Impeachment Reality

The official determination of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial was “acquittal.” That may go down as one of the more unconscionable euphemisms ever. “Betrayal” is more accurate when democracy has been attacked and undermined without the ultimate consequence. With seven exceptions, spineless Senate Republicans made sure Trump wasn’t convicted for fomenting an insurrection that took five lives, injured and traumatized hundreds and irreparably damaged America’s global reputation. These Vichy Republicans claimed a post-presidency, constitutional rationale that most legal scholars have dismissed. They parsed wording and cited First Amendment license over “fight,” as if Trump did no more than engage in a rhetorical flourish on Jan. 6. And, yes, you cannot have a meaningful “trial” if “jurors” are career-first, Trump enablers.

But it was still worth it. An inflection point for democracy required no less. Accountability and precedent matter. A signal was sent that even if you trash America’s ideals on the way out—with election-fraud lies and insurrection incitement—you can at least be impeached. The non-Trumpster majority noticed—as will history. Speaking of, the beleaguered legacies of James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson got a boost with the fitting end of the administration of the worst president in U.S. history.

And for those of us who can’t wait for history’s indictment, we can be assured that legal scenarios are still in the here-and-now mix. The state of Georgia and the Southern District of New York are waiting in the criminal wings.

Dem Notes

* The U.S. is on pace to exceed President Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in the first 100 days. More than 26 million shots have been delivered in his first three weeks.

* He may not be the next Barack Obama, but keep a political eye on Democratic Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, one of the House’s impeachment managers. Articulate and charismatic, this 36-year-old African-American son of Eritrean immigrants bears watching. In 2020 he was named the most bipartisan member of the Colorado congressional delegation by the Lugar Center for Public Health Research. Look for him to find a place at the speaker’s podium at the 2024 Democratic Convention.

* “The president has given us clear instructions. Our goal is to get (Vice President Kamala Harris) out there as much as we can.”–Ron Klain, President Biden’s chief of staff.

* Pete Buttigieg is secretary of transportation, but that’s like saying Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. Secretary Buttigieg has been making the media rounds to expound on his agenda that is about much more than traveling and transporting. In short, he plans to address climate change, racial justice and job creation via infrastructure overhaul.



* Public health consensus: The B.1.17 (UK) variant is almost certain to become the predominant U.S. strain of the COVID virus within about a month. Florida is now considered ground zero in the U.S for the variant. The good news so far is that the “UK variant” seems unlikely to affect the potency of vaccines.

* According to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, approximately one in three Americans say they definitely or probably won’t get vaccinated. Maybe they haven’t herd of immunity yet. Science can only do so much.

* “We know that most clusters in the school setting have occurred when there are breaches in mask wearing.”–CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

* More than 8 million Floridians live in ZIP codes without any retail pharmacy that offers the vaccine.

* Since the pandemic began, the city of Tampa has distributed 500,000 masks. Seemingly, very few have made their way to SoHo or Ybor City.

Trumpster Diving

* Imagine having a president who was a jeer-leader for democracy. But the Pillage People love it.

* Once having stoked a deadly insurrection, Trump did nothing to try and stop it. And he was the only one who could have. Not unlike the Rev. Jim Jones being the only one who could have effectively said: “Don’t touch that Kool-Aid.” Kevin McCarthy would now agree.

* Congressional comity? How the hell do those who ran for their lives and feared being held hostage because of what Trump had incited now get along with those who voted to acquit? There’s ideology and politics–and then there’s right or wrong, country or careerand life or death.

* Quote the craven ever more: “President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of (Jan. 6). No question about it. … The leader of the free world cannot spend weeks thundering that shadowy forces are stealing our country and then feign surprise when people believe him and do reckless things. … A disgraceful dereliction of duty.” That was Senate Minority Misleader Mitch McConnell, who could have been a difference-maker, but voted to acquit—no question about it. A McConnell vote to convict was as likely as a Trump apology to the country and the family of the slain police officer.

* Hardly surprising that Louisiana GOPsters voted to censure Sen. Bill Cassidy—for following the evidence and his conscience in voting to convict Trump. Other country-first Republican senators facing similar censure: North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey.

* Party on: Lindsey Graham is still, alas, Lindsey Graham. “I said, ‘Mr. President, this MAGA movement needs to continue. We need to unite the party. Trump-plus is the way back in 2022.” That was Graham on Fox News Sunday.

