Hillary Clinton Skewers Donald Trump During Wellesley College Commencement Address!

 

Dear Commons Community,

Hillary Clinton returned to her alma mater, Wellesley College, to give a commencement address to this year’s graduates and their families.  She wasted no time criticizing Donald Trump comparing him to Richard Nixon.  Here are some  highlights from her address.

“By the way, we were furious about the past presidential election, of a man whose presidency would eventually end in disgrace with his impeachment for his obstruction of justice,” Clinton said, referring to her graduating class of 1969. (The House Judiciary Committee had approved articles of impeachment against Nixon, but he actually resigned before the full House could vote on them.)

“We got through that tumultuous time,” Clinton said. “We turned back a tide of intolerance and embraced inclusion. … The ‘we’ who did those things were more than those in power who wanted to change course, it was millions of ordinary citizens, especially young people, who voted, marched and organized.”

Clinton also decried the Trump administration’s budget proposal, calling it “an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us.”

When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society.

She also denounced the administration for its aggressive stance toward the media and willingness to embrace conspiracy theories.

“You are graduating at a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason,” Clinton said. “Just log on to social media for 10 seconds, it will hit you right in the face.”

“Some are even denying things we see with our own eyes ― like the size of crowds,” she added, taking a jab at Trump’s obsession with his inauguration attendance. “And then defending themselves by talking about ‘alternative facts.’”

“When people in power invent their own facts and attack those who question them, it can mark the beginning of the end of a free society,” she said. “That is not hyperbole. It is what authoritarian regimes throughout history have done. They attempt to control reality.”

Clinton ended her address by imploring the audience to stand up for free speech and human rights by registering to vote, marching in protests, running for office and promoting plurality.”

Hillary could have used more of this type of passion during her unsuccessful campaign last year.

Tony

Interview with Outgoing SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher!

Dear Commons Community,

Reporters from The Chronicle of Higher Education conducted an interview with outgoing SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. In it, she provides excellent insights into issues important to all public higher education including funding, K-12 collaboration, New York State’s Excelsior Scholarship program, and women in leadership positions.  Below is the entire interview.

Tony

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In 2009 Nancy L. Zimpher took one of the toughest jobs in higher education. As the 12th chancellor of the State University of New York, she would run one of the largest public-university systems in the country, one with a history of drama and leadership instability. The system faced steep cuts in state support because of the recession, and higher-education everywhere was entering a period of disruption: deliberate and otherwise.

Ms. Zimpher will step down at the end of June, and will leave SUNY in a better place. Her eight-year tenure is the longest of any SUNY chancellor since the 1980s. Money is still tight, and the 64-campus system is still unwieldy, but her administration has brought more cohesion and calm.

She has taken steps to make the system more effective and efficient, despite a failed attempt in 2011 to make some institutions share presidents. She has worked to improve teacher education, improve graduation rates, and to raise the profile of SUNY within the state.

As she departs, the system is gearing up for the start of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Excelsior Scholarship program, which will offer free public-college tuition to many state residents, and for the arrival of Kristina M. Johnson, the system’s 13th chancellor.

Ms. Zimpher spoke with The Chronicle about higher education’s need to improve, what it can learn from health care, and what she would have done differently.

What didn’t you get to fix that you wish you had?

We’ve progressed to a point where we know what needs to get done, but we don’t know as much about how to get it done as we ought to. We, as a country, have not moved the completion agenda. The Lumina report, “A Stronger Nation” — 7-percent growth in postsecondary credentials in six years. We’re stuck.

So if I could do one thing walking out the door, it would be to create a pathway to teach ourselves what is the real methodology for improving the outcomes that we are charged to move. It ought to be about everyone who comes to our door exiting with a degree. We just can’t move our economy, we can’t move our quality of life, without it. So it’s not something I “didn’t get done.” But it’s something we should be doing.

I have said to Kristina Johnson, what a great time to assume the chancellorship. If I had it to do over, I’d start now, not eight years ago, because now we have so much more understanding of how we can work effectively together.

It sounds like there might be a role for foundations or other outside players.

There are two sources that have enhanced my own understanding. The first is that I have worked for a decade to try to improve outcomes for children and youth. Particularly in my work in this thing called StriveTogether, this network of local communities across the country that have bought in to owning the low-education-outcomes problem, I have seen that the methodology of continuous improvement really moves communities to report improvements in everything from preschool to college completion. And it’s because they’ve adopted a methodology of breaking down challenges. When you set a new policy or a best practice, you don’t put it on a shelf and call it a day. You keep going back to it, keep working at it, keep making it better. Instead of staring at the big, awful low completion rate, they’re looking at, well, how does this move along?

