Flori-duh And Freedumb

Timing, as always, is everything. Just as we have a deadly COVID surge and GOPsters equating vaccine passports and mandatory mask-wearing (especially among vulnerable students) with diminished freedoms, we have a governor whose top priority is fundraising and political ambition. “Flori-duh” under the fine-threatening Ron DeSantis is in a doubling-down spiral. To misparaphrase Patrick Henry, Give me disingenuously-defined “liberty” and give me self-inflicted “death.”

Most recent Exhibit A: Gov. DeSantis speaking to a Pasco-red, Saddlebrook Resort crowd at the annual Reagan Day fundraiser in Wesley Chapel. “Vaccine,” the life-saver that isn’t saving as many Florida lives as it should and could, never came up. But crowd-pleasing, red-meat cheap shots about “woke” universities, “regime-controlled media” and President Joe Biden sure as hell did. “If Joe Biden is trying to destroy the livelihoods of our people, I will fight back,” exhorted DeSantis. “We’ve got a lot going wrong in our country … but we’ve got a lot going right in the state of Florida.” Actually, we’ve got a lot going wrong and right wing in the state of Florida.

Dem Notes

  • “We can’t turn it back very much, but we can prevent it from getting worse. We don’t have any more time.”—President Joe Biden, on the impact of climate change. But it could be worse. We could still have Trump as a science-defying president, Rick Perry as the clueless Energy Secretary and (Administrator) Andrew Wheeler and his pro-fossil industry-lobbyist rat pack undermining the critical role of the EPA.
  • President Biden, of course, is urging the Taliban to cut ties with terrorist groups. How problematic will that be? Not an encouraging sign when the acting interior minister (Sirajuddin Haqqani) is on the FBI’s most wanted list for terrorism. It’s also hoped that the new Afghan government will be at least nominally inclusive. So far, it has, in effect, Tali-banned women from its cabinet.
  • “Strategic Pause.” That’s what Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, the West Virginia moderate, called for regarding President Biden’s main economic agenda and rebuilding plan because of soaring national debt.
  • “If I weren’t so preoccupied with the reconciliation package and having to deal with members of Congress, etc., etc., I would probably take the Budget Committee on the road all over the country.”—That was Sen. Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, who has been finding some time to visit GOP-leaning districts in the Midwest to promote the Democrats’ emerging $3.5 trillion budget bill. No, he’s not accompanied by either Joe Manchin or Kyrsten Sinema.
  • “(President Biden) must urge progressives to support the infrastructure bill and to accept what they can get through reconciliation, which will be much less than they want. The alternative would be the collapse of the president’s domestic agenda and certain disaster in the midterms.”—William A. Galston, Wall Street Journal.


  • For the first seven months of 2021, remittances sent to the Mexican homeland by U.S. immigrants have soared to $28 billion—up about 24 percent from the same period last year. The driver is family ties during a prolonged pandemic.
  • New infections have fallen sharply in nearly every nation in South America as vaccination rates have ramped up.
  • Three quarters of U.S. adults have received at least one vaccine dose.
  • Those who were not fully vaccinated this spring and summer were 11 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who were fully vaccinated.
  • The chances of the average vaccinated American contracting COVID are about one in 5,000 per day, and lower for those who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community.
  • “The key to more jobs is more jabs.”—Catherine Rampell, WaPo.
  • The TSA has received more than 4,000 reports of mask-related incidents in airports, on trains and other transportation settings.
  • Nearly 50,000 people have died from the virus since it first hit Florida in March 2020.
  • So far, about 230,000 Floridians have gotten a booster shot.
  • As of last week, about 57 percent of eligible Florida residents have been fully vaccinated.
  • Starting Sept. 18, The Straz Center for the Performing Arts will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination.


  • Tally Ho’s: For the 2022 legislation session in Tallahassee, there’s a proposal to make school board elections partisan. Just what nobody needs: Even more partisan politics. Florida’s Constitution currently says county school board members must be elected in nonpartisan races. If the proposal (HJR 35) is approved, it would be on the ballot next November. Yet more Tally meddling in local government. It’s more than the counterproductive countermanding of school district mask mandates that protect students.

Also, partisan school board elections—even though everybody knows who’s a D and who’s an R—would disenfranchise some voters because of Florida’s closed primary system. The NPAs would be shut out of primaries. School board races should remain as non-partisan as possible. No surprise that that’s not a Tallahassee priority.

Tampa Bay

  • For the ages: The New York Mets Pete Alonso, a Plant High product, hit his 100th career home run in his 347th game—the second fastest in Major League history. And the Rays’ Nelson Cruz, 41, became the oldest to reach the 30-homer mark.
  • If the Rays wind up in Tampa, the region’s business hub, a likely key component will be rail transit. Orlando would become more than a TV market, and hellish issues with traffic could be mitigated. Ask the Minnesota Twins, who were able to build Target Field in the space-challenged historic warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis, which was critically complemented by the most accessible public transportation in all of Major League Baseball.
  • We all know about higher education trends and issues over racial and ethnic studies. It comes with America’s demographic mosaic. But since 2013, USF has had an Irish Studies program, and offers multiples classes—devoted to the language, literature and history of Ireland–each semester. It even has an official Irish Culture and Language Club and maintains close ties with the Consulate General of Ireland. BTW, one in 10 Americans trace their ancestry back to Ireland. So, maybe it’s about time. Or just in the Mick of time.

Media Matters

  • According to a (2019) study by Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of more than seven hours a day on social media for entertainment.
  • “It is now law that conservative viewpoints in Texas cannot be banned on social media.”—Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, after signing a bill prohibiting large tech companies from blocking or restricting people or their posts based on their viewpoint. Now we stay tuned for the legal battle with the tech industry.
  • The rapper Drake is the first recording artist to hit 50 billion streams on Spotify. Now you know.