* “(They) haven’t tied it in any way to Trump.” That was Trump impeachment attorney David Schoen on the traumatic video footage of the Capitol invasion. He really said that.

* “In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and eternity.”–Abraham Lincoln. Too bad the “Party of Lincoln” has whored out for Lincoln’s antithesis. Words matter, especially for the president of the United States. Little did we know that it would get a lot worse than what “Access Hollywood” revealed.

* For what it’s worth, Betfair, the British bookmaker, lists odds of Donald Trump being on the 2024 GOP ticket at 4-1. Next is Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the U.N., at 11-2. Then it’s Mike Pence, 6-1; Donald Trump Jr., 10-1; and Ivanka Trump 10-1.

* As for Haley, she has already announced a new political action committee, “Stand for America,” which aims to make GOP gains in 2022. She also commented carefully on former President Trump. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that happen again.” Too bad she didn’t flat-out say: “He deserved impeachment—and he should have been convicted. If fomenting a deadly, traumatic—and well-documented—insurrection against American democracy isn’t cause for conviction, then, seemingly, nothing is. That’s more than a blight on America, that looks like the beginning of the end. It all must end. We don’t want any more insurrectionist punks ‘standing by.’”

Haley calculated her chances against Joe Biden or Kamala Harris by stopping well short of supporting impeachment. She still has some wiggle room. More like: “Donald Trump did some good, even great, stuff but stuff happens, and now we move on. BTW, Donny Junior and Ivanka, I’m still looking for base-appealing help on the 2024 ticket.”

* According to an American Enterprise Institute survey, 55 percent of Republicans said they agreed that “The traditional American way of life is disappearing so fast that we may have to use force to save it.” And nearly two-thirds believed the 2020 election was marked by “widespread fraud.” Would that such opinions were a shock.

* Michael Flynn is leveraging his public persona to raise money to pay off his legal debts. That includes camo trucker hats with the emblem “WWG1WGA.” For the uninitiated, that refers to a popular QAnon motto: “Where we go one, we go all.”


* As we know, most Republican senators weren’t moved enough by those scary Capitol videos to actually vote for impeachment conviction. Among them: Rick Scott, who looked down and fiddled with some maps, and Marco Rubio, who found various ways to divert his attention. No surprise, of course: They’ve both managed to look away from Trump reality.

* Any attempt to restrict or lock down Florida by the federal government would be an attack on our state done purely for political purposes.” That was Gov. Ron DeSantis, sounding like someone who has lost his Washington cult leader.

* Unless there’s a change, the state will be administering annual tests in math and English again this spring. Just like the old days: high-stakes tests in person, inside schools. But these are not yet the old days. It’s not risk–or anxiety–free, especially for students who have been “attending” classes from home since the pandemic started. No wonder the testing opt-out movement is growing. The bottom line: The pandemic will not be over by spring. Here’s hoping the state reconsiders and re-evaluates this test of educational and public-health common sense.

Media Matters

* It wasn’t helpful when both President Joe Biden and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki were baited with media questions about the president’s take on the ongoing impeachment trial. It didn’t help the case or the cause as Biden was trying his best to stay above the fray and not unnecessarily alienate Republicans he needs in trying to make Washington work again during a pandemic.

* Post-Super Bowl stories and updates about those responsible for the streaking RayJay prankster is exactly what these people want. At least the CBS cameras turned away.

Sports Shorts

* The NBA has reiterated its “longstanding league policy” to include the national anthem in pre-game activities. The reiteration was prompted by the Dallas Mavericks’ omission of the anthem in their first 11 home games.

* “(Bruce Arians) is such a unique guy, and we have such a unique, strong bond. We get along well. We even argue well.”–Bucs General Manager Jason Licht.

* For USF women’s basketball, this will be a season recalled for its pandemic impact that caused a month-long, mid-season layoff. But it will also be the season where the 12th-ranked Bulls had the longest winning streak—now at 11—in school history.

* He’s back. Tampa’s Tony LaRusa is now the manager of the Chicago White Sox. However this turns out, it won’t affect his Hall of Fame credentials. He’s already been inducted.

