- Scheduling conflicts have precluded the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots from being welcomed to the White House for a customary ceremonial visit. The irony has been well noted—given that owner Robert K. Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and All-Pro QB Tom Brady are hardly the NFL’s version of Megan Rapinoe. But what doesn’t get enough attention—especially in the problematic era of the Trump presidency—is why there are White House congratulatory ceremonies for professional athletes in the first place. A presidential welcome should only be extended to athletes who have represented their country—from World Cups to Olympiads—not their franchise employers.
- Congrats to Tampa Bay Tech grad Michael Penix Jr, who turned in an impressive debut as Indiana University quarterback. The redshirt freshman threw for more than 300 yards and a TD in IU’s’s 34-24 win over Ball State.
- The Tampa Bay Rowdies of the second-tier USL still envision being part of MLS, but it still remains beyond reach. And it had to be a bit disheartening, but hardly unexpected, to see MLS continue to expand—but not yet to this market. For the record, MLS added Cincinnati this year as its 24th franchise. Next year will bring Nashville and Miami. Austin is targeted for 2021 and St. Louis in 2022. Moreover, the St. Louis franchise will be the first female-majority-owned team in MLS history. Ultimately, MLS plans to expand to 30 franchises. That window is nearly closed.
- Wisconsin 49, USF 0. Nothing more to be said.
- “This is probably the most sad and worst day of my life to address the Bahamian people. As a physician, I’ve been trained to withstand many things, but never anything like this.”—Bahamian Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, on the devastating impact of Hurricane Dorian on the Bahamas.
- “Boris (Johnson) is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for and will prove to be ‘a great one!’ Love U.K.”—President Donald Trump.
- “Under no circumstances should the G7 be held at Trump’s Doral resort, which would be one of the most egregious examples of corruption and self-dealing in a presidency replete with them.”—Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.
- “All Americans need to recognize that our democracy is an experiment—and one that can be reversed. We all know that we’re better than our current politics. Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment.”—Former Defense Secretary James Mattis.
- “(Trump’s) like the last seasons of ‘House of Cards’—a riveting spectacle devolved into a repellent burlesque.”—Frank Bruni, New York Times.
- “(It) highlights the Trump Administration’s complete contempt for our climate.”—Kassie Siegel of the Center for Biological Diversity, in response to government plans to ease requirements on oil and gas sites to monitor for methane leaks and plug them.
- “We get the wrong kind of infrastructure. Projects that will be most attractive to Wall Street investors are those whose tolls and fees bring in the biggest bucks—giant mega-projects like major new throughways and new bridges. Not the thousands of smaller bridges, airports, pipes, and water treatment facilities most in need of repair.”—Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich.
- “Protectionism is bad; erratic protectionism, imposed by an unstable leader with an insecure ego, is worse. But that’s what we have as long as Trump remains in office.”—Paul Krugman, New York Times.
- “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”—Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
- “If you ask any restaurant now what’s keeping them up at night, it’s this. We do have a lot more diverse work force than most industries, and unfortunately many of them may be undocumented.”—New York employment lawyer Carolyn Richmond, on the specter of increased immigration enforcement.
- “Higher tariffs are going to cause consumers to pull back for a time, especially on big-ticket items like cars and appliances.”—Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial.
- “Our goal should be to tax the Scrooges so that the Tiny Tims can enjoy Medicare for All.”—Jeet Heer, the Nation.
- “False, misleading and dangerous marketing campaigns” that had “caused exponentially increasing rates of addition and overdose deaths.”—Oklahoma District Judge Thad Balkman, in finding that Johnson & Johnson had intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids and ordering it to pay the state $572 million. It was the first trial of a drug manufacturer for the destruction wrought by prescription painkillers. There are more than 2,000 opioid lawsuits pending across the country.
- “This isn’t your mother’s marijuana.”—U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, in warning about marijuana use by adolescents and pregnant women.
- “One of the most common storm-related scams we see is price gouging.”—Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.
- “We’re ready.”—Michael Peltier, spokesman for Citizens Property Insurance Co., the state-run insurance of last resort.
- “At shelters, FEMA does not check citizen status.”—FEMA spokeswoman Alexandria Bruner.