  • Why do we say “heads up” when we mean “duck?”
  • Church humor. “What Happens In Vegas Is Forgiven Here.” “Jesus Is Coming. Look Busy.” “Lent Is Coming. Get Your Ash In Church.” “We Are Still Open Between Christmas And Easter.”
  • Ever find yourself waving to somebody while walking your dog—but using the hand holding the poop bag?
  • Actual inventive appellations. Auto repair: “Wreck Amended.” Grocery store: “Cheeses of Nazareth.” Landscape: “The Sod Father.” Made-up names. Greek taverna: “Squid Pro Quo.” French food shop. “This Tastes Like Crepe.”
  • You can go to the Y and swim, but you can’t go to the A&P.

Sports Shorts

  • Back in 1963 the NFL suspended Paul Hornung and Alex Karras, two of the league’s premier, highest-profile players, for betting on games and associating with known gamblers. In 1976, former Commissioner Pete Rozelle said that “Legalized gambling on sporting events is destructive of the sports themselves and in the long run injurious to the public.” Here’s Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 2012 take on the biggest threats to the game’s integrity: “Gambling would be No. 1 on my list.” That was then. This is not.

In April, the NFL announced its first sportsbook partnerships—multi-year agreements with Caesars Entertainment, Draft Kings and Fan Duel as the league’s “official betting partners.” Then more recently the NFL announced that FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet and Wynn-BET became approved sportsbook operators for the 2021 season. Call it the new normal, pragmatic business decisions or a blatantly hypocritical sell out.

Trumpster Diving

  • “If only we had Robert E. Lee to command our troops in Afghanistan, that disaster would have ended in a complete and total victory many years ago.” That was Donald Trump, as only he can frame it.
  • “Save America”: Trump’s fund-raising committee, in case he runs again or just needs money to underwrite king-maker rallies and partisan ads.
  • Lest we forget, America still has an endless war going on—the legal one, now aided and abetted by Texas vigilantes, against abortion.
  • “Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First.”—From a Trump statement, which also referenced Cheney as a “warmonger and disloyal Republican,” endorsing Wyoming’s Harriet Hageman to unseat GOP Rep. Cheney.
  • (House Minority Leader) Kevin McCarthy wants to show his chest hair and spitting skills in a party where toxic masculinity has become the dominant political philosophy.”—Michael Gerson, former chief speech writer for President George W. Bush.


  • “On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another. That is the America I know. … (But) so much of our politics has become a naked appeal to anger, fear and resentment.”—Former President George W. Bush, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
  • “As botched as the withdrawal from Afghanistan was, at least Joe Biden was trying to move into the future and do triage on one of America’s worst mistakes. … Biden knew enough not to spend more lives and treasure to prop up a kleptocracy. He oversaw some bad weeks in Afghanistan, but George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should be blamed for 20 bad years.”—Maureen Dowd, New York Times.
  • “(China and Russia) are making the argument in public and in private that the United States is in decline—so it’s better to cast your lot with their authoritarian visions for the world than with our democratic one.”—Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
  • “The Department of Justice has the duty to defend the Constitution of the United States and uphold the law. Today we defend that duty.”—Attorney General Merrick Garland, in announcing that the Justice Department will challenge the Texas abortion law that bans the procedure after six weeks.
  • “Today is a historic day for the rights of all Mexican women. It is a watershed in the history of the rights of all women, especially the most vulnerable.”—Arturo Zaldivar, Chief Justice of Mexico’s Supreme Court, on the court’s ruling to decriminalize abortion.
  • “Solar, our cheapest and fastest-growing source of clean energy, could produce enough electricity to power all of the homes in the U.S. by 2035 and employ as many as 1.5 million people in the process.”—Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.
  • “(Texas’) leaders just made it easier to carry a gun and harder to end an unwanted pregnancy in the same week.”—Margaret Renkl, author of “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss.”
  • “Crypto is the new shadow bank. It provides many of the same services, but without the consumer protections or financial stability that back up the traditional system.”—Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
  • “I think it wiser … not to keep open the sores of war.”—Gen. Robert E. Lee, on plans for Gettysburg memorials.
  • “Dirty air is the world’s biggest environmental killer, responsible for at least four million early deaths a year. … Air pollution kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined, but such health issues receive vastly more funding.”—Damian Carrington, Mother Jones.
  • “This is a critical time. The magnitude of the inequality in America today is much larger than it’s been in years.”—Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.
  • “We are not in the same position as some of the school boards.”—FSU President Richard McCullough, on how Florida’s public universities are finding that the state has legally tied their hands from defying mask mandates.
  • “By not being vocally and strongly pro-vaccine and pro mask, Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio are leading to this vacuum where people are getting their information from absolutely ridiculous sources. And that’s what’s bound to happen when our leaders aren’t stepping up.”—Palm Beach Internist Dr. Dawn Sterling.
  • “If the Tampa Bay Rays and the community decide that Ybor is the best home for baseball in Tampa Bay, we will work to bring their vision of an urban stadium to life in a way that complements the history and character of Ybor and the surrounding neighborhood”—Graham Tyrell, Darryl Shaw’s lead development partner on Gas Worx.
  • “The TMA Board is very excited about what the museum will finally be able to bring to the public.”—Tampa Museum of Art Executive Director Michael Tomor, on TMA renovations that will add 14,000 square feet of gallery space.
  • “I support their expansion plan. How that’s paid for and over what period of time? I think that could be up for debate.”—Mayor Jane Castor, on the Straz Center’s request for $25 million in city money to help fund the art center’s expansion plans.