* “I would like a chance to redeem myself.”–Dr. Anthony Fauci, on hoping that he gets another ceremonial first pitch opportunity after last season’s errant toss at Washington Nationals Park on opening day.


* “Re-engaging the WHO also means holding it to the highest standards.”–National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

* “Pretty damning.”–How Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski characterized the insurrection videos.

* “He has been discredited in the eyes of the American people and in the judgment of history.”–Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

* “This trial is about who we are.”–Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md.

* “Republicans who could … vote to acquit the ring leader in chief have lost the moral standing to govern.”–Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post.

* “The era of Trump has been the era of Republican unmasking.”–Frank Bruni, New York Times.

* “This is about the most miserable experience I’ve had down here in Washington, D.C.”–Philadelphia-based Trump impeachment lawyer Michael T. van der Veen.

* “The party that so opportunistically embraced Trump and Trumpism back in 2016 is now about to be hoist with its own petard. Damned if they do, and damned if they don’t, the GOP senators are about to face a grand, and very public, reckoning over their Faustian bargain.”–Sasha Abramsky, The Nation.

* “Trump not caring about the fate of his vice president was the inevitable sick end of the pairing of the Sociopath and the Sycophant.”–Maureen Dowd, New York Times.

* “(First Ladies) have an enormous impact on the soul and conscience of the nation. Because they often can rise above politics in the heat of the moment and just connect on a very human level.”–Anita McBride, former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush.

* “Marco Rubio is a bright star in our party. … and he was exceptionally loyal to Trump. It would make no sense for anyone to challenge him. … I haven’t spoken to Ivanka Trump, but I don’t believe she will run.”–Florida lobbyist and Trump supporter Brian Ballard.

* “It’s like the appendix of the Legislative process. You’ll be just fine without it, and nobody really knows what it does.”—Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, who filed a bill that would dismantle the Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority.

* “Everybody kind of knows what the rules are, and I think the Mayor really did as much as she could to encourage people (celebrating the Super Bowl) to do the right thing. But they didn’t.”–Dr. Jay Wolfson, USF professor of public health.

Super Bowl Context

By all accounts, Tampa put on a first-class Super Bowl during challenging times. The National Football League is, once again, impressed and appreciative. That’s because visitor-friendly Tampa–for the fifth time–came through. From logistics, optics, overall coordination and pre-event planning to COVID protocols and February weather. When we look good, they look good.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has spoken of Tampa Bay’s “can do attitude” and praised “how they get things done.” He also underscored “how extraordinary Tampa has been working through” pandemically-unique circumstances. Then he pivoted to a bottom line of considerable local interest. “I think (successfully planning for a pandemic-impacting event) will be a big consideration in (owners’) minds when they do sit down and vote (on upcoming Super Bowl sites).”

Recall that Tampa, which last hosted in 2009, was not the original scheduled host for 2021. It was Los Angeles. But its new stadium fell behind construction deadlines, and Tampa—with that “can do attitude”–was asked to step in. Next year LA gets SB LVI. Then it’s Glendale, Arizona in 2023. New Orleans was pushed back to 2025 to accommodate Mardi Gras. That means 2024 is TBD. Well, why not determine that it will be Tampa Bay again? We bailed out LA—but obviously couldn’t cash in like the old SB days. We hosted an event that would likely be, to quote USF public health professor Dr. Jay Wolfson, a “petri dish for community spread.” Tampa Bay took one for the team. Now the team needs to respond in kind.

Dem Notes

* “America is back. Diplomacy is back. … We’re going to rebuild our alliances.” That was a multi-tasking President Joe Biden sending a morale-boosting message of reassurance to State Department staff and allies—as well as a reset signal to Russian Trump-handler Vladimir Putin.

* Biden’s biggest challenge: Keeping his word to Americans in need and keeping his pledge to restore bipartisanship in Washington. This isn’t Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill. Let’s not forget Mitch McConnell’s foremost priority—as stated within nanoseconds of Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2008. It was to ensure that Obama was a “one-term president.” He’s still there as the Minority Misleader of a 50-50 Senate. He’s proven that “country first” is still a non-starter.

* “No.” That was President Biden’s answer when asked (by CBS’s Norah O’Donnell) if the U.S. would drop sanctions on Iran as a first step toward reviving negotiations. In short, if the Iranians don’t stop enriching uranium, the sanctions stay.