerged from ambling through nature for an hour and regretted their improved state of being? Perhaps this is what that dedicated walker Henry David Thoreau was referring to when he wrote, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.”

So the secret is out there. It’s under the leaves on the trail. It’s right there on the sidewalk. Spring has sprung. Lace up.

Andrew McCarthy is a writer and an actor and the author of, most recently, “Walking With Sam: A Father, a Son, and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain.”