- “As the 2020 election approaches, stand up for teachers and public schools. Support only candidates who promise to stop the assault and micromanaging and become fighters for fully funding our public schools and paying our teachers a salary commensurate with their profession.”—Paula Dockery, former state Republican—now NPA—legislator.
- “It’s just the right thing to do. … We are a city that recognizes and values the dignity of work. Hard work and diversity built this city, and we’re going to make sure that people are rewarded for it.”—Mayor Jane Castor, in announcing that starting Oct. 1, all new and existing city of Tampa employees will receive a minimum of $15 per hour.
- “This is not NASCAR out there on the Howard Frankland Bridge.”—Sgt. Steve Gaskins, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman, after a recent tailgating-and-passing incident resulted in a driver fatality.
- “Anything brick and mortar, his fingerprints are on it.”—Former Mayor Bob Buckhorn, referring to Bob McDonaugh, who recently retired as Tampa’s top economic development official.
- President Donald Trump took umbrage, as only he can, with comments made by Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark. Frederiksen didn’t take Trump’s seemingly off-the-cuff comment about buying the island of Greenland seriously. “I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was an absurd idea, was nasty,” responded Trump in vintage Trumpian fashion before adding that he was abruptly canceling a planned Sept. 2-3 state visit to Denmark, a trip that was to include a formal reception by Queen Margrethe II. “You don’t,” chastised Trump, “talk to the United States that way!”
Actually, you do talk to the U.S., via Trump, in that way these days. It’s part of the everyday, new-normal collateral damage resulting from the image-altering American election of 2016—and Trump’s overseas MAGA arrogance. And this just in from Denmark’s Parliamentary Speaker, Pernille Skipper: “(Trump) lives on another planet. Smug and disrespectful.”
BTW, welcoming billboards were already in place for Trump’s Denmark visit, ironically proclaiming: “Partner, Ally, Friend.” Explain that to the queen.
- Every now and then something unexpectedly candid slips out of Trumpspeak pathology. To wit: the president’s G-7 admission to reporters that, indeed, he has had “second thoughts” on ramping up the trade war that has sewn uncertainty and turbulence into global markets. But then we were reminded why Trump, whose disdain for the European Union remains a given, still has “spokespeople.” Stephanie Grisham, the most recent incarnation of Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, stepped up to, uh, clarify. The press had “greatly misinterpreted” Trump, she explained. Trump actually meant that “he regrets not raising the tariffs higher.” Nice spin, Stephanie. We can see why the White House daily briefings remain on hiatus.
- Presumably Trump had no second thoughts about cutting out early and passing on the G-7 working session on climate change, specifically helping the fire-ravaged Amazon and reducing carbon emissions. Probably not a comfortable venue–even for a “tough-guy” president–who pulled America out of the Paris climate accord and once claimed climate change was a hoax invented by the Chinese.
- It’s hardly coincidental that Trump’s largest single contributor to his 2016 campaign was the NRA, which anted up $30 million. And we’re reminded every time Trump backs off a post-mass shooting promise to push for, say, universal background checks. It’s those other kinds of checks that ultimately—and despicably–carry the politically-partisan day. And let’s not forget the 2017 forewarning when Trump spoke to the NRA’s annual convention. “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.” Of all times to keep his word.
- Trump’s gun-legislation focus, we now know, is not universal background checks—but the mental health of the gunmen. Obviously begged question: It has to be an either/or?
- In a global economy, it should go without saying that trade partners and allies are critically important and unilateral efforts to change the rules are never helpful. It’s hardly a coincidence, then, that Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, made a less-than-nuanced statement to that effect at the beginning of the G-7 summit in France. “Trade wars will lead to recessions,” underscored Tusk. “Trade wars among G-7 members will lead to an eroding of the already weakened trust among us.” We all know who Tusk’s one-man, primary-target audience was.
- “Britain’s Trump.”—That label is how Jeremy Corbyn, British opposition Labour Party leader, disparages his rival, Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
- Nobody expects to witness the Republican nomination of Joe Walsh for president in 2020. But the former Illinois congressman is officially in as a Trump primary challenger from the right. (The other announced candidate is the more moderate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.)