The second discovery is what’s happening in health care. New York is one of a very small number of states participating in the federal Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program, which provides a methodology to improve population health. Essentially it’s a different way of investing in Medicaid that incentivizes prevention measures. So in New York, physicians are getting rewarded for healthy populations instead of hospitals being rewarded for filling beds.

What should be driving us is a better- educated population, and we should be rewarded for that. There’s an immense opportunity for states to get more engaged in measuring what matters most and rewarding it. We do have a performance-funding system at SUNY, and I’m proud of that, but we’ve got to use that system to be that incentive for trying to do better.

You’ve done a lot during your tenure to change perceptions of SUNY. What can be done to improve public perceptions of higher education generally?

I don’t think we’ve done ourselves any favors in focusing so much on the lack of state funding. Every state is restricted in its ability to meet all the financial needs and demands that exist. And in New York, and most other states, the competitors, so to speak, are K-12 and health care. These are two things that ought to matter to us.

At the cutting edge of state allocation is a thing called fused funding, or hybrid funding. People say our funding model is broken because we’re not getting enough money in higher ed. But what if the funding were for the overall education pipeline, and we didn’t see our work as that primary and secondary education do up to grade 12, and then we start at 13? Our work cannot begin at 13. Our work ought to begin where the work begins, which is in early childhood.

When we funded No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, the federal government gave the money to the states, and the states gave it to the state education agencies. If you want 15 stakeholders to come to the table but only one of the stakeholders allocates the revenue for reform, you’re going to get what we’ve gotten, which is a divided, siloed effort to improve education in this country. My remedy for that is, next time we get the chance, the governor keeps the money and convenes the stakeholders, and we form an integrated effort to improve learning outcomes. That’s where fused funding could get its start — we’re funded to work effectively together to get the outcome everybody wants.

Most leaders in public higher education believe the level of funding that colleges got 10 years ago is gone forever.

It’s not coming back. So the exhortation to the state to give us more, in the same old way, is really not going to help things.

There have been a couple of responses that we’ve implemented in New York that I think are worthy. I do think our predictable tuition was a good thing. The downside is we can’t keep putting the burden on the students. But what was good about it is, first, it held tuition to a pretty reasonable level. Second, it was predictable. Third, it settled down the discourse for five years. We did not debate every year what’s going to happen to higher ed.

The second thing that New York did is this notion of helping us create an investment fund. Three years ago, we asked for $50 million, unrestricted, from all the nits and nats that the legislative process can bring to the table. And we got $18 million. But we were able to use that to coalesce other funds to create an investment fund of $100 million that we asked our campuses to apply for. And as a result we got $400 million worth of ideas from themes around completion and inquiry and engagement, which was our game plan.

Of course, the state should expect us to show that we are moving the dial, which I think we can do, because every one of these allocations is tethered to our performance funding. It wasn’t a ton of money, but it was undedicated, and it gave us the flexibility to incentivize changes in behavior. What industry doesn’t live with that kind of discretion?

Has the landscape for women as leaders in higher education changed during your time in this job?

I was a first dean and first executive dean at Ohio State, the first chancellor at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the first president at the University of Cincinnati, the first female chancellor of SUNY. A student who was shadowing me one day heard me introduced at a Rotary — first, first, first. And he said, don’t you get tired of being introduced as the first whatever? And I heard myself say, “When it doesn’t need to be said anymore, it won’t be.”

Improvement is very slow. It’s very slow in the C-suite. It’s very slow in corporate boards. It’s very slow in women running for elected office. And we do have a model in Europe that does set a quota for women on corporate boards to be 30 percent. And they meet it. Typically, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that. But the dial is moving so slowly that something has to give. And it isn’t just gender, of course, but within gender it’s moving even more slowly for women of color than it is for white women. And that’s not just true in presidencies and chancellorhoods. So what would be the jarring effect that would have to occur?

“Slowly” would have been the one-word answer.

Excelsior, the program designed to offer free college in New York, has been the topic of much debate. Is it going to do what people are hoping?

The criticisms of the framework for Excelsior need to be contradicted. The first criticism is that this is too tilted toward the middle class. What about the students with family incomes under $75,000? Well, we’ve been there. New York is one of the most generous states with regard to tuition support. A huge number of our students avail themselves of this opportunity.

