Vax Americana

As compassion fatigue inches up and public sympathy for unvaccinated patients plunges, we find out that five of Tampa Bay’s major hospital chains have no vaccine mandate. Thousands of their employees remain unvaccinated. If anyone should know the benefit—and flat-out necessity—of COVID vaccination, it’s these health-care officials and their employees. It may meet the approval of Gov. Regene(Ron) DeSantis, but it’s hypocritical, unethical, dumb and bordering on malpractice for hospital officials to call for the public to get vaccinated—but not mandate it for its own people who have to treat the unvaccinated infected by the delta variant. It makes it much more challenging to get to herd immunity when those who should know better can’t hear the call for accountability, common sense and public safety.

Some hospitals, it’s been noted, are worried about employees quitting over mandates. Seemingly not a problem for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital that has mandated vaccinations for its 3,000 employees.

Dem Notes

  • While the military leadership didn’t exactly respect having Donald Trump as commander in chief, the chaotic and humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan hasn’t made his successor a comrade in arms. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, seemed to be speaking through gritted teeth when he stated: “In war you do what you must in order to reduce risk to mission and force, not what you necessarily want to do.” That’s about as diplomatic as a general can be in the context of a de facto, CYA retreat.
  • The first two 9/11 hijackers to arrive in the U.S. ahead of the 2001 attack were welcomed and assisted by a Saudi Arabian diplomat. That fact has festered for two decades for victims’ families and helps explain the motivation to push for the declassification of long secret documents related to the attack. As a result, the president, who made a campaign pledge to release more information, has executive-ordered the FBI to complete its declassification review by Sept. 11, 2022. “Information should not remain classified,” said Biden, “when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any damage to national security.”
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., should not be this important. But in the context of $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation spending, he is.
  • “Republicans refusing to support anything on voting rights is not an excuse for Democrats to do nothing.”—Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.


  • The European Union “recommended” that its (27) member nations reinstate restrictions on tourists from the U.S. because of rising COVID infections. But member countries will still retain the option of allowing fully vaccinated U.S. travelers in.
  • To date, the WHO, at least the one whose acronym stands for the World Health Organization, does not have a vaccine mandate for its workers.
  • Peru has the highest rate for COVID deaths per 100,000 residents (616/100,000). The U.S., with 191/100,000, ranks 25th.
  • Since the beginning of the pandemic, the price of moving goods to the U.S. from Asia is up as much as tenfold.
  • The daily count of new infections is increasing in almost every part of the country. But only some states—mostly in the South with lower vaccination rates—are seeing a parallel surge in deaths.
  • Childhood (5 to 11) obesity has risen significantly during the pandemic.
  • Jackson Health System in Miami has been offering its employees a one-time $150 bonus to get fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.
  • Florida (Daytona Beach) conservative radio host Marc Bernier, who dubbed himself “Mr. Anti-Vax,” has died of COVID-19.

Tampa Bay

  • The upshot of Largo-based Tech Data’s $8.3 billion merger with California-based Synnex Corp. is that the resultant joint headquarters of TD Synnex gives Tampa Bay bragging rights to what is now the largest information technology distribution company in the world.
  • With the spike of seriously ill patients in its hospitals, the AdventHealth system has put resources in place to provide additional morgue capacity at AdventHealth Tampa.


  • Florida remains among a handful of states that have not applied for federal food aid, known as the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer program. The money—more than $800 million—comes with no mandates or required matching funds. The only requirement: A state willing to address food insecurity, which remains a problem for many Florida children. Rick “No-federal-light-rail-money-from-Obama” Scott probably would agree with the DuhSantis Administration.
  • Tallahassee keeps doubling down, whether it’s food help or public health. Latest on the latter is a Department of Health rule that can fine those business and governments $5,000 that require proof of vaccination from the public. It takes effect next week. This is more than whoring out to the Trump and DeSantis base by misappropriating “freedom” and “personal liberties.” This is unconscionable, parallel-universe stuff during a pandemic and all its manifest ripple effects.