A couple of takeaways. Walsh, 57, is an outspoken, in-your-face-if-necessary Tea Partying radio show host in the Chicago market, who plays well in the media. He says he stopped supporting Trump when the president sided with Vladimir Putin over U.S. intelligence experts in that infamous Helsinki meeting. He won’t have a lot of resources, but he’ll get a lot of free media. He’ll max out on it, and a lot more people outside Illinois will know who Joe Walsh is. It’s a good, profile-enhancing career move for the conservative who lost to Tammy Duckworth in 2012. And in the process, he can call out Trump. “I’m running because he’s unfit,” says Walsh. “Somebody needs to step up.”
Democrats, of course, are hoping that a Walsh challenge from the right will weaken Trump, who still has a high approval rating among Republican voters, and could complicate matters for a campaign that doesn’t need intra-party distractions beyond Trump himself. There’s also a political rule of thumb that primary challenges can weaken incumbents in the general election. Analysts often point to Pat Buchanan’s 1992 challenge to President George H.W. Bush as a prime example. There’s also the logistics involved when there’s competition. It costs a campaign resources and drains energy. You go, Joe.
- Not that the Trump White House and cabinet need more turnover or related rumors, but there is speculation that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might be considering a run for the Senate in Kansas. The former Kansas congressman is being looked at in some quarters as the candidate to replace the retiring, 83-year-old incumbent, Pat Roberts. Red-state, Kansas Republicans are concerned after losing the governor’s office last year and are less than confident that Kris Kobach, a divisive right-winger, can carry the party for the GOP in 2020. Chances are, the rumors will continue until Pompeo gives a definitive answer or the filing deadline of June 1 has passed. For the record, this was Pompeo’s recent response to such senatorial speculation on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”: “I’m going to be the secretary of state as long as President Trump continues to want me to be his secretary of state.” In other words, stay tuned.
- David Koch, R.I.P. (Regulations in Perpetuity.)
- Trump’s favorite president is Andrew Jackson. But he would be well advised to reflect, to the degree possible, on the words of former President Harry Truman who once noted that “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”
- Just when we think we’ve seen it all with this president’s peptic rallies. What’s next? An Area 51 campaign stop? Aliens for Trump? Makes no less sense than “Women for Trump.”
- You go, RBG. I admire Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I just don’t want part of her legacy to be that she stayed too long and yielded her successor’s nomination to Donald Trump. He’s already, in part thanks to Mitch McConnell and the Federalist Society, had an outsized, right-wing impact on the Court. Hearing that Justice Ginsburg, 86, recently underwent radiation treatment for a malignant, pancreatic tumor was as sad as it was sobering. It was also a reminder that the best among us should go out on top, while they’re the ones making the call—not allowing circumstances, including partisan politics and ever-looming mortality—to dictate the next chapter. So, you stay, RBG–at least through Trump’s one-and-done presidential term.
- Trump’s next formal press conference will be his first in 900 days. If nothing else, you would think a narcissist who captivated enough of a base by being a reality TV performer would welcome such a spotlight. But perhaps even Trump knows that bombastically pandering to a base and inevitably demonizing the usual suspects isn’t the best rationale for a de facto global forum that is scrutinized by a lot more than the “Duck Dynasty” and “Deliverance” crowds.
- So, Sean Spicer will be competing on “Dancing with the Stars.” But it could be worse. It could be Sarah Huckleberry Sandbag cutting the rug.
- Closer to this fall’s Brexit vote, we will see increasingly linkage between the UK and the U.S. We’ll see Trump and Prime Minister Boris Johnson juxtaposed in a shared spotlight. Maybe even references to England’s Royal Family if Megan Markle or Prince Andrew is back in the news cycle. If so, then America’s Roil Family could add additional colorful context.
- Last week at the Tampa Convention Center, this city hosted one of the 14 “Women for Trump” rallies across the country. How embarrassing, how unfathomably stupid and how obvious that the Tampa rally would be the one that would feature two prominent Trump harlot-enablers, Kellyanne Conway and Pam Bondi. Florida is that important; the I-4 Corridor is that important; and Tampa, an I-4 anchor, is that important. So important, in fact, that Donald Trump actually called in to remind participants, notably important white women, that “We won with women. We’re doing great with women, despite the fake news.”
