Dismounting Rushmore

 “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

* When you are an uninformed, Russia-fawning authoritarian and you lose military credibility, your prospects are under siege and likely under water.

* President Donald Trump has stated that he will veto the $740 billion annual defense bill if military bases are renamed. It’s beyond ironic and cluelessly counterproductive that commander bone spurs would leverage the military budget to try and retain statues of traitors.

* It was, alas, vintage Trump at the foot of Mount Rushmore on the eve of Independence Day. It was an occasion to ponder America’s flawed but intrepid journey to a democratic republic. It came with an iconic backdrop and forum to address patriotic Americans blindsided by a pandemic and racial unrest. Then he delivered a discordant, “cancel culture” message that focused on disaffected white voters, his base. So much for unifying a dangerously divisive country.

“We will not be terrorized, we will not be demeaned, and we will not be intimidated by bad, evil people,” proclaimed the demeaner-in-chief to the crowd of mainly maskless supporters. It’s what you get when Trump is president, and Stephen Miller is his go-to speechwriter: hateful histrionics over history. At least “carnage” wasn’t referenced.

Speaking of unmasked supporters, how karmic, if not Faustian, that Donald Trump Jr’s Foxygirlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, tested positive for opportunism, political harlotry and the coronavirus. Guilfoyle, a former Fox News personality, chairs the Trump Victory Finance Committee.

* “The Russian Bounty story is … all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me and the Republican Party.” Slanderer-in-Chief Trump.

* “The fact is the president himself is a hoax.”–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

* 2020: Doesn’t November seem more like an intervention than an election?

* “Denigrating this luxury Avenue.” That was the denigrator-in-chief’s reaction to New York City’s plan to paint a Black Lives Matter mural on Fifth Street outside Trump Tower.

* “He’s losing. And if he doesn’t change course, both in terms of the substance of what he’s discussing and the way he approaches the American people, then he will lose.”–Former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

* “(Trump’s) really the campaign manager at the end of the day.”–Jared Kushner, underscoring the obvious.

* “It could easily be ‘election week’ rather than election day.”–John Lapinski, director of elections at NBC News, on the more time-consuming, ballot-counting process involved with mail-in voting.

* “Every nation gets the government it deserves.” We’ve all heard the adage, coined by 18th century French philosopher Joseph de Maistre, that typically applied to other countries.

* Kanye West for president? In the era of Trump precedent, nothing is unthinkable, including a West-Eminem ticket.

COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

* TIA projects an average of 280 daily (arriving and departing) flights this month. In June, the average was 175. In June 2019, the average was 506 flights per day.

* “There has to be a clear coherent sustained communication, and that has absolutely not happened. We’ve had just the opposite, and now it’s hard to unring a whole series of bells.”–Dr. William Schaffner, infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University.

* According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, about 22 percent of hospital beds are open statewide.

* “There’s just more and more data showing that the use of face coverings and masks are an effective way to prevent transmission.”–Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC.

* The most recent (press time) 24-hour record of new Florida cases reported: 11,445.

* “If the Northeast looks like Europe, the South is starting to look like Brazil.”–Paul Krugman, New York Times.

Dem Notes

* Latino Magazine has given Joe Biden a zero-sum presidential endorsement: “The alternative to President Biden is unthinkable.” So much for Kanye West. But, seriously, it’s also a reminder that the Hispanic community has been hit especially hard by coronavirus–as well as by the Trump Administration’s less-than-adroit handling of the pandemic. Latinos make up more than a third of COVID cases nationwide, although only 18 percent of the population. Sheltering in place  hasn’t been possible for a number of Latino families with members who work in industries that never shut down–from farms and food-processing plants to hospital orderlies and food preparers. And Latinos are expected to be the largest non-white voting block–and a likely difference-maker in states such as Florida, North Carolina and Arizona.

With that in mind, the Biden campaign is doubling down on Spanish language ads that starkly contrast Biden and Trump–as in “Los cuentos no pagan las cuentas” (“Telling stories won’t pay the bills”). The micro-targeting includes different narrator accents for different battleground-state markets. To wit: Cuban in Miami, Puerto Rican in Orlando and Mexican in Phoenix.

BTW, America, as we know, has been evolving–if not morphing–demographically. In 1970, Latinos made up 4.7 percent of the U.S. population. In 2030, it’s estimated that nearly one in four Americans will be Hispanic.

* “Black people vote when they’re proud or angry. They were proud in 2008 and angry in 2012.” That was the Rev. Al Sharpton in 2012. His rationale still applies–actually more so–in 2020.

* Biden and the DNC raised $141 million in June, topping the campaign haul of Trump for the second straight month. Trump and the RNC raised $131 million.

* “We won’t lose because of money–I’m absolutely sure. Four months ago, I was worried.”–Ed Rendell, former Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, who recently co-hosted a Biden fundraiser.

* One big reason for the fundraising surge is that Biden is running against Trump–not just a cluster of competing, fellow Democrats spanning the left-of-center spectrum.