By requiring proof of vaccination, businesses and governments are, in effect, requiring a collective conscience and enabling public health. It’s also a subset, ironically, of free-market principles.

Obviously the delta variant would not be superspreading, and Florida would not be known as “hospital hell” if common sense and common good–and not political cartooning and grandstanding–were the foremost government priority. Mortality rates would be lower were it not for Gov. DeathSantis. Florida needs vaccine passports—from bars to cruise liners. What it doesn’t need is career-and-party-first Trump acolytes doing their best to Make America Gratuitously Authoritarian. No, Florida is not post-pandemic; would that it were post-DeSantis.

  • “Abort DeSantis”: You know that bumper sticker is coming.

Media Matters

  • Another legacy hit: Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been stripped of the Emmy Award he received last year for his popular daily briefings on the coronavirus.
  • “This is a real estate deal, not a newspaper deal.”—Tampa Bay Times chairman and CEO Paul Tash, on the sale of its shuttered St. Petersburg printing plant for $21 million to (the real estate arm of) Alden Global Capital hedge fund.
  • The Washington Post reports on a study that showed that misinformation on Facebook got six times more clicks than factual news.
  • For the third consecutive time, the Associated Press has named a female executive editor, Julie Pace. For the record, the 175-year-old news organization provides roughly 730,000 articles, 70,000 videos and 1 million photos to more than 15,000 subscribers.
  • It’s not a word that turns up very often, but “shambolic” shows up in a lot of copy describing the mismanaged American withdrawal from the Afghanistan quagmire.


  • Ironically, some people actually look better in a mask. Think: Mitch McConnell.
  • Decal & Bumper Stickerisms: An eclectic mix—noted from red lights to parking lots. “Nature Bats Last.” “No Mud, No Lotus.” “Death Before Decaf.” “Don’t Frack With My Water Or Land.” “Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost.” “Books Change Lives.” “Children Should Be Seen & Heard & Believed.” “I Have Lived With Many Zen Masters, All Of Them Cats.” “Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Stupid People In Large Groups.” “Live Simply That Others May Simply Live.” “Today Is The Oldest You’ve Ever Been, Yet The Youngest You’ll Ever Be.” “Make Orwell Fiction Again.”
  • How about a poll on the reliability of polls?

Sports Shorts

  • The recent Rays series against the Red Sox was important enough for ESPN to show up for the first game–won by the Rays–and carry it nationally. Most fans, however, stayed away in droves. The attendance for the 6-1 Rays win was 6,753—the smallest crowd ever for a Rays-BoSox game at the Trop. Playing indoors during a pandemic hardly helped.
  • MLB Network has made it mandatory for all its employees to be vaccinated. As a result, two of its biggest names, Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz and former All-Star Al Leiter, will no longer appear in-studio.
  • As the college football conference-maneuvering continues, we’ll be seeing speculation gin up. Including the depleted Big 12. UCF, now nationally prominent, will be in the conversation, but USF is playing its way out of Power Five possibility. If the current losing trend–including that embarrassing, season-opening 45-0 hammering by North Carolina State–doesn’t turn around, the Bulls could be left with Jim Leavitt nostalgia.