Indeed, Trump did inexplicably well with white women in 2016. But that demographic was more helpful to Democrats in 2018. That’s why the national rallies and the Conway-Bondi show in Tampa. But demographic politics notwithstanding, nothing should excuse—or even explain—a “Women for Trump” rally. It’s makes as much sense as “Jews & Gypsies for Hitler,” “Blacks for Jesse Helms” or “Migrants for Joe Arpaio.”
- Looks like the Cross-Bay Ferry will be back crossing the bay. It’s a welcome scenario, even if it’s not meaningful mass transit in a bay-and-channel-centric market. At the very least, it helps promote the downtowns of Tampa and St. Petersburg, and at the most it’s an ongoing reminder of a common-sense alternative to driving everywhere.
- No surprise that customer-service-oriented businesses, including around here, are open to the idea of training personnel to better serve LGBTQ customers. For example, look for more couples being addressed as “folks” and “friends”—as opposed to “ladies” and “gentlemen.” It’s sensitive and inclusive—and smart. The LGBTQ customer buying power is nearly $1 trillion.
But you know what still sounds weird? When you’re on that special, heterosexually-traditional, dinner date and your server (no longer a “waiter” or “waitress”) greets you with: “So, how’s it going, guys, what can I get ya?” A romantic reset.
- “Boris Johnson’s friendship with Trump and their joint admiration society is a liability for him with the Europeans. The closer he allies himself with Trump, the more difficulty he’ll have going forward with the Europeans, from trade to security.”—Julianne Smith, former U.S. deputy national security adviser.
- “We’re in favor of trade peace.”—British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
- “Greenland is not for sale. Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over. Let’s leave it there.”–Greenland Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.
- “Mr. Trump wants power over the world, not presence in it.”—Daniel Immerwahr, historian and author of “How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States.”
- “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”—President Donald Trump.
- “If Israel equals Trump, then there is a concern that opposition to Trump will transition, God forbid, into opposition to Israel. It is very dangerous.”—Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, who leads Ohev Sholom, an orthodox congregation in Washington.
- “It’s imperative that we loudly speak for ourselves because if we don’t, the loudest voices that claim to speak on behalf of Jews will be right-wing evangelical Christians.”—Sophie Ellman-Golan, former director of communications and digital outreach at the Women’s March organization.
- “On one level, I agree with President Trump that it would be nice to get to a new U.S.-Russia relationship. But he never seems to suggest that Russia has to make some changes to its policies to get to that point.”—Steven Pifer, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.
- “No, I don’t see a recession. … Let’s not be afraid of optimism.”—Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economic adviser.
- “The Democrats are trying to ‘will’ the economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 election.”—Donald Trump.
- “They know they aren’t the majority. They rely on establishing minority rule for power.”—New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on why the Republican Party is averse to abolishing the electoral college.
- “Presidents are almost always ill-served by true believers who do not know when to stop channeling the worst impulses of their bosses and when to start reassuring the American people that they have not elected an autocrat.”—John Nichols, author of “Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse.”
- “Despite what his enablers claim, Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative. He’s reckless on fiscal issues; he’s incompetent on the border; he’s clueless on trade; he misunderstands executive power; and he subverts the rule of law. It’s his poor record that makes him most worthy of a primary challenge.”—Joe Walsh, former Illinois Republican congressman and now an announced Trump re-election challenger.
- “I challenge my fellow Republicans to summon the nerve to speak out on the record against Trump. Defy the culture of fear he has created and go public with the concerns you readily express in private.”—Anthony Scaramucci, former Trump Administration communications director.
- “It has become increasingly clear that Trump’s belligerence about foreign trade isn’t a pose; it reflects real conviction. Protectionism seems to be up there with racism as part of the essential Trump. And the realization that he really is a Tariff Man is having a serious dampening effect on business spending, partly because nobody knows just how far he’ll go.”—Paul Krugman, New York Times.
- “No other political process in the modern world has so abandoned this critical vetting function of the political party in the nominating process.”—Elaine Kamarck of the Brookings Institute and the author of “Primary politics: Everything You Need to Know about How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates.”
- “President Trump is a strong 2A President and supports our Right to Keep and Bear Arms?”—NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre.
- “Nothing short of disarming America satisfies @democrats. Give them NOTHING.”—Willes K. Lee, second vice president of the NRA board.
- “(Slavery) is an evil part of America’s past—as well as that of nearly every nation on earth. The fact that slavery has a universal heritage does not absolve American slave owners, but it does provide a necessary, historical context.”—Joshua Lawson, the Federalist.
