Cognition Nation


Much has been made, and continues to be made, about 81-year-old President Joe Biden’s advanced age and related optics: awkward miscues and slower walking. The occasional stutter has been with him since childhood. Some, of course, would call it an inevitable trade-off for a half century of public service, life experience and accumulated wisdom. Others, of course, would say, typically in partisan taunts, that the U.S. just can’t afford an octogenarian president.

Many who say that, however, would, ironically and unconscionably, prefer a candidate who would be only three years younger come November, as well as manifestly unhinged, unethical and criminally indicted.

Biden still checks important boxes, even if he isn’t a charismatic, next-gen progressive. He actually reads and understands his briefings; has relevant knowledge of actual facts, from the constitutional to the geopolitical; maintains emotional regulation; and surrounds himself with experienced, non-democracy-threatening, Administration appointees—not mere minions. To Biden, “America First” means American democracy as a foremost priority–not a nativist ploy to a voter base.

But as Republicans continue to rally ‘round GaffeGate, “Sleepy Joe” slurs and Trump rants at his Mussolini rallies, their selective lens obviously isn’t fazed by Trump’s dual decline, both mental and moral. For his cult followers, being an outlandish, often incoherent, pathological personality is not perceived as weakness, but as celebrity charisma. And since nobody is objective about their cult leader, Trump confusing Joe Biden and Barack Obama, Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush and Jeb Bush, World War II and World War III, Sioux City, IA. and Sioux Falls, S.D. is not some cognitive concern for hardcore Trumpsters.

His moral and ethical failings have been obvious for as long as Trump has been in the public eye—from fraudster to sex offender to birtherism founder to insurrection lodestar and leader. Now add intimations of mental decline. America deserves better than an existentially threatening, 90-felony-indictment presidential candidate—even if the Trump base doesn’t.

That Haley Comet

Here’s the pragmatic Nikki Haley strategy as she might candidly phrase it. “Yes, Super Tuesday was not encouraging. I’ve ‘suspended’ my campaign. But I’m still here. I haven’t been indicted for anything. I’m still Plan B—in case the GOP has a last-minute, common sense, country first, constitutional epiphany or Trump self-destructs and winds up in the slammer. I’m only 52; and, no, I haven’t forgotten about 2028.”

Dem Notes

* Fate of the Union speech: Biden gave a good, feisty “Irish fire” address. But once again, while the president focused on his agenda talking points, the focus for the national audience was literally divided by the divisive optics. That’s because of the tight-frame shot of the president that necessarily includes those directly behind him, the vice president and the speaker of the House.

It’s been that way forever, and it’s beyond time to do something about the awkward, partisan-enabling optics that highlight a democracy in crisis.

Just re-arrange the furniture, so the ultimate union message is ‘bye, partisanship. Only the president should be in the frame, not the smiling, pop-up applauding and the seated frowning by VP Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson, respectively. Whoever the president is, including a certain predecessor, that person deserves the country’s undivided attention, not a distracting, political-performance backdrop. It’s inappropriate to the occasion unless the SOTU goal is to underscore that the state of the union has never been more fractured and fraught.

* Abortion, as we well know, is on the ballot. It tops VP Kamala Harris’ agenda and is complemented by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s multi-state ad campaign to combat anti-abortion proposals in several red states that include a ban on out-of-state travel for abortions and related medications.

* “Democrats hold vast fundraising advantage as Republicans face cash problems, disarray in crucial swing states.”–No surprise—except that’s Fox News being quoted.

* The DNC is launching a bilingual billboard campaign in battleground states—including Florida—holding Trump accountable for the devastating attacks on reproductive freedoms—from abortion to IVF.

* “Women put Joe in the White House four years ago, and women will do it again.”–First Lady Jill Biden, who recently launched a “Women for Biden-Harris” program to mobilize women voters in battleground states.

* “I want to be clear: There is a place for (Nikki Haley supporters) in my campaign.”–VP Kamala Harris.

* It’s also clear that the Dems hope that Liz Cheney, the prominent face of the anti-Trump movement, and her “The New Task” PAC can help by endorsing Biden.

* “Israel cannot survive if it becomes a pariah.” That cautionary reality was underscored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Benjamin Netanyahu critic and, most notably, the highest-ranking Jewish official in the U.S.

* 71% choose funding Social Security, Medicare over budget cuts.”–A FOX News Poll.

* California Rep. Adam Schiff is running for the Senate seat of Diane Feinstein. His opponent: Steve Garvey, the former Los Angeles Dodger—and alumnus of Tampa’s Chamberlain High.

* The Dems see third party candidates as an arm of the Trump campaign. Jill Stein (2016) and Ralph Nader (2000) remain reminders. Current Exhibit A: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. RFK Jr. had been considering–seriously–Aaron Rodgers and Jesse Ventura as possible running mates.

* On the other hand:

^ “If Mr. Biden steps aside, sacrificing all vanity and need, he is a hero to his party forever. If he stays and loses, he’s Ruth Bader Biden.”–Peggy Noonan, WSJ.


* The older you get, the more you forget. But you never forget that there’s stuff you can’t remember. Not fair.

* There was a time when “You’re looking good” didn’t mean “for your age.”

* Joe Biden: “We shall overcome.” Donald Trump: “We shall overcomb.

* Weird how a person who says “I could care less” means the same thing as someone who says “I couldn’t care less.”

