Video: Michael Cohen Calls Trump Attorney Todd Blanche a SLOAT – Stupidest Attorney of All Time!

Dear Commons Community,

I saw an interview (see video below) last night on MSNBC during which Michael Cohen socked it to Todd Blanche, Trump’s attorney during the hush-money trial.   Cohen turned an insult from Blanche right back at him after the former president was convicted yesterday on all 34 charges in his trial  in New York City.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted during the interview that Blanche had said the former president was heavily involved in every substantive decision in his defense and asked Cohen if he saw Trump’s fingerprints on those tactics.

Cohen, a former private attorney and fixer for Trump and a star witness in the Manhattan trial, pointed to a moment during closing arguments when Blanche called Cohen the “GLOAT,” or “greatest liar of all time.”

“It’s a Donald Trump fourth-grade playground bullying type of tactic,” he said, then he put his own spin on that acronym for Blanche.

“I was going to call him a SLOAT, which is the stupidest lawyer of all time,” he said, specifically because of how Blanche allowed Trump to remain involved in his own defense. “You cannot listen to your client when you are trying to create a defense ― a defense that is as important as this one is.”

He said Blanche is now the attorney who lost the first criminal case against a former president.

“It is definitively the stupidest lawyer of all time,” he said. “It just made no sense at all… that’s not how you run a good defense.”

I don’t blame Cohen for gloating.  Blanche was merciless in his cross examination of Cohen during the trial.

Payback is a “b…h”!




Dear Commons Community,

Former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all counts in his New York criminal hush money trial, which centered on allegations that he falsified business records to hide a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election. Trump is the first former U.S. president convicted of a crime.

Prosecutors initially charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. They alleged Trump falsified the records to conceal unlawfully interfering in the 2016 presidential election through the $130,000 hush money payment, making the falsification charges felonies.

The more-than six weeks-long trial against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee was the first criminal trial in United States history against a former president. Trump’s conviction marks another historic moment, with an uncertain impact on the 2024 presidential election.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said he did not have any response to Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the prosecutor and his staff, but he praised his office.

“I did my job. Our job is to follow the facts and the law without fear or favor. That’s exactly what we did here,” Bragg said. “I did my job. We did our job. Many voices out there. The only voice that matters is the voice of the jury and the jury has spoken.”

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg dodged a question about whether he would seek jail time when Trump is sentenced July 11.

“We will speak at that time,” Bragg said.

Bragg also declined to say whether he would oppose a request from Trump to remain free while he appeals the verdict. Bragg said prosecutors would respond formally at sentencing July 11.

“I’m going to let our words in court speak for themselves,” Bragg said.

Justice served!





Marymount Manhattan College to Merge with Northeastern University!

Dear Commons Community,

New York City’s Marymount Manhattan College has agreed to merge with Northeastern University.

Marymount Manhattan’s name will change to Northeastern University-New York City when it joins Northeastern’s network, which includes campuses in London, Silicon Valley and Toronto. The merger is subject to approval by state and federal regulators and accreditation agencies, a process that could take two years or more.

Officials from Northeastern put the decision in the context of the troubling economics facing smaller colleges and universities — and Northeastern’s success with programs that give students on-the-job experience. As reported by The New York Times.

Joseph Aoun, the president of Northeastern, said he wanted to tap a far larger market for lifelong learners in New York — people who need to “re-skill and upskill” as technology reshapes the job market. He said that Marymount Manhattan, like Northeastern, had “placed great emphasis on interdisciplinary and experiential learning,” making the two schools a good fit.

“We want to be in New York,” Aoun said. “We like Marymount Manhattan because Marymount Manhattan is a small institution, but it’s an institution that likes experiential learning.” Aoun also said there was room for a larger school with a broader reach in New York. “No institution, even the constellation of institutions that exists in New York, can meet all the needs.”

Marymount Manhattan began as a two-year women’s college in 1936, became a four-year school 12 years later and awarded degrees to its first male graduates in 1973.