The second thing is we should not expect that just because you received this generous tuition support, you owe it back to the state. But I don’t see anything wrong, really, with a return on our investment. Eighty-five percent of our students already stay in the state.

And the third criticism is this notion that we were mandating full-time enrollment. Well, the data clearly reflect more success when you are full-time enrolled. The policy has a flexibility quotient in it that gives you a year to be full-time.

So I think we can move the dial. That makes this the most innovative tuition proposal that’s been put on the table yet.

Can you share any further details of what you’re up to next, or is that t.b.a.?

It’s t.b.a., but I suspect the die is cast. I have been a champion for public education and for the integration of the education system. I don’t really think we have a system of public education in this country. I think we need one. And so my advocacy around the connectivity of higher ed to K-12, the thread that good teaching provides, that’s not likely to change.

Are you looking forward to a period in your life where everything you do or say isn’t questioned publicly?

I am so attuned to the fishbowl that I will probably miss it. But here’s why: I do think personal persuasion, advocacy, getting out in front of the issues is the best part of my job. And you have to take the bitter and the sweet. When you’re speaking to a room full of people who are recording every word, you’re very careful. You get smarter about it. You get better at it. Because the real point is to say something that matters. Say something that’s going to make a difference.

And be self-critical. That is one problem with my sector. We’re so good, and we like to talk about how good we are. What we really need to talk about is how we can get better.

 

 

Trump Administration Considering Moving Federal Student Loans from the Education Department to the Treasury!

Dear Commons Community,

In an effort to reduce costs and to manage better the federal student loan programs, President Trump is considering moving the entire student loan operation out of the Education Department to the Treasury Department.  As reported by the New York Times;

“The Trump administration is considering moving responsibility for overseeing more than $1 trillion in student debt from the Education Department to the Treasury Department, a switch that would radically change the system that helps 43 million students finance higher education.

The potential change surfaced in a scathing resignation memo sent late Tuesday night by James Runcie, the head of the Education Department’s federal student aid program. Mr. Runcie, an Obama-era holdover, was appointed in 2011 and reappointed in 2015. He cut short his term, which was slated to run until 2020, after clashing with the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, over this proposal and other issues.

Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, declined to comment on his departure or on talks with Treasury.

“The secretary is looking forward to identifying a qualified candidate to lead and restore trust in F.S.A.,” Ms. Hill said, referring to federal student aid.

A shift in handling federal student aid is being weighed as the Trump administration and Ms. DeVos consider overhauling the Department of Education. Mr. Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 slashes funding for the department by nearly 50 percent.

Moving one of its core functions to Treasury would significantly diminish the agency’s power. It could also alter the mission of the student loan program.

“The reason the federal student aid programs live within the Education Department is because that’s the agency that has as its goal increasing educational opportunities within the United States,” said David Bergeron, who left the Education Department in 2013 after 35 years. “That is not the Treasury Department’s goal. Its job is to pay for the business of the government.”

Scrapping or shrinking the Education Department has long been a popular Republican goal, dating from the Reagan administration. President Trump embraced the idea, saying in his book “Crippled America” that the department should either be eliminated or have “its power and reach” cut. In February, a House Republican introduced a bill to terminate the agency.

In his resignation memo, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Runcie said that senior members of his department had met that day with Treasury officials and discussed “holding numerous meetings and retreats” to outline a process for “transferring all or a portion” of the student aid office’s functions to the Treasury Department.

“This is just another example of a project that may provide some value but will certainly divert critical resources and increase operational risk in an increasingly challenging environment,” Mr. Runcie wrote.

Moving the federal student aid unit probably would require congressional action. But even in a fractured Congress, it could win bipartisan support.”

If this transfer of responsibilities is made, there is a real potential to severely limit access to student loans.  Not good news!

Tony

In Bethesda Meeting with USDOE Institute of Education Sciences and ABT Associates to Develop a New Publication for the What Works Clearinghouse!

Dear Commons Community,

I spent the day yesterday in Bethesda, Maryland meeting with colleagues from the United States Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences and ABT Associates to kick-off a new addition to the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) series of publications.  Tentatively titled, Using Instructional Technology to Support Postsecondary Learning, this publication will present recommendations for educators to address challenges in using technology in their classrooms.  It will be based on reviews of research, the experiences of practitioners, and the opinions of recognized experts. The crux of the publication will be a set of recommendations that inform best practice in the use of instructional technology.  All recommendations will be supported by studies that have been reviewed against WWC evidence standards.

I look forward to working on this project that will last through late 2018.  

