John Lewis Legacy

  “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  • Cancel culture.” Bring it. Cancel the Trump-cult culture on Nov. 3.
  • What do you do when you’ve grossly mismanaged a pandemic that has cost lives and livelihoods? Another Chris Wallace interview certainly won’t help. So, you panic and pivot. In so doing, you recklessly resort to the reviled “law and order” mantra associated with George Wallace and Richard Nixon. And you scapegoat and demonize the usual suspects. The partisan political message: Only Trump, the instigator-in-chief, truly stands up to anarchy. Only he, as he has told us, can “fix it.”

How far we’ve regressed.

But the ultimate charlatan showman gets his optics—however much induced and provoked by de facto federal stormtroopers in cities such as Portland—that can appeal to his base and maybe frighten others already blindsided by the pandemic. Call it Lafayette Square on ‘roids—as well as an outtake from the autocrat’s playbook.

We’re already seeing it play out on political ads that don’t show unrest turned into chaos via militaristic provocations—only protestors’ responses. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown underscored the scorched earth reality. “It throws gasoline on the fire.” It’s what you get when the narcissist-in-chief, facing the prospect of a humiliating defeat less than 100 days from now, doubles down on doing the Reich thing.

  • In case you missed it: According to President Trump, it is now “patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance.” Disingenuous upshot: hypocrisy unmasked.
  • “He’s shot. (Biden’s) mentally shot.” That was the cognitive-tester-in chief, who recently bragged of having “aced” his (“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”) Montreal Cognitive Assessment test. Too bad it wasn’t a high school civics exam.
  • “We are too big a people to be able to be careless in what we say.” That was President Teddy Roosevelt, who could be frank, impulsive and knew his way around a bully pulpit, but also knew that words mattered mightily—domestically and internationally. Those were the days.
  • And speaking of TR, he famously said: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” The infamous, Trump version: “Speak cluelessly and carry a narcissistic schtick.”
  • The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has told the Trump campaign and the RNC to stop using the former president’s image to fundraise. What’s next? “Mr. Trump, tear down this wall of nativism, xenophobia and divisiveness”?
  • The hawkish Republican Rep. Liz Cheney has not been endearing herself to the Trump Administration on its handling of the pandemic. She’s a high-profile defender of Dr. Anthony Fauci and has even tweeted a photo of her dad, THAT Dick Cheney, in a mask with the hashtag “realmenwearmasks.” It all helps.

I’m president, I’m not king.”—Barack Obama, back in the day.

COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

  • West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has urged young people to work the upcoming polls as a “call to arms” not unlike joining the military after 9/11. Good analogy. Remember “… What you can do for your country”? JFK didn’t speak in a pandemic context, but the principle applies.
  • National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien is now the highest-ranking White House official to test positive for the coronavirus.
  • Since July, Arizona leads the nation in new infections per test: 25.3 percent. Florida is second at 18.8 percent.
  • An estimated 27 million American workers require child care, which includes schools, to return to full-time work.
  • 77: That’s how many hand sanitizers have been recalled by the FDA because they contain dangerous levels of wood alcohol.
  • Limits of virtual classrooms: Boston, for example, reported that roughly 20 percent of enrolled students never logged in.
  • About 46 percent of Florida deaths are linked to long-term care facilities.
  • The Toronto Blue Jays will not play their home games at home this season. By order of Canadian health officials, teams will not be permitted to fly in and out of Toronto from the COVID-epicenter that is the U.S. Canada is afraid that frequent travel to and from the U.S. could provoke a spike in coronavirus cases. No one is happy—but Justin Trudeau possibly feels a sense of reprisal for Trump’s arrogant, ally-alienating “America First” agenda.
  • 206: COVID-19 cases reported in Hillsborough County Public Schools this year. Five of the patients were students.
  • He’s still a player: Dr. Anthony Fauci threw outthe ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals MLB opener against the Yankees. It’s what you do when you are disinvited from the reintroduced presidential coronavirus press ramblings. It’s also what you do when you are the Nationals and you want someone appropriate to throw out the season-opening first pitch during a pandemic. That, of course, should be the president—unless he’s more of a self-serving, chaotic enabler than a genuine leader during a crisis.
  • Marriott Hotels, the world’s largest hotel chain, has begun requiring guests to use facial coverings in its 7,300 hotels. The requirement applies to guests in all indoor public spaces. Good idea—three months ago.
  • As we’ve been seeing, you can’t mask ignorance and stupidity.
  • The Small Business Administration and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are being sued because the PPP has denied help to adult businesses and strip clubs.