Marymount Manhattan has been known for its performing arts programs, particularly in theater, and for a prison education program at two state facilities in Westchester County. But Aoun noted that Marymount Manhattan offers 34 majors, in everything from behavioral neuroscience to marketing.

Marymount Manhattan officials said they had approached Northeastern, but not because financial worries had put Marymount Manhattan in immediate danger of shutting down. “This was not a reflexive act on Marymount Manhattan’s part,” Abby Fiorella, the chairwoman of the school’s trustees, said.

Marymount Manhattan blamed declining enrollments and rising operating costs for an outlook that was “not sustainable” despite a $28 million endowment. The college had about 1,450 students last fall, down from 1,915 in 2017.

Marymount Manhattan has run annual deficits of more than $1 million a year since 2020 after posting a surplus of roughly $900,000 the year before. But Fiorella and Peter Naccarato, Marymount Manhattan’s interim president, said their concern was the future and the expected decline in the number of college-age students in the Northeast.

“We saw these headwinds coming,” Fiorella said.

Northeastern said that tuition and fees for Marymount Manhattan students would not increase with the merger, beyond yearly adjustments. Northeastern, with 42,000 students across its 13 campuses, charged $63,141 for tuition and fees in the academic year that is ending, $21,271 more than Marymount Manhattan.

Marymount Manhattan’s 85 full-time faculty members will be offered one-year contracts and will be considered for faculty positions with Northeastern, the two schools said. Northeastern will assume Marymount Manhattan’s liabilities, along with its assets, which include classroom buildings on the Upper East Side.

Marymount Manhattan opened 88 years ago as an outpost of Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y., run by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic order. It became a four-year school in 1948 and independent in 1961, although three seats on Marymount Manhattan’s board are currently held by nuns from the order. Marymount College in Tarrytown merged with Fordham University in 2002; Fordham then closed that campus in 2007.

As for giving up the Marymount Manhattan name, Fiorella said: “Look, you’ve got to look at the sum of all parts. What to us was maintaining our signature performing arts program, our prison education program and our campus.”

My wife, Elaine, worked at Marymount Manhattan for several years as an assistant to its Provost, David Podell. It was a fine institution with many excellent programs.

Good luck with the merger!


Fox News anchor Shannon Bream schools Alina Habba: Biden ‘not responsible’ for Trump “hush-money” trial!

Habba, Bream and Trump. Source:  Mega.

Dear Commons Community,

Fox News anchor and legal analyst Shannon Bream pushed back on an assertion made by Alina Habba, one of Donald Trump’s attorneys, that President Biden is responsible for the criminal charges the former president faces in New York.  As reported by The Hill.

“And Joe Biden unfortunately can’t really do anything in office,” Habba said as she joined Bream, the host of “Fox News Sunday” who was broadcasting for much of the afternoon from outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump’s trial is taking place. “So he’s got to use the same means as somebody who’s just trying to have a quick slip and fall and make money. And that is, frankly, what we’re seeing right now.

“This is exactly a Biden show because he’s got to distract the American people,” Habba continued.

“But the Biden administration is not responsible for this trial,” Bream interjected.

“How can you say the Biden administration is not responsible?” Habba shot back.

“It’s a state trial,” Bream explained. “It’s [Manhattan District Attorney] Alvin Bragg. Whether you think there’s a political motive for him, it’s not connected to the DOJ. I mean, the feds passed on these election charges.”

After Habba suggested logs showing state officials in New York and Georgia visiting the White House were proof of political influence in Trump’s prosecution, Bream pushed back by saying, “The feds passed on these cases, is the point I’m making.”

Trump faces 34 charges in New York in connection with allegations that he falsified business records to conceal hush money payments just before the 2016 election to women who said they had affairs with him.

The former president has pleaded not guilty in the hush money case, and his political allies have repeatedly said that the charges against him are political and meant to keep him from winning a second term in the White House this fall.

A jury in New York began deliberating a verdict in the case on Wednesday morning.

Trump also faces two separate criminal cases over his efforts to remain in office after the 2020 election, as well as a federal case over his retention of White House records after the end of his term.