* The Biden campaign still trails badly on social media platforms. Biden averages about a half dozen daily posts to about 2 million Facebook followers. Trump doubles the number of posts to about 28 million followers. On Twitter, Trump has more than 80 million followers; Biden has 6.4 million.

* “It shouldn’t be surprising that with a candidate in a self-destructive spiral of failure and the other operating without controversy and a huge reservoir of good will, the race does not even appear competitive at this point.”–Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post.

Media Matters

* In 2008, Barack Obama had 118,000 followers on Twitter on election day and 2.5 million likes on his Facebook. That was then; this is not.

* It’s no secret who Fox News is backing in the election. But if it doesn’t get a re-elected Trump, a major consolation prize can still be had. The network generally enjoys higher ratings–and revenues–when there’s a Democratic president, and Fox goes on the all-out, Oval Office offensive.

* Finally got around to watching the movie “Richard Jewell,” the man outrageously convicted in the court of public opinion for being the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bomber–who turned out to be anti-government activist Eric Rudolph. For a journalist, it was as infuriating as it was embarrassing.

Tampa Bay

* Not that anyone asked, but I would rather have seen the latest iteration of St. Petersburg’s Pier look less like another homage to modernism and much more like the Mediterranean Revival Million Dollar Pier that was demolished in 1967.

* Gay Culverhouse, 73, daughter of Bucs’ original owner Hugh Culverhouse, recently passed away. She was president of the franchise from 1990-94. But her legacy is more than having been one of the highest-ranking women in the NFL. She also founded the Gay Culverhouse Players’ Outreach Program–now known as Retired Players Assistance–that locates former players with dementia, provides them with medical assistance and helps them apply for a league program that provides financial aid for long-term dementia aid.

Sports Shorts

* Name game update: Looks like Washington and the “Redskins” will finally be parting. The key factor: not owner Daniel Snyder who, in the recent past, said: “We’ll never change that name.” No, it’s sponsors and investors. It’s hardly unalloyed idealism at work, but it enables the right thing to finally be done. So what will replace the indigenous pejorative “Redskins” name?” There’s ample precedent for D.C. sports franchises having Washington-centric names such as Senators, Capitals and Nationals. Hell, Washington Lobbyists would be an improvement.

* “Si se puede” (“Yes we can”): Among the NBA-approved messages that players can wear on the backs of their jerseys.

Quoteworthy

* “Our country is in great shape. … Our past is not a burden to be cast away.”–President Donald Trump, during the July 4th “Salute to America”

* “At a certain point, (Mark) Esper has to decide when enough of Trump’s degradation  of the office of secretary of defense and the institution itself is enough.”–John Gans, a Pentagon speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter.

* “Our generation and the ones before us haven’t done enough to right the wrongs of the past.”–Prince Harry, in praising young, anti-racism activists.

* “For a man who had grown up in black society in the West Indies, a multi-racial New York or a multiracial America was not unimaginable.”–George Washington University Historian James Oliver Horton, referencing Alexander Hamilton.

* “Slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction and segregation are never purely historical. They still haunt the air we breathe, or cannot breathe.”–Yale Historian David W. Blight.

* “When black people become police officers, they are no longer black. They are blue. And I have been told this by numerous officers.”–Hank Newsome, chairman of the Greater New York chapter of Black Lives Matter.

* “We should never honor public figures who, by the standards of their own time as well as ours, abused a public trust. Case in point: The more we learn about J. Edgar Hoover, the more outrageous it is that the FBI building in Washington is still named for him.”–Bret Stephens, New York Times.

* “A state need not subsidize private education. But once a state decides to do so, it cannot disqualify some private schools solely because they are religious.”–Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the (5-4) majority in a U.S. Supreme Court decision that states that provide school-choice vouchers to private schools must also make them available to religious schools.

* “I shudder at the prospect of teaching in a room filled with asymptomatic superspreaders; 1,000 of my colleagues feel the same.”–Paul M. Kellermann, 62, an English professor at Penn State University.

* “I want the people of Florida to know we’re in a much better place thanks to the leadership of President Trump, the innovation of American industry and to the partnership that we’ve forged, not just in testing, but in personal protective equipment.”–Vice President Mike Pence in Tampa to meet with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

* “By and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity. I’m more concerned about people crowding into A/C and having private parties.”–Gov. Ron DeSantis.

* “There’s no doubt that when we reopened, people started socializing as if the virus didn’t exist. It’s extremely worrisome.”–Miami (Republican) Mayor Francis Suarez.

* “Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. DeSantis have a lot in common–most notably that both failed to effectively address the COVID-19 pandemic seriously or with urgency.”–Joe Biden.

* “While local communities and states and businesses take climate action, what’s been missing is the federal government.”–U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

* “I support law enforcement, and that means realigning their mandate and stop being asked to respond to the social service needs which our elected officials have ignored for far too long.”–Alma Gonzalez,  Democratic National Committee member from Tampa.