Dem Notes

  • The latest Quinnipiac Poll has Joe Biden ahead of Trump by 13 points in Florida.
  • As it turns out, Biden’s best zip codes, in terms of the number of donors, are on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Trump’s best zip code includes much of The Villages, the hard-core conservative retirement community in Central Florida.

BTW, Trump lost his home Manhattan district to Hillary Clinton in 2016, which surprised no one. Home districts know their candidates best.

  • “Yes We Can”: Getting Barack Obama personally involved is the biggest “get” there is.
  • The Biden campaign has hired a faith adviser who worked on Obama’s re-election campaign. Top priority: Keep anti-abortion Democrats motivated for the Democratic challenger.

Tampa Bay

  • Lawyers for Equal Justice”: More than 100 St. Petersburg attorneys gathered on the downtown lawn of the Judicial Courthouse to make a united call for equal justice under the law. It was the counterpart of what a number of Tampa attorneys did in June. It matters a lot when those of direct influence and impact on the criminal justice system weigh in with conscience—as well as influence.
  • Holy disinfectant protocols! Scooters are back. What could go wrong with their shared nature during a pandemic? Could they be carrying more than just those who scoot—until they’re dropped off—or just dropped?

John Lewis Legacy

The words “hero” and “patriot” are too easily misappropriated by partisans in this politically divisive, bumper-sticker culture. And the words “legend” and “icon” are routinely devalued in a society that often lacks historical perspective.

And then there is John Lewis. The late, alas, John Lewis. Hero. Patriot. Legend. Icon.

The death of the 17-term Georgia congressman, 80, has unsurprisingly galvanized non-Trump America, which is still, thankfully, a majority of Americans. He embodied what we should all want in our American heroes.

An original “Freedom Rider” and former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Lewis risked his life—and literally shed his blood—for the moral cause of racial equality without ever invoking or stoking violence. “Find a way to get in the way” was never a dog whistle to riot—or respond in kind to police brutality and white bigotry. Neither was “good trouble.” Lewis stood for morality not militancy—the antithesis of “Burn, baby, burn.” He boycotted Trump’s inauguration.

This son of a rural Alabama sharecropper family never let national forums be about anything other than the righteous cause he devoted his life to. He became very important, but never self-important. The cause was always center stage—not Lewis. It was about principle—not personality.

He earned his iconic status—and never leveraged it to boost his image. He was the North Star of anti-racism and voting rights, the avatar of class–and the conscience of the Congress. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama and, in passing, became the first black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol’s Rotunda. No, President Trump, was not among those paying final respects.

BTW, a lot of empty monument pedestals now loom, especially in the South. That’s an obvious opportunity for Lewis lionization, as well as affixing his name to a certain Selma bridge. Restoring the Voting Rights Act should be a given. Symbolically, such public displays of homage would help extend his morally-courageous life’s work of making America honor its ideals by non-violently ending racism.

Media Matters

  • “America then, as told by America now.”—How Lin-Manuel Miranda has described “Hamilton.”
  • Re: The cringe-worthy, Chris Wallace Fox grilling of Trump. Mike Wallace would be proud.
  • Michael Cohen’s book, expected out before the election, will be, of course, “unflattering” to Trump. Cohen knows a lot more than just details about hush money to bimbos. And word is that he’ll be sharing Trump’s flair for racist and anti-Semitic comments. As for reactions, no one expects House Negro Ben Carson or sycophantic, Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner to be insulted, angry or surprised.
  • It still seems weird, even in the new normal, to see a Wall Street Journal ad in the Tampa Bay Times.
  • Ron DeSantis reality: Not being Rick Scott is not enough. Not nearly. And, yes, he’s still showing up on “Fox & Friends.”
  • “People need a break from the news.”—Comedian Jim Gaffigan.