Trumpster Diving

  • According to intelligence reports, far-right extremist groups such as The Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers will rally later (Sept. 18) this month at the U.S. Capitol to demand “justice” for those charged in connection with the Jan. 6 siege. A key, ironic, call will be made by the Capitol Police regarding the defense of the People’s House: Do they or don’t they build that fence?
  • “If our election systems continue to be rigged and continue to be stolen, then it’s going to lead to one place, and it’s bloodshed.”—That was first-year Republican Congressman Madison Cawthorn, a repellent North Carolina Oaf Keeper, awaiting more self-fulfilling dog whistles from Trump.
  • That was then: In 2016, the Republican National Committee Platform included the ideological reminder that the RNC “recognizes the wisdom of local control of our schools” and “we support a constitutional amendment to protect that right from interference by states.” Too bad that old-school tenet no longer applies to, among others, Florida.
  • “Their governing during the pandemic has made clear that (Texas Gov. Greg) Abbott and (Florida Gov. Ron) DeSantis are essentially Donald Trump without the tweets.”—Perry Bacon Jr., WaPo.
  • We’ve already had the “Roaring ‘20s.” If the GOP continues its Trump-fealty makeover –no longer lionizing local control, limited spending and free trade–it will bequeath us the “Whoring ‘20s.”
  • Here’s how Trump flunky Matt Gaetz described the Taliban on Twitter: “More legitimate than the last government in Afghanistan or the current government here.”
  • Kabul-sh*t: Here’s a Tucker Carlson take that also weaves partisan political ideology into the Afghan cauldron. “Maybe it’s possible that we failed in Afghanistan because the entire neoliberal program is grotesque,” said Carlson with a straight Fox face.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent visits to Iowa—undercutting his promise to Floridians that he was focused on his Senate job–have increased speculation that he just might be trying to revive his presidential ambitions. In short, take at shot when there might not be a “Little Marco”-spewing “con man” to contend with.
  • Religious voters, especially white evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics, are part of the bedrock of the modern Republican Party.”—Eastern Illinois University political scientist Ryan Burge.
  • Trump has promised the “Complete and Total Endorsement!” of Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson who has filed to run for agriculture commissioner. The incumbent, Nikki Fried, is challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis next year. BTW, Simpson recently announced that Tallahassee lawmakers were–no surprise–already working on an anti-abortion bill for next year’s legislative session.


  • “The question for President Joe Biden is how to be president in a country that no longer unites in response to catastrophes. I can’t help but imagine what today’s Twitter trolls would have said about President Franklin D. Roosevelt on the day after Pearl Harbor.”—Eugene Robinson, WaPo.
  • “The Islamic Emirate wants a good and diplomatic relationship with the Americans.”—Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban’s main spokesman.
  • “America has no alternative but to work with the Taliban in some way to protect U.S. interests.”—David Ignatius, Washington Post.
  • “Perpetuating a costly, unwinnable war that left us enmeshed in a narco-state rife with corruption was no formula for preserving America’s stature.”—Jennifer Rubin, WaPo.
  • “The Afghan surrender is the most visible evidence that the era of Pax Americana is over.”—Bret Stephens, NYT.
  • “The fierce urgency of now.”—Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “The unvaccinated are a big highway of transmission. The vaccinated are a little side street.”—Dr. William Schaffner, professor of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University.
  • “If we are going to make our country more resilient to natural disasters wherever they are, we have to start preparing now. We can’t look in the rearview mirror and say, ‘Boy, I wish we were prepared.’”—Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy.
  • “The most pernicious thing about the Texas law, it sort of creates a vigilante system.” —President Joe Biden.
  • “Presented with an application to enjoin a flagrantly unconstitutional law engineered to prohibit women from exercising their constitutional rights and evade judicial scrutiny, a majority of (SCOTUS) justices have opted to bury their heads in the sand.”—Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
  • “Freedom is good policy and good politics.”—Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
  • “The purpose of this litigation is not to create some kind of windfall for government. The purpose is to get much needed resources on the ground to help with treatment, abatement and prevention of addiction.”—Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White, on Hillsborough’s share of an opioid settlement—against Johnson & Johnson and three drug distributors—that could reach $60 million for treatment, prevention and other efforts to combat the addiction crisis.
  • “This is an exciting time to take the helm of such an impactful organization.”—Bemetra Simmons, the newly named president of the Tampa Bay Partnership. Simmons, who had been the United Way Suncoast’s chief strategy and operations officer, becomes TBP’s first female–and black–CEO.
  • “It really highlights the reality out there that if people don’t trust law enforcement or they’re really worried about retaliation, it blocks us from keeping the public safe.”—Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, on the acquittal of two murder suspects after eyewitnesses refused to testify at trial.
  • “We navigated the worst storm this ship’s ever been in. And now I’m happy to tell you we came out stronger than before the pandemic.”—TIA CEO Joe Lopano, on data showing more than 1.7 million travelers passed through the airport in July—nearly at pre-pandemic levels.