- “The worst thing we could do is go all white male. There needs to be a woman on the ticket. This election is going to go through women, and it’s going to be decided by women.”—Ione Townsend, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Hillsborough County.
- Call it a lose-lose: inflamed politics in two, closely allied countries. That’s the unnecessary and unconscionable upshot we have as a result of President Donald Trump pressuring Israel to bar two controversial, Israel-criticizing congresswomen from entering the country. And Israel shamefully complying. In so doing, it underscored that shared values—as in free speech—mattered much less than self-serving, shared right-wing, political agendas. Even the pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC disagreed with the Israelis.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tough re-election next month. President Trump faces formidable re-election, possibly impeachment, opposition next year. Being sovereign, if hard line, soul mates plays well in both countries, even as existential issues such as “two state” and Palestinian rights remain unaddressed. Israel is armed and aided by the U.S. and really appreciated it when America unilaterally moved its embassy to JerUSAlem and further sanctioned Iran. Trump then called in the favor, knowing that further demonizing and humiliating Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib packed political advantage by portraying—by extension–the Jewish-favored Democratic Party as anti-Israel. As if criticism of Israel, which is not without vulnerability on sovereign issues, can be partisan-spun as anti-Semitic.
- Amid talk of recession, it’s typically expected—and prudent—for an Administration to wax relatively cautious but optimistic about the state of the economy. But there’s a difference between market assurance/bully-pulpit presidential optimism—and hyperbolic White House bragging where narcissism trumps nuance. For those needing further clarification—from tariff implications and Chinese currency manipulation to domestic wage erosion and a trillion-dollar deficit–here’s Trump’s inimitable take on the U.S. economy: “I don’t think we’re having a recession,” he states. “We’re doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut, and they’re loaded up with money.” Bill Maher couldn’t have said it more in character.
- “Donald Trump has a central message,” underscores Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a cut-to-the-chase focus on leading by scapegoating. “He says to the American people, if there’s anything wrong in your life, blame them—and ‘them’ means people who aren’t the same color as you, weren’t born where you were born, don’t worship the same way you do.” It’s a loathsome playbook that has been referenced across the centuries by authoritarians who know how to play the demonization and scapegoat cards.
- “The United States is now, by far, the Biggest, Strongest & Most Powerful Economy in the World, it is not even close! As others falter, we will only get stronger.”—That was Trump blustering on again about an economy that must still account for variables such as the necessity of global trade and partnerships and the inevitable, protectionist impact of uncertainty and chaos.
- There’s no lack of scenarios and rationales for the re-election or rejection of Donald Trump in 2020. But a certain rule of thumb still applies for next November. Given that Democratic demographics and never-Trump independents outnumber their Republican counterparts, Trump can’t win without Democratic complicity in the form of unforced errors: internal pique/divisiveness and voter-base laziness. There’s recent precedent, as we know all too well. Plus, we know about Russian cyber strategies and whom Trump’s Moscow handler still wants in the White House.
When it comes to the Trump base–however loud, Duck Dynasty-congruent and media-galvanizing–it is not the ultimate difference maker. That’s more the purview of the 1 percent greed heads and the incumbent GOPsters in Congress. The former can have outsized impact with their money and networks; the later will spinelessly support Trump to avoid being primaried. The former is fixated on tax cuts, stock buy-backs and anyone who reminds them of Arthur Laffer and his supply-side curves. The latter unpatriotically prioritize career over country—and won’t take a serious stand against Trump until they’re no longer in office.
And, BTW, irony and karma scenariosshouldn’t be precluded for Trump’s greedy, 1 percent enablers. The road to autocracy and white nationalist authoritarianism can’t ultimately be good for business.
- It’s been reported that Trump had been interested in making an offer for Greenland, but Denmark wasn’t buying. Maybe the Danes were taken aback when Trump proposed a brand name change. Or maybe the starting price point was the real non-starter as Trump likely analogized Greenland with Manhattan Island, which sold for $24 (60 Dutch guilders) back in the day.