Every once in a while, Fox News can stand the truth.

Thank you, Ms. Bream!


OpenAI Says It Has Begun Training a New Flagship A.I. Model

Copyright Michael Dwyer/AP Photo

Dear Commons Community,

OpenAI announced yesterday that it had begun training a new flagship artificial intelligence model that would succeed the GPT-4 technology that drives its popular online chatbot, ChatGPT.

The San Francisco start-up, which is one of the world’s leading A.I. companies, said in a blog post that it expected the new model to bring “the next level of capabilities” as it strove to build “artificial general intelligence,” or A.G.I., a machine that can do anything the human brain can do. The new model would be an engine for A.I. products including chatbots, digital assistants akin to Apple’s Siri, search engines and image generators.

OpenAI also said it was creating a new Safety and Security Committee to explore how it should handle the risks posed by the new model and future technologies.  As reported by The New York Times. 

“While we are proud to build and release models that are industry-leading on both capabilities and safety, we welcome a robust debate at this important moment,” the company said.

OpenAI is aiming to move A.I. technology forward faster than its rivals, while also appeasing critics who say the technology is becoming increasingly dangerous, helping to spread disinformation, replace jobs and even threaten humanity. Experts disagree on when tech companies will reach artificial general intelligence, but companies including OpenAI, Google, Meta and Microsoft have steadily increased the power of A.I. technologies for more than a decade, demonstrating a noticeable leap roughly every two to three years.

OpenAI’s GPT-4, which was released in March 2023, enables chatbots and other software apps to answer questions, write emails, generate term papers and analyze data. An updated version of the technology, which was unveiled this month and is not yet widely available, can also generate images and respond to questions and commands in a highly conversational voice.

New AI technology is indeed moving quite fast!


New Book: “Is-Online-Technology-the-Hope-in-Uncertain-Times-for-Higher-Education?”

Dear Commons Community,

In 2022 I was approached by Education Sciences to edit a special edition on the broad themes of online technology and the future of higher education.  The result of this effort is a book reprint entitled, Is-Online-Technology-the-Hope-in-Uncertain-Times-for-Higher-Education?  Here is a brief summary:

The title, “Is Online Technology the Hope in Uncertain Times for Higher Education?”,  provides the purpose of this volume, which is to offer insights into the future of higher education in light of significant advances in online technology that affect all human endeavors. These advances have evolved as a result of the natural development of new technologies as provided by global corporations, the aftereffects of the COVID pandemic, and recent advances in artificial intelligence that portend to redefine how organizations will function in a new world order. Thirty-one experts offered their research as a basis for considering the question posed in this volume. From their work, it is clear that colleges and universities are rapidly migrating to online technology in order to support instruction, research, counseling, academic services, and administrative efficiency.  As this migration evolves, consider what Drew Faust, the former president of Harvard University, has stated: “As the landscape continues to change, we must be careful to protect the ideals at the heart of higher education, ideals that serve us all well as we work together to improve the world.” 

I am pleased to say that this book reprint is available as a free download at the above website.  Printed copies will be available shortly.

Below is the table of contents.





About the Editor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii

Anthony G. Picciano
Is Online Technology the Hope in Uncertain Times for Higher Education?

Chris Dede and William Lidwell
Developing a Next-Generation Model for Massive Digital Learning

Lucas Kohnke and Andrew Jarvis
Addressing Language and Study Skills Challenges in Online Undergraduate EMI Courses

Alyse C. Hachey, Claire Wladis and Katherine M. Conway
Investigating Online versus Face-to-Face Course Dropout: Why Do Students Say They Are

Andrés F. Mena-Guacas, Jesús A. Meza-Morales, Esther Fernández and Eloy López-Meneses
Digital Collaboration in Higher Education: A Study of Digital Skills and Collaborative Attitudes
in Students from Diverse Universities

Charles Dziuban, Patsy Moskal, Annette Reiner, Adysen Cohen and Christina Carassas
Student Ratings: Skin in the Game and the Three-Body Problem

