Perilous Times

According to the new book “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, Gen. Mark Milleyfelt the need to personally–and secretly–assure his Chinese counterpart that the U.S., regardless of what Demander-in-Chief Trump was blustering and tweeting about, would not attack China. Trump and his GOPster lackeys have now labeled the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs a “traitor.”

He’s not. In a Strangelovian way, he actually had the back of anybody who understandably feared a cataclysmic, worst-case scenario with a raging, unhinged president with access to nuclear codes. But Gen. Milley did have other choices besides blind fealty to an existential threat. He could have made a high-profile resignation—and then lend de facto support for, say, the 25th Amendment that can be invoked to remove a president for disability, including mental imbalance. Perhaps Mike Pence would have agreed by that time.

Dem Notes

  • Among those cheering loudest for a Trump loss and a Biden win was Europe. Having an unstable, unreliable “America First” United States was hardly in its interest. From the European Union to NATO. So, the election of the geopolitically savvy Joe Biden was very welcome. The post-Trump U.S. was “back.”

But the honeymoon was short-lived. It began with the president’s poorly managed Afghanistan withdrawal. It was not only chaotic, it was without meaningful consultation with England and other European allies who had contributed to the war effort. The Brits, in particular, felt dissed by a close ally.

Then came the unnuanced “pivot to Asia.” The Biden Administration, sans a serious heads-up, announced a new defense strategy against China. This was more than unilateral tariffs. This was an alliance among Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.—or AUKUS. A key element was an American nuclear-powered submarine deal with the Aussies. That meant that Australia’s previous submarine deal with the French—worth $66 billion—was now trashed. France was enraged and embarrassed. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called it a “knife in the back,” and President Emmanuel Macron signed off on the protest-recall of the French ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia. Such diplomatic rebukes are rare and usually reserved for untrustworthy adversaries—not long-time allies. While nobody—other than Hungary’s Viktor Orban—in Europe is nostalgic for Donald Trump, there is no masking the abrupt end of the Biden honeymoon with the Western alliance.

  • “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”—President Joe Biden, cutting to the existential chase and calling out the 80 million clueless, arrogant “liberty” hypocrites who haven’t bothered to get a pandemic-mitigating and life-saving shot.
  • No, there won’t be a Gov. Larry Elder of California, as unconscionably embarrassing as that would have been, especially in a state that is overwhelmingly Democrat. It also made for some positive optics for President Biden who showed up in person to help the cause.
  • About 12.2 million Americans are actively enrolled in medical-care coverage under the Affordable Care Act. That’s an increase of roughly 20 percent since the end of 2020.
  • Sobering reminder: In 2020 Joe Biden won white college graduates by 15 points—but lost whites without college degrees by 32 points.
  • Among items included in the $3.5 trillion budget package: a Civilian Climate Corps, patterned after FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps that would hire young people to work on projects to protect communities and the environment. Liberal lawmakers want to fund the program under the umbrella of AmeriCorps, a federally-funded national service program sometimes referred to as the domestic Peace Corps. Hardly surprising that GOPsters have called a new iteration of the CCC a boondoggle that would enable “eco-vigilantes.”
  • President Biden will have a big call to make early next year. That’s when the term ends for Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome H. Powell.
  • AOC at the Met Gala: It’s a big-ticket night that showcases celebs, influencers and the haute couture crowd. But it’s not the populist context that a non-elite, progressive such as Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez should want to be on display, even if attired in a floor-length white gown with “Tax The Rich” ironically emblazoned on the back. In short, she  looked like she belonged there. Another unforced error for the Party.
  • California could prove to be a strategic precursor for the Dems as they prep for 2022. Recall how unrecalled Gov. Gavin Newsom spoke less about California’s improved economy and progressive policies than he did about the gubernatorial implications of right-wing extremist Larry Elder. And then there was the Newsom campaign’s rallying cry: “Don’t DeSantis my California,” which underscored that Flori-duh’s governor was not just a (Trump) flunky, but a helpful Democratic foil.


  • The W.H.O. and its partners now hope to provide Africa with about 30 percent of the vaccines the continent needs by February. Previously, the W.H.O. had hoped to provide 60 percent vaccine coverage by the end of this year.
  • “No one is safe until everyone is safe. In a way, it doesn’t matter if it is in Chad or in Bulgaria.”—Guntram Wolff, the head of Bruegel, the Brussels-based think tank devoted to policy research on economic issues.
  • More than 90 percent of Israelis older than 50 have been immunized against the coronavirus.
  • Unexcusable absence: An Alaska Republican state senator, Lora Reinbold, has asked to be excused from legislative sessions until next year. Seems that she has no way to fly to the state capital (Juneau) after she was banned from Alaska Airlines for violating mask   policies.
  • More than half (26) the states have pushed through laws that permanently weaken government authority to protect public health.
  • Sales of iPhones have exploded during the pandemic.
  • From July 25 to Aug. 22, Florida’s share of the nation’s nursing home resident deaths was 21 percent, and this state’s share of the nation’s nursing home staff deaths was 17 percent.
  • According to the CDC, nearly 43 percent of American adults were obese in 2018, thus at higher risk for medical conditions and death—especially during a pandemic.
  • Pinellas County is gearing up to spend up to $4 million—from American Rescue Plan funds—to incentivize vaccination for all county employees. If approved by commissioners, employees would receive $750 from the county by the end of 2021. Whatever happened to doing the right thing for the right reasons and not needing a bribe, oops incentive, beyond helping to save lives.
  • “My own final word to anti-vaxxers: If you refuse to get vaccinated and come down with COVID-19, don’t expect any sympathy from me. You asked for it. You got it. You deserve it.”—Bill Press, political commentator, host of the “The BillPressPod” and former co-host of CNN’s “CrossFire.”