- That Donald Trump is a pathological liar has been self-evident for decades. Whether it’s alternate facts or something personal. The former—as when contradicting the intelligence community on the Russian electoral attack—is part of his existential threat. The latter are mere signs of disturbing vanity, such as falsifying crowd sizes and lying about his (6’2”) height—to add an inch so that his body mass index would not label him as obese. Thatand a too-long tie have worked so well in masquerading his girth. Fat chance.
- For those wondering what Rudy Giuliani is still doing around the White House besides being a double-edged sword to the media, maybe it’s because he still thinks he’s going to get the job he really wanted with this Administration: secretary of state. Reportedly, he has turned down attorney general, Department of Homeland Security and director of national intelligence. Secretary of State? Mike Pompeo never seemed so diplomatic.
- Bill Clinton. Sarah Palin. Barack Obama. Mitch McConnell. They have all had an impact on Donald Trump’s narrow election. From indirect and inadvertent to purposeful.
When the Clinton White House reneged on President George H.W. Bush’s pledge not to take advantage of the humiliating Soviet devolution, it stoked the sort of Russian nationalism that helped give rise to Vladimir Putin, who would seek national revenge as only a former KGBer would. And because Clinton had his women issues, as it were, his wife’s 2016 candidacy was restrained from maxing out on the historic run to be the first female president. Having enabled, in effect, a predator can erode a lot of the moral high ground when going after Trump, the disgusting misogynist.
When John McCain put Sarah Palin on his 2008 ticket, he normalized knowing nothing. Alas, that is also part of his legacy. Her lack of preparation for anything other than her own reality TV show was shameful and alarming. Palin could have been but a heartbeat away from the presidency. She helped pave the way for the ultimate show business charlatan.
As we’ve seen, the election of Barack Obama did not signal an end to racism in this country. Not even close. Ironically—and tragically—it only embittered a white demographic that was affronted and blind-sided that those they looked down on were now represented by one of their own in the (not) White (enough) House. The resentment smoldered until it was rekindled by the racist flame-thrower, “populist” candidate.
When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lived down to his promise to not allow President Obama to fill the Antonin Scalia seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, he gave the Republican nominee a chance to play the non-liberal justice card. In so doing, it also provided cover for certain Republicans—from feckless establishment sorts to hypocritical evangelicals. The Federalist Society took it from there with its vetted list of alternatives to Obama’s Merrick Garland.
- “Give me your well-educated, your entrepreneurs. Your would-be innovators yearning to breathe unregulated success.” You’d think, sometimes, that this is actually what Emma Lazarus had crafted as words of welcome on the Statue of Liberty.
- “A terrible human being.” That was former GOP Congressman Mick Mulvaney in 2016 referencing the president for his “disgusting and indefensible” conduct around women. But that was then—and this is now Trump’s chief of staff. It’s what craven, career-first Republicans do when someone so shockingly unprepared and unethical winds up imperiling America from the White House. Just ask Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry and Lindsey Graham.
- Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer is, of course, against any state assault weapons ban—but she doesn’t need to channel the Founding Fathers for her rationale. It’s economic. Any serious ban would put gun shops out of business. “Gov. Rick Scott and Enterprise Florida solicited and offered significant financial incentives to gun manufacturers to come to Florida to bring more jobs,” explained Hammer. Oh. And that campaign—representing warped priorities more than pro-business marketing–is what prompted Colt Manufacturing Co. and Kalashnikov USA, among others, to take advantage of our notorious gun culture and NRA fealty to relocate here. As if that wasn’t incentive enough. There are now more than 700 firearms manufacturing license-holders in the Gunshine State.
And as for the economic hit, what of the impact occasioned by a mass shooting? What of the medical costs and police-response expenses and lost wages? But more to the point, what of the sheer cost of human lives—and the terror toll exacted on communities, such as Orlando and Plantation? That’s who really need lobbyists, not the gun manufacturers industrial complex.
- Talk about sustainable travel options. The new Visit Florida “eco” web page is now informing visitors of Florida’s eco-friendly attractions—and how to help with more than their direct economic impact. As in a hands-on, eco-friendly volunteer stint. The message couldn’t be more timely, pragmatic or progressive. Helping to preserve the environment helps to preserve the tourist-dependent economy. And while this is Florida’s economy, it’s everybody’s environment. If it isn’t sustainable, everybody loses.