Tony

Google’s A.I. AlphaGo Beats Chinese Go Master!

Dear Commons Community,

For several decades,  the artificial intelligence (A.I.)  community here in the United States was obsessed with developing a computer program that could win at chess.  Google’s AlphaGo, a far more complex game, yesterday beat the Chinese Go master, marking another A.I. milestone. AlphaGo is a sophisticated A.I. software program that not only plays the game but learns from competition including competition with itself.  As reported by the New York Times:

“It isn’t looking good for humanity.

The world’s best player of what might be humankind’s most complicated board game was defeated on Tuesday by a Google computer program. Adding insult to potentially deep existential injury, he was defeated at Go — a game that claims centuries of play by humans — in China, where the game was invented.

The human contender, a 19-year-old Chinese national named Ke Jie, and the computer are only a third of the way through their three-game match this week. And the contest does little to prove that software can mollify an angry co-worker, write a decent poem, raise a well-adjusted child or perform any number of distinctly human tasks.

But the victory by software called AlphaGo showed yet another way that computers could be developed to perform better than humans in highly complex tasks, and it offered a glimpse of the promise of new technologies that mimic the way the brain functions. AlphaGo’s success comes at a time when researchers are exploring the potential of artificial intelligence to do everything from drive cars to draft legal documents — a trend that has some serious thinkers pondering what to do when computers routinely replace humans in the workplace.

Last year, it was still quite humanlike when it played,” Mr. Ke said after the game. “But this year, it became like a god of Go.”

Perhaps just as notably, the victory took place in China, a rising power in the field of artificial intelligence that is increasingly seen as a rival to the United States. Chinese officials perhaps unwittingly demonstrated their conflicted feelings at the victory by software backed by a company from the United States, as they cut off live streams of the contest within the mainland even as the official news media promoted the promise of artificial intelligence.

AlphaGo — which was developed by DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, Alphabet Incorporated — has already pushed assumptions about just how creative a computer program can be. Since last year, when it defeated a highly ranked South Korean player at Go, it changed the way the top masters played the game. Players have praised the technology’s ability to make unorthodox moves and challenge assumptions core to a game that draws on thousands of years of tradition.

In the first game, Mr. Ke made several moves that commentators said were reminiscent of AlphaGo’s own style. Wearing a blue tie and thick-framed black glasses, the boyish Mr. Ke kept things close in the early going. By AlphaGo’s own assessment, it did not have a big statistical advantage until after the 50th move, according to a DeepMind co-founder, Demis Hassabis.

Mr. Ke, who smiled and shook his head as AlphaGo finished out the game, said afterward that his was a “bitter smile.” After he finishes this week’s match, he said, he would focus more on playing against human opponents, noting that the gap between humans and computers was becoming too great. He would treat the software more as a teacher, he said, to get inspiration and new ideas about moves.

“AlphaGo is improving too fast,” he said in a news conference after the game. “AlphaGo is like a different player this year compared to last year.”

Go, in which two players vie for control of a board using black and white pieces called stones, is considered complex because of the sheer number of possible moves. Even supercomputers cannot simply calculate all possible moves, presenting a big challenge for AlphaGo’s creators.

AlphaGo instead relies on new techniques that help it learn from experience playing a large number of games. This time, Mr. Hassabis said, a new approach allowed AlphaGo to learn more by playing games against itself. In the future, computer scientists hope to use similar techniques to do many things, including improving fundamental scientific research and diagnosing illnesses.”

AlphaGo is a small inkling of what lies ahead. In the next couple of decades, “god of go” technology will astound humankind with many more sophisticated and people-critical endeavors in medicine, education, and commerce.

Tony

 

President Trump’s Proposed Budget!

Dear Commons Community,

President Donald Trump delivered his proposed budget to Congress yesterday and there are few surprises as to the cuts to domestic programs and the increases in defense, infrastructure, and veterans affairs.  The graphic above says it all but keep in mind that this is only the opening of the budget process.  The Congress even though controlled by Republicans will not support all of Trump’s proposals.

As far as education, the budget illustrates full support for school choice programs championed by Education Secretary Betsy Devos. It includes a $1.4 billion increase for public and private school choice programs while eliminating funding for before- and after-school and summer programs. Federal work-study would also be “significantly reduced” while the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is reserved for college students with the greatest need for financial aid, would also be eliminated. Funding to historically black colleges would remain the same.  Further information on this and other parts of the President’s proposals  are available here.