Tampa Bay

  • Yes, ferry service—linking south Hillsborough County and MacDill AFB—is still under serious study. In fact, the business community has weighed in with the Tampa Bay, South Tampa and Greater Riverview chambers of commerce announcing their joint support for such a service. “I’m thrilled,” said Hillsborough Commission Chairwoman Pat Kemp about the triple endorsement.  “We have this gift of water. It’s the lowest-cost transit system you can possibly have to move people.”        
  • The St. Petersburg Firestone Grand Prix will race around downtown St. Pete a little earlier in 2022. It will be held from Feb. 24-27; it had previously been scheduled for March 10-12. The change is more than a calendar alteration; it ensures a network TV spot and potentially greater coverage. It’s likely not much of a consolation to the Dali Museum and other DT interests, but it also means that St. Pete will now be hosting the first event of the 2022 IndyCar season.


  • “I want more learning and less test prep.” Gov. Ron DeSantis, in calling on lawmakers to eliminate annual exams for English/language arts and math.
  • “They are watching what happens, in China and in Iran and in North Korea and in Moscow. Those countries feared Donald Trump. They don’t fear Joe Biden and they don’t respect Joe Biden.”—That was Ron DeSantis, tending to his day job of running for higher office, in speaking at Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts’ annual steak-fry fundraiser in Nebraska City. BTW, Nebraska City is near the southeastern border with Iowa, the first state to vote in presidential primaries. Also speaking at the fundraiser: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former VP Mike Pence.

Sports Shorts

  • The NHL estimates that 98 percent of players will be vaccinated by the time the season begins Oct. 12.
  • The next Winter Olympics after Beijing are in Milan-Cortina in Italy in 2026. The next Summer Olympics: Paris in 2024. Speaking of the Summer Games, a study by the University of Oxford found the Tokyo Games to be the most expensive on record. Japan officially spent $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics and Paralympics—double the original estimate.
  • Former Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who has national championships on his collegiate resume, is off to a rough, 0-2 start in his NFL debut with the Jacksonville Jaguars. There is precedent. Ask Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban and Lou Holtz.

Trumpster Diving

  • Not unlike his mentor and lodestar, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis doesn’t just look smug, he’s also cultivating that extra-arrogant Benito Mussolini look. Watch out, if he starts crossing his arms.
  • “Our hearts and minds are with the people being prosecuted so unfairly relating to the Jan. 6th protest concerning the Rigged Presidential Election.” That was Trump showing solidarity with the rioters being prosecuted in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol siege and support for the “Justice for J6” rally.
  • Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves, in acknowledging the obvious, has stated that “The vaccine itself in lifesaving”—but, still, those vaccine mandates were, uh, “terrifying,” added Reeves. Moreover, “This is still America, and we still believe in freedom from tyrants.” As well as fealty to would-be versions.
  • “This is an important race because it is key to taking back the House.” That’s Trump on his endorsement of “warrior” Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican primary for Florida’s 13th Congressional District—the seat currently held by Democrat Charlie Crist.
  • Family knows best: Among those soliciting contributions to counter the “dark money donors” that helped put “the most dangerous man in America” in office is Mary Trump, the ex-president’s niece.


  • “The cross is not a flag to wave, but the pure source of a new way of living.”—Pope Francis, in rejecting the use of the cross and other religious symbols as political tools.
  • “Just two, three years ago, it was very in vogue for Chinese families to send their children to American institutions. We’ve noticed a decrease in that culture … and it’s unfortunate.”—Joseph Ingram of SOS Admissions, a college consulting agency.
  • “When people feel uncertain, they’d rather have someone who’s strong and wrong than somebody who’s weak and right.”—Former President Bill Clinton, after 9/11.
  • “Trump’s faux tough-guy routine led to the lethal political divide on masks, which undermined our ability to beat the virus.”—Maureen Dowd, New York Times.
  • “It should concern us all that hospitalizations—indicators of severe illness—are rising in the pediatric population.”—USF epidemiologist Dr. Jason L. Salemi, who tracks COVID-19 hospitalization data, which show a spike in children’s cases where fewer people have been vaccinated.
  • “Anytime the attention is on Joe Biden, it’s good for Republicans, and anytime the attention is on Jan. 6, it’s bad for Republicans. The only hope Democrats have of keeping the House is to make Jan. 6 the issue of the campaign.”—Republican strategist John Freehery.
  • “Let’s be clear. With a Democratic president, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, Democrats have every tool they need to raise the debt limit. … Republicans will not facilitate another reckless, partisan taxing and spending spree.”—Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
  • “Near miraculous declines in the cost of renewal energy mean that we already have the technology needed to move away from fossil fuels fairly cheaply. … (But) at this point, climate denialism has a deathlike grip on the GOP.”—Paul Krugman, New York Times.
  • “Continuing to allow this giant bank with a broken culture to conduct business in its current form poses substantial risks to consumers and the financial system.”—Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a letter to the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that underscores the need to break up Wells Fargo.
  • “Background checks are supported by Democrats, Republicans, gun owners and non-gun owners. The only place where they’re controversial is the Senate.”—John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
  • “Tampa Bay is at an inflection point. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that St. Pete elect a partner in progress, a proven inclusive leader, and a person whose deep roots uniquely position him to take St. Pete into the next great chapter of their city.”—Mayor Jane Castor, in endorsing Ken Welch for mayor of St. Petersburg.