Charles R. Graham, Ganbat Danaa, Tserenchimed Purevsuren, Adriana Martínez,
Cinthia Bittencourt Spricigo, Barbara Maria Camilotti, et al.
Digital Learning Transformation in Higher Education: International Cases of University Efforts
to Evaluate and Improve Blended Teaching Readiness

Julia Lynn Parra and Suparna Chatterjee
Social Media and Artificial Intelligence: Critical Conversations and Where Do We Go from

Gregory C. Weaver, Paige L. McDonald, Gordon S. Louie and Taylor C. Woodman
Future Potentials for International Virtual Exchange in Higher Education Post COVID-19: A
Scoping Review

Catherine A. Manly
Connecting Prescriptive Analytics with Student Success: Evaluating Institutional Promise and

Alfred Essa
The Future of Postsecondary Education in the Age of AI

President Joe Biden honors fallen soldiers during Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery


Dear Commons Community,

President Joe Biden honored fallen soldiers during the 156th observance of Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery outside the nation’s capital yesterday.

Biden placed a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a solemn ceremony, where he was accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.  As reported by Reuters.

“We gather at this sacred place, at this solemn moment, to remember, to honor the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of women and men who have given their lives for this nation,” Biden said afterward at the cemetery’s amphitheater.

Earlier in the day, Biden hosted a White House breakfast in honor of Memorial Day that included administration officials, military leadership, veterans and so-called Gold Star family members, referring to those who have lost an immediate relative in military action.

The Memorial Day ceremony is the latest in a string of events where Biden has focused on active and retired military personnel, including delivering the commencement speech on Saturday at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.

Next week, the president will travel to Normandy, France, to participate in ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. He is expected to give a major speech about the heroism of Allied forces in World War Two and the continuing threats to democracy today.

Thursday will mark the ninth anniversary of the death of Biden’s son Beau, who served in Iraq as part of Delaware’s National Guard. Beau died from glioblastoma, a highly aggressive form of brain cancer that his father believes was possibly a consequence of exposure to military burn pits in Iraq.

“This week marks nine years since I lost my son, Beau,” Biden said. “Our losses are not the same. He didn’t perish on the battlefield. He was a cancer victim.

“The pain of his loss is with me every day … so is the pride in his service,” the president said.

On Memorial Day, each grave site at Arlington will have a small American flag carefully positioned exactly one boot’s length away from the headstone. The flags were placed by 1,500 soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, better known as The Old Guard. The regiment has carried out the tradition, known as “Flags In,” just before Memorial Day every year since 1948, when it was designated as the Army’s official ceremonial unit.

A class act!


New Book: “The Anxious Generation” by Jonathon Haidt

Dear Commons Community,

I have just finished reading The Anxious Generation:  How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness, by social psychologist, Jonathon Haidt.  His earlier book, The Coddling of the American Mind, was a best-seller as is this current volume (Number 2 on the May 26, 2024 New York Times Bestsellers List).  His essential theme is that mental illness among our nation’s youth has skyrocketed thanks to their obsession with smart phones and social media.  He provides a good deal of data as well as citing major researchers such Jean Twenge to build the foundation for his thesis.  His details on the effects of smart phone use are clearly presented and distinguishes their use between girls and boys.  He also provides recommendations for weaning young people away from their phones including more active unsupervised play which he sees as paramount in learning to build social relationships with others.

Excellent and important reading!

Below is a review that appeared in The New York Times.


The New York Times

THE ANXIOUS GENERATION: How the Great Rewiring of Childhood Is Causing an Epidemic of Mental Illness

by Jonathan Haidt

Review by

Imagine that your 10-year-old daughter gets chosen to join the first human settlement on Mars. She’s ready to blast off but needs your permission.

You learn that the billionaire architect of the mission hasn’t considered the risks posed by the red planet’s toxic environment, including kids developing “deformities in their skeletons, hearts, eyes and brains.”

Would you let her go?