- Rep. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, was spot on in his inclusive take on America’s deadly shootings. “The conversation we are having about gun violence is so important,” he said, “but it is my sincere hope that we as a country will also give a damn about what is happening in communities of color when it comes to gun violence.” It’s a valid point, and one easily glossed over when the news cycles are dominated by high-profile, racist and anti-immigrant mass murders. As if what happens in certain inner cities is just another day at the urban battleground. To wit: Two weekends ago there were 32 separate shooting incidents—leaving seven dead—in Chicago. The victims and shooters were black. It was largely the work of gangbangers—not neo-Nazis and other white nationalists. It was all-too-familiar inner-city carnage and disfunction. Maybe “Black Lives Matter” can take up the cause—and not be selective about context.
- Somebody, presumably, has to co-chair Trump’s Hispanic outreach campaign; too bad it’s Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez.
- Universal Pictures has canceled next month’s release of “The Hunt” in the wake of recent mass shootings. The $18 million production, starring Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and directed by Craig Zobel, depicts liberal “elites” hunting people in red states for sport. “We understand that now is not the time,” explained a statement from Universal. Two begged questions: When is it ever the “time” to put something like this out? And is this what happens when the likes of a back-in-the day studio such as Universal Pictures finds it increasingly difficult to compete with Netflix, Amazon and HBO?
- “He’s off the rails. … The behavior is nihilistic. If it continues, responsible people will have to speak up.” That was former White House communications chief Anthony Scaramucci, reminding us why he’s now more welcome on CNN and MSNBC than Fox.
- “Destabilizing behavior.”—How Defense Secretary Mark Esper characterized China’s aggressive moves in the South China Sea.
- “(Trump) is obsessed with China’s persistent trade surpluses with America, even though economists keep telling him those are driven by more than just China’s trade barriers. They’re primarily driven by U.S. fiscal policy, interest rates and America spending more than we produce, and importing the difference.”—Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times.
- “While the United States is still the most powerful country on the planet, it has little leverage left in Afghanistan.”—Retired Maj. Gen. Richard S. Haddad, a fellow at the American College of National Security leaders.
- “The way global economic weakness will most impact the U.S. is primarily through our manufacturing sector. That is the indicator to keep an eye on.”—Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner.
- “Assault weapons—military-style firearms designed to fire rapidly—are a threat to our national security, and we should treat that as such. Anyone who pretends there’s nothing we can do is lying—and holding that view should be disqualifying for anyone seeking to lead our country.”—Former VP Joe Biden.
- “Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax. Donald Trump is an idiot.”—Sen. Bernie Sanders.
- “He revels in conspiracy theories because he knows it gives him quick and easy traction with the masses.”—Trump biographer Timothy L. O’Brien.
- “Let me assure you that this case will continue on against anyone who was complicit with Epstein.”—Attorney General William Barr.
- “I have always been an active participant in the democratic process.”—New York developer—and Miami Dolphins’ owner–Stephen Ross’ response to those criticizing his recent mega-bucks fundraiser for Donald Trump.
- “When stocks go up, Trump claims full credit; when they go down, it’s the Fed’s fault.”—Catherine Rampell, Washington Post.
- “There is potential for a U.S. recession … because of the lunacy of trade policy and the damage it’s doing.”—Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.
- “They can throw whatever kinds of grenades and fire at me, if they like. I’m confident in who I am and what I stand for. I’m going to preach all the great things that I see the Trump Administration has done.”—Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez.
- “Central Florida is the new breadbasket for the state in terms of job creation and economic growth. If you look at Tampa (Bay) and Orlando combined, that’s more than 80,000 jobs created.”—UCF economist Sean Snaith, on Florida’s strong job growth—with an unemployment rate of 3.3 percent in July.
- “My job’s pretty clear. Do what’s right for the university, and that means all three locations.”–New USF President Steve Currall.
- “I can’t really hold back anymore. I’ll be honest with y’all. We are teetering on the edge of water war.”—Tampa Bay Water board chairman Sandy Murman.
- “How fitting for our evolving brand to return to an evolving city.”—Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, which will return to Tampa next year for the first time in a decade.
