Dem Notes

* When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to a joint session of Congress to make the case for continued help against Russian invaders it didn’t include State of the Union optics. Standing applause (except for Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert) was not a partisan political optic. And the two figures framed behind Zelenskyy? Two women, VP Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, were making history while Zelenskyy was making his case.

* “There is such a wide range between your actual age and how you perform and function and show up in the world.”–That was U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, and, yes, the context was an octogenarian president.

* President Biden is a devoted viewer of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.”

* “Arizonans don’t like taxes, and we don’t really like government. We love our country. And we love our military. And that’s about where it ends.”–Former Democrat and now Independent Sen. Krysten Sinema of Arizona.

* While Dems continue to ponder their leadership bench, one Congressional name seems assured of continued attention and ascendance. New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is often referenced as the “Speaker-in-waiting.”

* Voting actually has a lot in common with driving. If you want to go backward, choose “R.” If you want to go forward, choose “D.”


* Christmas, family and politics. We know all too well that’s an awkward mix, especially during the uber divisive Trump era. Not a good sign if during Christmas-present unwrappings, it’s apparent someone has received a “Don’t Fauci My Florida” koozi.

* What do you call an obstinate kid who refuses to believe in Santa Claus? A rebel without a Claus.

* If you’re fat—but identify as skinny—are you trans-slender?

* Common sense is like deodorant. The people who need it most never use it.

* Being a parent doesn’t make one a de facto expert on anything including, ironically, child-raising and age-and-gender-appropriate books.

* Since when did “patriot” become a synonym for punk?

*Your chances of winning the Lottery are roughly the same whether you play or not.

Media Matters

* Fox was less sycophantic about Trump’s 2020 loss than Trump expected. Especially after he learned that the network was planning to air a documentary after Trump’s defeat—hosted by anchor Bret Baier, on how the incumbent had actually lost. So Trump began attacking Fox—and the network saw its audience numbers drop. Many of Trump’s fans flocked to the far-right channels Newsmax TV and One America News. By the spring, however, Fox was back in play as Trump’s media minion with torrents of anti-Biden programming.

* At least 67 journalists and media staff have been killed in 2022. “The surge in the killings of journalists and other media workers is a grave cause of concern and yet another wake-up call for governments.”–International Federation of Journalists General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.


* The Sunshine State’s population grew 1.9 percent over the last year. That led the country in growth rate. The actual numbers: from 21.8 million to 22.2 million.

* “It has been half a century since singer and pageant-winner Anita Bryant became the face of discrimination in Florida. Decades later, Bryant’s legacy is back on steroids in the Sunshine State.”–Scott Maxwell, Orlando Sentinel.

Trumpster Diving

* “MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT!” That’s how Trump teased his latest iteration of self-serving faux news. But, no, Kid Rock hasn’t agreed to run on his 2024 ticket. Trump was announcing $99 “limited edition (trading) cards featur(ing) amazing ART of my Life & Career.”

* “Truth Social” post: “A Massive Fraud” (‘stolen’ election) of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.” Yeah, just when you think you’d heard it all, Trump constitutionally doubled down.

* Upon reflection, that downward Trump Tower escalator ride of Donald and Melania Trump still looks like a metaphor for where America could still be headed.

* “He’s an authoritarian. I don’t believe the Republican Party believes in democracy.”–Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations.

* “The less you remember, the better.”–Legal advice given to former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson before her House Jan. 6 committee testimony.

* “There are no permanent allies with this guy (Trump).”–Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

* “Gilded Elba”: Trump’s updated Mar-a-Lago Club.

* For those wondering what it will realistically take for Trump to leave the presidential comeback center stage, the answer is still the same. He goes away when he no longer has a following. And said followers need Trump the way the Rev. Jim Jones’ disciples needed their Kool Aid conductor.

Sports Shorts

* The Rays’ future: Tampa or St. Petersburg? Or Nashville or Las Vegas? The leverage game is well underway.

* The Bucs injury-retirement-free-agency-induced fall from Super Bowl contender to long shot is hardly without precedent in the NFL, a salary-cap league that prioritizes “any given day” competitiveness and parity. Less we forget, the LA Rams, the defending Super Bowl winner, won’t even come close to making the playoffs this year.