It’s with this “Black Mirror”-esque morality play that Jonathan Haidt sets the tone for everything that follows in his erudite, engaging, combative, crusading new book, “The Anxious Generation.” Mars is a stand-in for the noxious world of social media. If we’d say no to that perilous planet, we should of course say no to this other alien universe.

Instead, we hem and haw about the risks, failing to keep our kids safely grounded in nondigital reality. The result can no longer be ignored: deformities of the brain and heart — anxiety, depression, suicidality — plaguing our youth.

Haidt, a social psychologist, is a man on a mission to correct this collective failure. His first step is to convince us that youth are experiencing a “tidal wave” of suffering. In a single chapter and with a dozen carefully curated graphs, he depicts increases in mental illness and distress beginning around 2012. Young adolescent girls are hit hardest, but boys are in pain, too, as are older teens.

The timing of this is key because it coincides with the rise of what he terms phone-based childhood. From the late 2000s to the early 2010s, smartphones, bristling with social media apps and fueled by high-speed internet, became ubiquitous. Their siren call, addictive by design and perpetually distracting, quickly spirited kids to worlds beyond our control.

It wasn’t phones alone. A second phenomenon coincided with the rise of the machines: the decline of play-based childhood. This change started in the 1980s, with kidnapping fears and stranger danger driving parents toward fear-based overparenting. This decimated children’s unsupervised, self-directed playtime and restricted their freedom of movement.

With parents and children alike stuck in “Defend mode,” kids were in turn blocked from discovery mode, where they face challenges, take risks and explore — the building blocks of anti-fragility, or the ability to grow stronger through adversity. Compared to a generation ago, our children are spending more time on their phones and less on, well, sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. While fewer hospital visits and teen pregnancies are obvious wins, less risk-taking overall could stunt independence.

That’s why parents, he argues, should become more like gardeners (to use Alison Gopnik’s formulation) who cultivate conditions for children to independently grow and flourish, and less like carpenters, who work obsessively to control, design and shape their offspring. We’ve overprotected our kids in the real world while underprotecting them in the virtual one, leaving them too much to their own devices, literally and figuratively.

It’s this one-two punch of smartphones plus overprotective parenting, Haidt posits, that led to the great rewiring of childhood and the associated harms driving mental illness: social deprivation, sleep deprivation, attention fragmentation and addiction. He has a lot to say about each of these.

Here is where his ideas and interpretation of research become contentious. Few would disagree that unhealthy use of social media contributes to psychological problems, or that parenting plays a role. But mental illness is complex: a multidetermined synergy between risk and resilience. Clinical scientists don’t look for magic-bullet explanations. They seek to understand how, for whom and in what contexts psychological problems and resilience emerge.

Haidt does recognize that nuance complicates the issue. Online — but not in the book — he and colleagues report that adolescent girls from “wealthy, individualistic and secular nations” who are “less tightly bound into strong communities” are accounting for much of the crisis. So perhaps smartphones alone haven’t destroyed an entire generation. And maybe context matters. But this rarely comes through in the book.

The final sections offer advice for reducing harmful, predatory aspects of technology and helping parents, educators and communities become more gardener and less carpenter. Some tips will be familiar (ban phones from school; give kids more independence). Other advice might give readers pause (no smartphones before high school; no social media before 16). Yet, taken together, it’s a reasonable list.

Still, Haidt is a digital absolutist, skeptical that healthy relationships between youth and social media are possible. On this point, he even rebuffs the U.S. Surgeon General’s more measured position. We’re better off banning phones in schools altogether, he asserts. Because, as he quotes a middle school principal, schools without phone bans are like a “zombie apocalypse” with “all these kids in the hallways not talking to each other.”

Whether or not you agree with the zombie apocalypse diagnosis, it’s worth considering the failure of prior absolutist stances. Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No drug campaign? A public health case study in what not to do. During the AIDS crisis, fear mongering and abstinence demands didn’t prevent unsafe sex. Remember the pandemic? Telling Americans to wear masks at all times undermined public health officials’ ability to convince them to wear masks when it really mattered.