Sports Shorts

  • It’s some kind of a parallel-universe baseball season that’s underway: no fans, lots of masks and some rule changes—like a universal designated hitter. But there are familiar constants besides spitting. Here’s one that won’t go away—unless MLB implements a salary cap so that teams, regardless of market size and consequent TV deals, can all play by the same rules. Exhibit A: The Rays payroll last year ($64.2 million) was less than 30 percent of the New York Yankees’ payroll. And that’s before the Yankees signed free agent pitcher Gerrit Cole to an obscene, 9-figure contract.
  • The Rays have no African-American players on the roster. First base coach–and Tampa native–Ozzie Timmons is the team’s only uniformed African-American.
  • “I get asked every day if college sports will return this fall. The consensus opinion among our health advisers is significant change must occur for that to happen.”—NCAA President Mark Emmert.
  • MLB’s Miami Marlins recently had 17 players and two staff members test positive for the coronavirus—leading to postponements.
  • Until further NFL notice, it will be the Washington Football Team: Obviously, no focus group was involved.

Quoteworthy

  • “We will win anyway, even with the phony @FoxNews suppression polls.”—Donald Trump.
  • “With their attempts at coercion, they’ve politicized school reopening just as Trump politicized mask-wearing and hydroxychloroquine.”—Michelle Goldberg, New York Times.
  • “While thousands of Americans die alone, Donald touts stock market gains. … If he can in any way profit from your death, he’ll facilitate it, and then he’ll ignore the fact that you died.”—Mary L. Trump, author of “Too Much and Never Enough.”
  • “I personally think that the Republican brand is probably destroyed. It’s destroyed by it having become essentially a personality cult.”—George Conway, Lincoln Project co-founder.
  • “It used to be that anything past 270 electoral votes was useless because it doesn’t matter how far you run past the goal line in football. But for the first time in American history, there’s a legitimate concern that the incumbent president will not surrender power.”—Democratic strategist Paul Begala.
  • “It’s a judgment of the depths of Americans’ gullibility.”—Frank Bruni, New York Times, on the 2020 election.
  • “Leftist movements today see our crises as intersectional. Police violence, global warming and unaffordable housing are not disconnected, discrete problems; instead, they emerge from colonialism and capitalism.”—Ohio State University law professor Amna A. Akbar.
  • “In front of reporters, Rep. Yoho called me, and I quote, a ‘f***ing bitch.’”—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. in denouncing Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fl.
  • “Investing is the only business where, when things are on sale, people run out of the store.”—Meb Faber, co-founder of Cambria Investment Management.
  • “Lengthy and potential permanent requirements that individuals wear face masks in many or even all public spaces create the very real risk of increases in bank robberies.”—Brian P. Brooks, acting Comptroller of the Currency.
  • “Florida taxpayers are not going to pay for New York’s expenses.”—Sen. Rick Scott, in voicing his disagreement about the federal government’s new virus aid package to “bail out” cash-strapped states.
  • “I’m glad Donald Trump took his head out of the sand long enough to realize what a predictable, preventable disaster he was about to inflict on the city of Jacksonville.”—Terrie Rizzo, chairwoman of the Democratic Party Florida.
  • “It was obviously shocking news … but I think the president acted in a selfless way.”—State Sen. Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida.
  • “There’s no question that this convention not taking place is a missed opportunity, particularly for those who are rising stars in the Republican Party.”—Matt Terrill, former chief of staff on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign.
  • “It is often asked whether it is safe to return kids to school. It should also be asked, how safe is it to keep schools closed?”—Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • “DeSantis and his administration are barreling ahead in search of herd immunity, where the weak of the herd are lost so that the rest of the herd can continue on.”—Florida State Sen. Janet Cruz.
  • “I think most faculty feel confident that decisions being made are based on data and science. That’s something received well by people in a university setting.”—USF Faculty Senate president Timothy Boaz.
  • “The big issue here was: Can we take money for paying for things that are nice to have to pay for things we desperately need.”—Tampa City Council member Bill Carlson, in unsuccessfully proposing the end of the Channel District Community Redevelopment Area.

More Trumpster Diving

“A Republic, if you can keep it.”