* “Reallocating funds from the police departments that soak up so much of city budgets is absolutely necessary.”–Ben Burgis, Jacobin.

* “I think … we are looking for things we can do for our mental health and physical well being, so the zoo certainly is one of the better options”–Joe Couceiro, president of ZooTampa at Lowry Park, which recently reopened at 50 percent capacity.

Tulsa Rally and More

 “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

* “Mar-a-Lago-Elba”: A sign we should anticipate seeing.

* Trump’s “silent majority.” Neither silent, alas, nor a majority, yes.

* “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous. … Nobody had ever heard of it.” Whatever. African-Americans in Tulsa surely appreciated the heads up. Surely.

* “When you do testing to that extent … you’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘slow the testing down, please.‘” According to the White House, that was a Trump joke. According to what we’ve seen the past three and a half years, it’s a nightmare–not a joke.

* “A disgruntled, boring fool. … What a dope!” That was President Nuance, referring to John Bolton. Imagine, hiring someone like that for national security adviser? What a dope!

* “The city is burning, and Trump is Nero.”–Timothy Naftali, New York University history professor and former director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.

* According to the Bolton book, “The Room Where It Happened,” Trump once asked Chief-of-Staff John Kelly if Finland is part of Russia. But in fairness, it’s pretty close.

* “He didn’t hire very well.” That was former chief-of-staff Mark Mulvaney, who would know.

* We know why Trump wanted his Tulsa rally, public-health-jeopardizing circumstances notwithstanding. He’s fueled by fealty, and Trump rallies put him center stage for a national show. And timing is everything. He’s not been on a roll: the battered economy, racial unrest, the military pushback, defeats in the Supreme Court (over DACA and LGBTQ issues), unfavorable polls that favor Biden and, oh yeah, the Bolton book. In the words of John Dean, former Nixon White House counsel, “Trump is becoming what he hates most, which is being a loser.”

* Waiver reality: “By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to Trump bombast and exposure to COVID-19.”

* Trump’s Attorney General William Barr: This is what it took to miss Nixon’s AG, John Mitchell.

* Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is president of the Florida Sheriffs Association and serves on the board of the Major County Sheriffs of America. As such, it was appropriate that he be part of a White House ceremony featuring the president signing an executive order encouraging reform, however modest, in police policies. But the Rose Garden/Trump-prop optics were awful.

Presidential Daze Numbered?

 “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

* Bountygate: A disturbing report by U.S. Intelligence–that Russia offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill American and allied troops in Afghanistan–has surfaced prominently into the news cycle. Since 2019, 29 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan. After seeming indifference and then a knee-jerk “fake news” labeling, the prevaricator-in chief then said that “Nobody briefed or told me.” Whatever.

The takeaways are givens. Trump is a proven pathological liar. He doesn’t read briefing books. The level of professional disrespect can understandably–but unconscionably–result in bypassing the president of the United States on a really important matter. The sleazy leverage of Vladimir Putin remains in play.

* “Millions of mail-in ballots will be printed by foreign countries (to affect the November election).” That’s especially troubling rhetoric from the trouble-maker-in-chief that  rationalizes a humiliating November loss–but worse, it poses the possibility of a problematic departure from the White House.

* The Rolling Stones have threatened legal action against President Donald Trump for using their songs at his rallies despite a cease-and-desist directive. A compromise is rumored in the works that would limit Trump-rally use of Stones’ songs to “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.”

* “Kung Flu.” How President Hu Phlung Poo refers to COVID-19.

* Trump recently (June 14) turned 74. “He doesn’t look a day over embalmed.”–Bill Maher.

COVID Bits

#AloneTogether

* “We have consistently underrated this virus.”–Dr. Ashish Jha, director of Harvard’s Global Health Institute.

* Among the countries whose (non-essential) citizens are not currently allowed into European Union countries: Brazil, Russia and America. Not the sort of company America wants to keep. But it’s what happens when–with more than 2.3 million cases–the U.S. becomes the coronavirus epicenter. The U.S. with 4 percent of the world’s population, has about 25 percent of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. Ironically not affected by the EU ban: China.

* The U.S. is set to open (COVID vaccine) trials this month–with 30,000 people testing a government-created shot. In August, it’s expected that the U.S. will follow up with another 30,000 expected to test a British version.

* According to the IMF, the global economy will shrink 4.9 percent this year.

* Bars, millennial imbibers and a pandemic: What could have gone wrong?

* Clemson has reported that 37 football players have tested positive since the school reopened facilities for workouts in June.

* Florida’s sales tax revenue fell 31.7 percent below projections in May.

* “The science is clear. Asymptomatic infected individuals can release infectious aerosol particles while breathing and speaking. Not wearing a mask or face covering increases exposure.”–Dr. Ronald F. Giffler, president of the Florida Medical Association.

* Nearly 2.1 million Floridians have filed unemployment claims since the start of the pandemic.

* The numbers show Floridians aged 18-44 primarily responsible for the state’s spike in cases.