Digital absolutism also risks blinding us to other causes — and solutions. In 1960s Britain, annual suicide rates plummeted. Many believed the drop was due to improved antidepressant medications or life just getting better. They weren’t looking in the right place. The phaseout of coal-based gas for household stoves blocked the most common method of suicide: gas poisoning. Means restriction, because it gives the despairing one less opportunity for self-harm, has since become a key strategy for suicide prevention.

“I’ve been struggling to figure out,” Haidt writes, “what is happening to us? How is technology changing us?” His answer: “The phone-based life produces spiritual degradation, not just in adolescents, but in all of us.” In other words: Choose human purity and sanctity over the repugnant forces of technology. This dialectic is compelling, but the moral matrix of the problem — and the scientific foundations — are more complex.

Yes, digital absolutism might convince policymakers to change laws and increase regulation. It might be a wake-up call for some parents. But it also might backfire, plunging us into defense mode and blocking our path of discovery toward healthy and empowered digital citizenship.

Trump Booed and Heckled Last Night at Libertarian Convention!

Trump was booed mercilessly at the Libertarian Convention.  Photo courtesy of Reuters.

Dear Commons Community,

Presidential candidate Donald Trump was booed and heckled by many in a raucous audience at the Libertarian National Convention last night.  In a speech that began and ended with overwhelming boos, Donald Trump tried to court libertarian voters at their party’s national convention by telling them to support him or keep being losers.

Libertarians, who believe in limited government and individual freedom, blame Trump, a Republican, for rushing through the creation of a COVID-19 vaccine when he was president and for not doing more to stop public health restrictions on the unvaccinated during the pandemic.  As reported by Reuters and The Huffington Post.

The twice-impeached former president was jeered at almost every turn. At least one person was visibly dangling a rubber chicken with “Debate Bobby” on it, a message taunting Trump for ignoring a request earlier this month by independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to debate him at the libertarian gathering. 

There were pockets of Trump supporters at the event, and they tried to drown out all the boos but they were outnumbered. And there was already drama brewing between them and libertarians before Trump’s event began. Organizers asked Trump’s supporters to clear the front rows for libertarian delegates, who will decide Sunday which candidate to endorse. This reshuffling infuriated Trump loyalists.

It was never a great idea for Trump to speak at this event. Libertarians have been skeptical of him, if not outright hostile toward him, and those tensions were on full display in Saturday’s speech.

The reason he spoke at this event at all is because the election is shaping up to be tight, and he, like President Joe Biden, wants to woo voters who may otherwise be considering supporting Kennedy. Even if Kennedy were to get just a couple of percentage points, it could potentially decide whether Biden or Trump gets a second term in the White House.

Amid the drama, Trump plowed ahead with his remarks, with promises of rewards for libertarians who help him get elected. He vowed to put libertarians in his cabinet and in top White House posts. He threw out policy ideas he figured would appeal to libertarians, like denying federal money to schools with mask mandates and barring the creation of a central bank digital currency.

He even quoted Patrick Henry, because why not: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

But the Republican presidential hopeful kept drifting back to insulting the group of people he was supposedly trying to win over.

“I’m asking for the Libertarian Party’s endorsement, or at least for your votes,” Trump said later to loud boos. “Lots and lots of libertarian votes.”

“Or you can keep going the way you have for the last long decades and get your three percent, and then meet again, get another three percent,” he continued. “It’s time to be winners.”

After Trump’s speech, William Redpath, a former chair and three-time treasurer of the Libertarian Party, wondered why Trump spoke to the group at all.

“When I heard on May 1 that Donald Trump was actually going to speak at the Libertarian Party convention, it hit me like a ton of bricks,” he said in a statement.

“It’s bad enough for a [Libertarian Party] national convention to allow a rival presidential candidate to promote his candidacy,” Redpath said. “But, to invite Donald Trump to speak is beyond the pale. This is where the ‘any publicity is good publicity’ philosophy takes you.”

The Libertarians, unlike many Republicans, are truer to their principles.