  • We were reminded by Robert Mueller that his investigation “did establish that the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome.” The obviously begged question—unproven “collusion” notwithstanding—is why? Did the Russians want an American president who would disparage allies and undermine NATO? One who would publicly accept Vladimir Putin’s denials in Russian meddling in the 2016 election or in offering bounties for American deaths? One who would share an authoritarian mindset with the autocratic Putin? One who would concede leverage to Putin for, uh, whatever reason? All of that is still out there—and still adversely impacting America’s international influence, which works to the self-serving advantage of President Putin.
  • “I have to see.” That was Donald Trump’s response to Fox News’ Chris Wallace as to whether he will accept the results of an election loss. Sobering. Scary. Predictable.
  • Even uber conservative Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas agree that the president does not have absolute immunity.
  • Trump is the first president since FDR whose administration has lost more Supreme Court cases than it won.
  • Speaking of SCOTUS, liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, was hospitalized again recently and is undergoing chemotherapy for a cancer recurrence. Whoever wins in November will replace her. If it’s Trump, he’ll make sure his next Federalist Society choice will be more like Clarence Thomas than Neil Gorsuch.
  • “If it’s Goya, it has to be good.” If it’s Ivanka Trump, it has to be an ethics violation.
  • So, campaign manager Brad Pascale is out—after that Tulsa-rally fiasco—and GOP careerist Bill Stepien has taken his place. Makes sense. Paul Manafort wasn’t available.
  • A recent Washington Post/ABC poll shows 38 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Why isn’t that 0 percent?
  • Not among the politically prominent whose Twitter accounts were subject to attacks: President Trump. No surprise; he tweets like a hacker.
  • “I leave elected office with my integrity intact.” That’s former Alabama senator and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was excoriated and humiliated by Trump, after he had lost the Republican Senate primary in Alabama. Integrity? He must have recused himself from reality.

COVID Bits

  • Among the COVID scenarios that will eventually play out: Who gets the first doses of any effective vaccine? An extended rollout will include a ranking system. According to a preliminary plan of the CDC and an advisory committee of health experts, any approved vaccines would be offered first to vital medical and national security officials. Then to other essential workers and those in the high-risk category, such as the elderly and those with underlying conditions.

Then there is the matter of race and ethnicity. It will be a controversial option. In short, it would mean putting blacks and Latinos, who have disproportionately been impacted by COVID, ahead of others in the population. To wit: the infection rates among blacks and Latinos is three times that of whites. The death rate is twice that of whites.

Racial justice is not immune from vaccination politics. Court challenges are likely.

  • But let’s not forget: Vaccines don’t save lives; vaccinations do.
  • “Everyone is lying. The CDC, media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.”—That COVIDiotic tweet came from right-wing-spewing, talk-show host Chuck Woolery. But then the spewer-in-chief retweeted it to the usual cult followers.
  • Two dozen: The approximate number of possible COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of testing around the world.
  • “When you compare us to other countries, I don’t think you can say we’re doing great. I mean we are just not.”—Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
  • Two months: The amount of time since Trump was last briefed by Dr. Anthony Fauci.  
  • The U.S. leads the world in obesity—42 percent of adults. It’s a major health risk. CDC case tracking shows that among those hospitalized for COVID, nearly half are obese.
  • TeleTracking Technologies has replaced the CDC in collecting data from hospitals related to the coronavirus.
  • “The younger people have been contaminating the older people.”—Carlos Migoya, CEO of Miami’s Jackson Health System.
  • 6 percent: statewide percentage of coronavirus cases that result in hospitalization.
  • State unemployment numbers: June—10.4 percent; May—14.5 percent. Tampa Bay unemployment numbers: June–9.2 percent; May—12.2 percent.
  • More than 70 percent of all Pinellas County deaths from COVID are tied to long-term care facilities.
  • 5 percent: What the WHO recommends for positivity rates for reopening communities. In Florida, the average weekly positivity rate was approximately 19 percent in July, according to Johns Hopkins University.
  • The CDC has extended the U.S. ban on cruise ships through the end of September. The no-sail order had been scheduled to expire July 24.
  • Countries, in order, with the most COVID cases: U.S., Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa.
  • “De-escalation Training”: What Walmart gives to employees on how to deal with shoppers who refuse to comply with mask requirements.
  • More than 11,500: The number of grocery workers who have tested positive nationally for the coronavirus. At least 82: The number of grocery workers who have subsequently died.
  • “We respect people’s rights … to not wear a mask.” That was Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who has backed one of the country’s most aggressive reopening plans. Stitt recently became the first governor in the U.S. to test positive for the coronavirus.
  • 73,201: No, that’s not a COVID number, but the official toll of people who have “disappeared” during Mexico’s 14-year epidemic of criminal violence. That total includes 324 Americans.