* Word Nerds: Acronyms are now a routine and fundamental part of our written and spoken communication—from NATO and NAFTA to SCOTUS and POTUS. Then there’s WOKE, the one that, for a certain some, stands for “Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.” Do administrations and political campaigns have designated acronym specialists? Is it the Acronym Specialist Syndrome?

* Trump University. Trump Steaks. Trump Sneakers. What’s next? Trump IndictMINTS?

Tampa Bay

* Starting July 1, Aeromexico will begin offering flights between TIA and Mexico City. The new route is expected to generate some $70 million in economic impact annually for the Tampa Bay region.

* Tampa Union Station is the second-busiest AMTRAK station in Florida.

* The Central development in St. Petersburg will include a hotel that is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection—and will be the first 4-star hotel downtown since The Vinoy.


* VP speculation for Trump includes Florida GOP Congressman Byron Donalds, 45, an African-American Brooklyn native now based in Naples. He describes himself as a “Trump supporting, gun-owning, liberty-loving, pro-life, politically incorrect black man.” He’s also a Tea Partier who claims that Biden is not the legitimate president of the U.S. He checks a lot of suck-up boxes.

* Speaking of veep speculation, that also includes Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has formally endorsed Trump for president.

* Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner candidly framed the bottom-line on Spring Break crowd violence. “They’re not staying in hotels; they’re not visiting our businesses.”

* Florida is among the dozen states that have reported measles cases this year. But it’s the only one with a problematic surgeon general who doesn’t agree with the CDC on the appropriate response. SG Joseph LaDOPEo has notified parents that they’ve been granted permission to send unvaccinated children to school amid the outbreak.

* Dire Education: The American Association of University Professors voted to sanction New College of Florida for its imposition of “an aggressively ideological agenda.” Only one other Florida school has ever made the AAUP’s sanction list—Miami Dade College in 2000.

* The age-appropriate teaching of Communism in our schools should mean: its history, its ideals and its fascist realities. Groucho and Karl are not related. It’s not the same as “woke” socialism. Ask Swedes.

Sports Shorts


* Overall, it was an historically successful season for the USF men’s basketball team, now in its 53rd season. First national ranking. First regular-season conference championship. A 15-game winning streak. Next hurdle: an NCAA Tournament invite. Last one was in 2012. Go, Bulls.

* Back in the day, legitimate “student-athletes” found free tuition and room and board, pride of university representation and networking benefits sufficient. That was then; this is NIL (name, image, likeness compensation) and transfer-portal roulette.

*The Rays averaged 17,781 fans per game last season. The MBL average: 29,295.

* The Rays are one of four teams to make the playoffs the last five seasons.

* Countries, in order, that produce the most MLB players: USA, Dominican Republic.

Trumpster Diving


* At Trump’s Super Tuesday watch party at Mar-a-Lago, Melania was a no-show. So was Stormy.

* Ingratiating himself religiously at a Christian media convention, Trump wondered “How any Christian can vote for a Democrat … how you can vote for a Democrat is crazy.” Obviously, hypocrisy, stupidity and sycophancy are not sins.

* “If I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath.”–More, uh, “hyperbole,” from Trump.

* Trump: “When I did the mug shot in Atlanta … You know who embraced it more than anyone else? The black population.” Who else could insult while campaign pandering?

* The potential danger posed by AI was obvious with a Trump ad artificially showing him surrounded by fake images of smiling black voters. This made as much sense as a Trump ad showing him surrounded by such smiling, fawning supporters such as: Jack Smith, Fani Willis and E. Jean Carroll.

* “When the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”–A Trump duplicitous predecessor, Richard Nixon.

* “The broad mass of a nation … will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”–Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf. Still applies.

* Alabama: Embryos are people—and future Republicans: GOPryos.

* Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, chairman of the National Governors Association, leads an initiative called Disagree Better that aims to reduce political divisiveness. He recently met with President Biden. No, it’s not Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan sharing beers, but anything helps an effort to lessen zero-sum political pandering and brawling.

* A big candidate quest: Getting those GOP-leaning moderates disenchanted with Trump. Begged question: Why would a “moderate,” by any definition, have ever been enchanted with Trump in the first place?

* Timing matters: Because of delays, the president-elect—if its Trump—could theoretically be tried and convicted of the most serious felony charges after being elected—but before taking office in January. So, yes, this could get even more chaotic.

* Potential precedent? In 1920, Eugene Debs, Socialist Party candidate, got a million votes while in prison.


* “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”–Booker T. Washington.

* “Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.”–Franklin D. Roosevelt.

* “Our NATO alliance is now stronger, larger than it’s ever been.”–Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on Sweden becoming NATO’s 32nd member.

* “It is obvious that the use or threat of force cannot be an instrument of foreign policy.”–Mikhail Gorbachev, the world’s most-missed super power leader.

* “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”–Eleanor Roosevelt.

* “The celebrity is a person who is known for his well-knownness.”–Daniel J. Boorstin, former librarian of Congress.

* “Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated.”–Will Rogers.

* “Democrats and Republicans in our community know the obvious: We need more transit and transportation investments. We need them now, and we are willing to pay for them.”–Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera, who chairs the county’s transportation agency.

* “I have got to start building our bench. There is no other way around it. I have teachers who are leaving.”–Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Van Ayres, in making the case for a special property tax.