Tony

Monica Lewinsky and Her Roger Ailes “Nightmare”!

Dear Commons Community,

Last week, Roger Ailes, longtime head of Fox News, died.  There has been lots of commentary on his genius as a media mogul as well as the disgraceful way he treated the women who worked for him. In an op-ed in today’s New York Times, Monica Lewinsky, the center of the Bill Clinton impeachment hearings in the 1990s, gives her opinion of Ailes as “her nightmare.”

Lewinsky has maintained a relatively low public profile regarding her affair with Bill Clinton over the years so her public comments below are a rarity.

Tony

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Roger Ailes’s Dream Was My Nightmare

By Monica Lewinsky

MAY 22, 2017

This is not another obituary for Roger Ailes, who died last week 10 months after being ousted at Fox News. It is, I hope, instead an obituary for the culture he purveyed — a culture that affected me profoundly and personally.

Just two years after Rupert Murdoch appointed Mr. Ailes to head the new cable news network, my relationship with President Bill Clinton became public. Mr. Ailes, a former Republican political operative, took the story of the affair and the trial that followed and made certain his anchors hammered it ceaselessly, 24 hours a day.

It worked like magic: The story hooked viewers and made them Fox loyalists. For the past 15 years, Fox News has been the No. 1 news station; last year the network made about $2.3 billion.

Some experts have noted that viewers found Fox for the first time because of the crisis. John Moody, a Fox executive editor, reflected on that period: “The Lewinsky saga put us on the news map.” As he put it in another interview: “Monica was a news channel’s dream come true.”

Their dream was my nightmare. My character, my looks and my life were picked apart mercilessly. Truth and fiction mixed at random in the service of higher ratings. My family and I huddled at home, worried about my going to jail — I was the original target of Kenneth Starr’s investigation, threatened with 27 years for having been accused of signing a false affidavit and other alleged crimes — or worse, me taking my own life. Meantime, Mr. Ailes huddled with his employees at Fox News, dictating a lineup of talking heads

 

For myriad reasons — information gathering, boredom (I couldn’t leave my home without being trailed by paparazzi) and a touch of masochism — I watched the news around the clock. On Fox, it seemed, no rumor was too unsubstantiated, no innuendo too vile and no accusation too abhorrent.

Let’s not pretend that Fox News was the only network to cover this story in the gutter. Mr. Ailes’s station may have pioneered this new style of television reportage, but the other cable news channels didn’t hesitate to join the race to the bottom. In fact, in late 1998, when Keith Olbermann briefly left MSNBC, he expressed disgust with the frequent Lewinsky coverage.

Just as television news was devolving into a modern coliseum, the internet came along and compounded this culture of shame and vitriol. Remember: The story of my affair was not broken by The Washington Post, The New York Times or the networks, but online by the Drudge Report. The comments on television and online were excruciating. I ceased being a three-dimensional person. Instead I became a whore, a bimbo, a slut and worse. Just days after the story broke, Fox asked its viewers to vote on this pressing question: Is Monica Lewinsky an “average girl” or a “young tramp looking for thrills”?

Our world — of cyberbullying and chyrons, trolls and tweets — was forged in 1998. It is, as the historian Nicolaus Mills has put it, a “culture of humiliation,” in which those who prey on the vulnerable in the service of clicks and ratings are handsomely rewarded.

As the past year has revealed, thanks to brave women like Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly, it is clear that at Fox, this culture of exploitation wasn’t limited to the screen. The irony of Mr. Ailes’s career at Fox — that he harnessed a sex scandal to build a cable juggernaut and then was brought down by his own — was not lost on anyone who has been paying attention.

There are some positive signs that the younger generation at Fox — James and Lachlan Murdoch — seem to want to change the culture Mr. Ailes created. Last week Bob Beckel, a Fox pundit who made a racist remark to an African-American Fox employee, was dismissed. Would this have happened in the Ailes era?

Although I imagine the desire by the Murdoch brothers to present a clean record to the European Commission reviewing their proposed takeover of Sky News played a role in their thinking, the Murdochs deserve praise for their part in the decision to fire Bill O’Reilly, whose show brought in $100 million a year in ad revenue but who harassed and bullied women he worked with. I hope the Murdochs understand that Americans will no longer tolerate a corporate culture that views hate and harassment as part of running a successful news business.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t have a credible conservative point of view in our media — quite the opposite. If we’ve learned nothing else from the 2016 presidential election, it’s that we must find a way to foster robust and healthy discussion and debate. Our news channels should be just such places.