* There are now 42 bowl games: way too many. As a result, participating teams, such as Florida, don’t even need a winning record to qualify.

* “A talent-acquisition business”: How University of Florida football coach Billy Napier has bluntly described the reality of college football.

* Tampa’s Reliaquest Bowl: At least Outback sounded like a bowl game. But so far, no signs of a “1-800-ASK GARY Bowl.”

* Firing college coaches for “cause.” Not just for scandals; isn’t losing sufficient cause in a sports world where everything, including NCAA football, is monetized?

* The Tampa Bay Lightning, the exemplar for professional sports franchises from community involvement to winning games and Stanley Cups, has now surpassed 300 consecutive sell outs at Amalie Arena.

* It wouldn’t be Christmas Eve or Christmas Day without a complete slate of NFL games.


* “Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.”–James Madison.

* “Ukraine will never surrender.”–Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

* “The global order is nearing a tipping point, and if democracy’s defenders do not work together to help guarantee freedom for all people, the authoritarian model will prevail.”–Freedom House.

* “Authoritarianism comes naturally to humans, while liberalism has to be taught—and fought for.”–Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch.

* “The GOP was given a choice between dishonor and defeat. They chose dishonor. They will have defeat.”–Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney

* “If Steve Bannon and I had organized (the Jan. 6 insurrection), we would have won. Not to mention we would’ve been armed.”–Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, in her address to the New York Young Republicans Club.

* “It feels like being in the same room with your rapist.”–California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, in describing what it’s like to work with Republicans who are still denying election results.

* “Wells Fargo’s rinse-repeat cycle of violating the law has harmed millions of American families.”–Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (The CFPB ordered Wells to repay $2 billion to consumers and enacted a $1.7 billion penalty against the bank.)

* “The growing field of ‘ethical investment’ demonstrates that over the long term, one can ‘do well by doing good.’”–William Felice, professor-emeritus of political science at Eckerd College.

* “The biggest, meatiest, beefiest property insurance reform legislation that the state has ever seen. … (But) that’s not going to provide immediate relief to home owners.”–Florida Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach.

* “We clearly want (the Rays) in Tampa, and St. Pete clearly wants them in St. Pete.”–Mayor Jane Castor.

* “It’s time for transparency and accountability at City Hall.”—Tampa City Councilman Bill Carlson.

Another Look At Our Politics And Our Priorities

Now, where were we?

Yes, it’s me again. The scribbler who had been anchored here for more than a decade–but has gone missing since June.

Here, in brief, is what happened: Call it the ultimate perfect storm. Imagine intimations of mortality when you are no longer a sexagenarian. Then add a paranoia-inducing pandemic. Then toss in the era of Trump and the most harmful and hateful politics in memory. Then having to write about it.

That gets you to levels of anxiety and anger and depression that are at odds with a sane, senior, democratic life.

That’s what I was confronted with early in my recent summer in Asheville, NC.

I’ll spare you most of the scary details, and they were scary, but it involved an overnight stay in an emergency room—that morphed into some down time in its psycho ward–at an HCA hospital. Nothing like a Rick Scott reminder when you are anxious, depressed, panicky, appetite-less, energy-challenged and light-headed. I kept thinking of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” What would Jack Nicholson say?

Well, after nearly six months, here’s what I’m saying—and we’ll see how it goes from here with therapy, med changes, very little TV and its visceral optics and some alterations in writing and scheduling. Please stay tuned, thank you for your readership and have a great holiday season.


* It’s not just supply-chain chaos and Russian-Ukrainian upshots that have heightened inflation, there’s also another related factor. If the price is still the same or only nominally higher, check for “shrinkflation.” That’s the new label for downsizing—from toilet paper and toothpaste to pizza, cereals and yogurt. Twenty percent fewer calories? No problem when you’re delivering 20 percent less of the product.

* Signs of the times: Dog parks have become increasingly popular. Dogs love them and the dynamics are self evident. Owners love them because a tired, satisfied dog is good for everybody. But not all owners are dog-park friendly when it comes to monitoring their dog—instead of their phones. That’s why there are signs like this one in Channelside’s Deputy John Kotfila Jr. Memorial Dog Park: “Your Dog’s Cute, But Its Poop Is Not. Please Clean Up.”