Friendships and Trump Fealty


Florida’s “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” survey on how university students’ political views affect relationships on campus is yet another reminder of the new normal we’re now mired in. It’s a microcosm of our fraught societal landscape. How do we get along with those who have slaked their political thirst with the vile and venomous Kool Aid provided by the Irreverent Donald Trump? Especially when they are family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

This isn’t about old-school ideological differences between the business and the middle class. This isn’t the era of Jacob Javits and Margaret Chase Smith. This is about threats to democracy, core values and those too easily duped by the racist ethno-nationalism of a malevolent cult leader.

We’ve all had the encounters. Just don’t double down and make it worse by getting into an ideological fistfight. Simply withdraw respect, move on to other topics or other people and alter the definition of “friendship.”


Columbine Continued

It’s been 25 years since Columbine—and its 13 murdered victims. What have we learned? Alas, that we haven’t learned much.

Guns remain deeply embedded in our culture and self-serving, disingenuous, counter-productive interpretations of the Second Amendment, including assault weapons in non-military or non-police hands, are a rite of passage for too many NRA-venerating GOPsters. The assault on common sense and the tragic Columbine legacy live, so to speak, on. And it hardly helps that Florida AG Ashley Moody has sued the Biden Administration over a federal rule to close a gun-dealer loop hole.

Protest Context


Pro-Palestinian protests and sit-ins about Israeli overkill would be more credible had they been preceded by public signs of outrage and protest in October when Hamas invaded Israel and murdered babies and horrifically raped and beheaded–and even videotaped–Israelis before retreating with hostages to use Palestinian civilians as de facto shields.

Dem Notes

* The Biden campaign is opening its first Florida field office—in Tampa. The Sunshine State isn’t the swing state it used to be—but, with November ballot initiatives in play, it’s looking less red than 2020, when Biden lost Florida by 3%.

* Country over family: “We denounce (RFK Jr.’s) candidacy and believe it to be perilous for our country.”–That was Kerry Kennedy and three other offspring of Robert F. Kennedy in a statement on their brother running for president. “Bobby might share the same name as our father, but he does not share the same values, vision or judgment.” Ouch.

* The Lincoln Project has targeted Arizona and Wisconsin–”Ground Zero for democracy this year” with the launch of the 3-ad Operation RedZone.

* “Let’s call Trump’s words and actions what they are: anti-Latino, anti-immigrant, and anti-American.”–Biden-Harris 2024 Hispanic Media Director Maca Casado.

* Impeachment should never be used to settle a policy disagreement.”–Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on the conviction-less impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

* Stereotypes are inherently flawed, but it’s better to be demonized as “woke” or naively idealistic than hateful and self-serving.


* Reunion karma: Anyone who has been to a class reunion—many decades in the making, unmaking and remaking—will get it. Not everyone who used to be cool still has that look—from cute to athletic. And a lot of the geeks and nerds no longer look the part. What goes around…

* Techie pick-up line: “Are you Siri? Because you autocomplete me.”

* A fully-loaded, 80,000-pound driverless truck weaving around cars on a highway at 65 mph or more. What could go wrong?

* Whatever happened to the subjunctive mood? At least it hasn’t impacted “Fiddler on the Roof.” It’s not: “If I was a rich man. …”

* The older you get, the more hearing becomes problematic. But no problem hearing weedwackers, motorcycles and Trumpsters. Not fair.

* “Doody Calls.” A port-o-let reminder or a patriotic Trump-rally line?

Tampa Bay


* Looks like the high-speed rail connection between Orlando and Tampa could finally happen. The $25-million Brightline project is estimated to take three years. But perspective matters. This should have happened more than a decade ago when Gov. Rick Scott, R-HCA, turned down more than $2 billion in federal (Obama) money to connect Orlando and Tampa—and ultimately Atlanta. He never even permitted bids—that could have reconciled doubts about “being on the hook.”

* “In America, today, 2024, women have fewer rights than their mothers or their grandmothers had, because of Donald Trump.”–President Joe Biden in his Tampa visit.

* “I’m running for election as state attorney to serve the people—all the people—of Hillsborough County.”–That was twice-elected but gubernatorially-ousted Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren.

* USF reached a record $692 million in research funding last year.

* The Democrats still have about 9,000 more active registered voters than Republicans in Hillsborough County. But the trend is concerning: The Democratic voter registration advantage was about 74,000 in 2020. In Pinellas County, the GOP now has an advantage of more than 32,000 active registered voters.

* USF will be offering an upper-level literature course on Swift: Taylor—not Jonathan.

* Macy Mall: WestShore Plaza will be demolished—except for Macy’s. A mixed-use development will span the 52 acres. There’s no definitive time line yet.

* Forbes’ ranking of the top 25 worst cities to drive in includes three from Florida. Miami: 2nd; Jacksonville, 16th; and Tampa: 24th. The rankings covered four categories: safety, cost of car ownership, access to car maintenance and driving experience.

* The late Senator (and Governor) Bob Graham was known for his “work days.” They included teaching classes at Plant High.



* This state has now gone from swing to red scare. But Scott, DeSantis, Gaetz, Trump etc., notwithstanding, legitimate hope will be on the ballot. But it will, of course, depend on turnout. And it greatly helps to have abortion, marijuana–and even Andrew Warren–on that ballot.

* “This is wrong—what’s happening to this guy.” That was Rick Scott, who attended the Trump trial. No, he wasn’t a surrogate for missing-in-action family members but an agenda-driven Trump defender and fellow fraudster.

* Wild card: No-party voters make up more than 25% of the state’s active registered voters.

* The DNC has launched a bilingual billboard campaign in Florida on abortion bans. They’re located at high-traffic sites in Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Gainesville.

* State public schools should be teaching the evils of authoritarianism, not communism. This isn’t the Cold War; it’s gubernatorial autocracy.

* According to Leapfrog Hospital Safety Guide, Florida hospitals ranked 13th in the nation for patient safety.

Media Matters

* Amid the political jokes at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner was the brutal acknowledgment by Kelly O’Donnell, president of the association, that some 100 journalists have been killed so far in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

* “Nixon might have survived if there’d been a Fox News.”–John Dean.

* A recent alliterative Politico headline: “A Porn Star, a President and a Publisher Named Pecker.”

* Eight newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, the Denver Post and the New York Daily News, are suing OpenAI and Microsoft over allegations that the tech companies have been “purloining millions” of copyrighted news articles without permission or payment.