So, farewell to the age of Ailes. The late Fox chief pledged Americans fair and balanced news. Maybe now we’ll get it.

 

Notre Dame Students Walk Out of VP Mike Pence’s Commencement Address!

 

 

Dear Commons Community,

A group of about one hundred students walked out of the Notre Dame commencement ceremony yesterday in protest of the speaker, Vice President Mike Pence.   As reported by the New York Times:

“Vice President Pence praised Notre Dame, one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic universities, as “a vanguard of freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas.” Other schools do not measure up, he said.

“While this institution has maintained an atmosphere of civility and open debate, far too many campuses across America have become characterized by speech codes, safe zones, tone policing, administration-sanctioned political correctness — all of which amounts to nothing less than suppression of the freedom of speech,” he said. “These all-too-common practices are destructive of learning and the pursuit of knowledge, and they are wholly outside the America tradition.”

The protest began as Mr. Pence began his remarks at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., where degrees were conferred on 2,081 students. As the students left the stadium, the audience erupted into a mixture of boos and applause.”

Tony

Frank Bruni on Trump’s Visit to the Centers of Three Western Religions – “Clutch the Rosary Beads!”

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni comments on Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. Given the mess he is in, it is fitting that the President is turning to God.  Here is an excerpt:

He has fled the country — not a moment too soon! — for his first foreign excursion since taking office, and it’s less a conventional presidential trip than a roving seminar in world religions: Islam (Saudi Arabia is the first stop), Judaism (Israel is second) and Roman Catholicism (the Vatican is the capper).

I’m especially eager for his communion with Pope Francis, an entry in the annals of odd couples that ranks somewhere just above Oscar and Felix, and below Mork and Mindy.

One of them is splenetic. The other is ascetic. One sins. The other redeems. Cue the metaphors and clutch your rosary beads.

They’ve a history, these two, and it’s not pretty. During the campaign, Francis denounced the notion of a wall along the Mexican border, and Trump didn’t exactly turn the other cheek. “Disgraceful!” he shot back, confirming his willingness to make an adversary of anyone, no matter how tall the miter.

But they can skip over that and look to future matters like the reportedly imminent nomination of Callista Gingrich as America’s next ambassador to the Vatican. She’s Newt’s third wife, who was sleeping with him when he was still married to his second. Time and, it seems, annulments have washed the couple clean.

The president intended his pilgrimage as a statement that the diverse peoples of the world can and should get along — and that he, Trump, had the stature and sway to point them toward peace. This was to be a moment of bold leadership.

But on the heels of the worst two weeks of a ceaselessly beleaguered presidency, it looks more like a hasty retreat. Plus, there’s the continued wonder — the comedy, really — of watching a man so unabashedly profane pay such ostentatious heed to the sacred… 

…Facts are turning out to be as important as attitudes. Every hour brings some fresh mortification for his administration. A special counsel is commencing work. Words like “Watergate” and “obstruction of justice” whip through the air. If I were Trump, I’d probably get out of town, too.

And I’d definitely pray.”

Bruni has captured this presidential moment!

Tony

 

Notre Dame Students Plan Walkout over Commencement Speaker Mike Pence!

Dear Commons Community,

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to be the main speaker at Notre Dame University’s commencement exercises.  A Notre Dame student group is planning to walk out in protest.  As reported by MIC:

“Student activist group We Stand For is organizing a protest against Pence during Sunday’s commencement exercises, in which participants will walk out of the ceremony when Pence begins speaking to stand in solidarity with those affected by his damaging policies.

“For us, there’s nothing that could be more in the spirit of the university and the university mission than to stand up for human dignity and the most vulnerable among us,” We Stand For organizer Luis Miranda said in an interview.

In addition to students, a Facebook event for the protest encourages all attendees, including faculty and students’ families, to participate in the protest.

“During his time as governor of the state of Indiana and now as a vice president, Pence has targeted the civil rights protections of members of LBGT+ community, rejected the Syrian refugee resettlement program, supported an unconstitutional ban of religious minorities, and fought against sanctuary cities,” We Stand For said in a statement, as quoted by ThinkProgress. “All of these policies have marginalized our vulnerable sisters and brothers for their religion, skin color, or sexual orientation.”

As part of the commencement ceremony, Pence will also be conferred with an honorary degree, the Notre Dame website notes. He will be the first vice president to deliver the commencement address at the university, which is located in Pence’s home state of Indiana.”

This will create a quandary for the Notre Dame administration.

Tony