- Iran’s economy—inflation reaching 50 percent and GDP down 6 percent–has been hammered by sanctions as its oil exports have dropped from 2.5 million barrels a day to 500,000. Now its biggest—sanctions notwithstanding—customer is China. No surprise, and no lack of irony. The U.S. unilaterally withdraws from the Iran nuclear deal and unilaterally initiates a trade war with China. And China winds up helping out Iran.
- Amid all the turmoil of a trade war—and consequent roiling markets–is there little doubt now that the U.S would have been better off staying in the Trans-Pacific Partnership? A free trade agreement, the TPP would have aligned all the major Pacific economies—minus China—around America’s trade standards—and interests—and lowered tariffs on a ton of American products. Having the leverage of partners, including European Union countries that (still) respect us, would make eminently more sense than a base-pandering, vanity confrontation between Donald Trump and Xi Jinping.
- Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, is leaving, effective Oct. 3. Questions will trail him. Foremost: Why did he take the seemingly no-win position in the first place? Did he take one for his country—the diplomatic counterpart of Gen. Jim Mattis at Defense—to counterbalance a volatile, unhinged president? Or as a former Utah governor, former ambassador to China and former Republican presidential candidate, did he want back in the game at any cost? His resignation letter offers few specifics, but does resonate with realpolitik. “No reset or restart is going to help,” notes Huntsman, “just a clear understanding of our interests and values.”
And why exactly is he leaving? Was working around the beyond-bizarre Trump-Vladimir Putin relationship—in the context of Russian election assaults, Ukraine-related sanctions, Syrian civil war sides and “golden showers” tales—too much for any human being outside the true Trumpster orbit to endure? Was it a visceral desire to just delouse himself—and preserve what’s left of his reputation? Was it another run for Utah governor next year? A combination?
And what was Huntsman’s impact? Did he unduly lend unearned credibility to an unconscionably unprepared Trump? And while you can’t ultimately prove a negative, was his experience and professional presence actually a behind-the-scenes brake on bilateral scenarios that could have been even worse?
- Who better to urge “Red Flag” laws than a “Red Flag” president? As for removing guns from those who pose a “public safety threat,” that should mean that Trump can’t carry.
- And speaking of “background checks,” too bad the Trump base paid no mind to what had been public record for decades about Trump—from filing bankruptcies and lying pathologically to bullying the vulnerable, fostering racism and preying on women. Or were they just that enamored of “The Apprentice” and that smoldering in their resentment to an Obama presidency?
- “It’s CRITICAL that we STOP THE INVASION.”—A recent Trump campaign Facebook ad. Timing is everything.
- “I refuse to be a prop.”—That was Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, whose district includes El Paso, on why she declined to meet with President Trump. Too bad Mike Pence doesn’t feel the same way.
- “Trump the Healer”? As if. Then how about “Putin the Peacenik” or “Kim the Kibitzer”?
- Try Googling “Trump and Kim.” Both Khardashian and Jong Un come up. Says volumes.
- It’s bad enough that George Wallace is back in the conversation, but now we’re seeing references to Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the KKK.
- “We’re better than this.” If we have to keep saying it, are we? We’ll have a come-to-Jesus answer in 2020. Either America will have rebelled against the revolting and expunged Trump from the Oval Orifice—and mitigated the damage. Or America will have doubled down on despicable—with collateral damage far into the future. Not exactly a Hobson’s choice.
- Thanks to more sanctions on Venezuela, John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser, remains prominent in the news cycle. Speaking of the foreign policy neo-con, here’s an outtake from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” that is a reminder of how a couple of Trump insiders assessed Bolton. It’s a post-election, pre-inauguration exchange between Roger Ailes and Steve Bannon:
- Ailes: “(Bolton’s) a bomb thrower. And a strange little f—er. But you need him.”
- Bannon: “Bolton’s mustache is a problem. Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”
- Ailes: “Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.” Bannon: “If I told Trump that, he might have the job.”
- I hadn’t been sleeping that well for a while. But there were a few non-Rx approaches at the ready. Subtract some coffee, add some Melatonin, work in a diffuser. Didn’t help enough. But there was one remaining option. I turned the TV off early, read for a longer period, walked my adorable, senior Peekapoo Zeek on last call and called it a night. Zzzzzzzzz. There’s a reason why it’s advised that you knock off the screen time well in advance of going to bed. It otherwise leaves you too wired. Especially when screen time inevitably means screed time–from cable political analysis and TrumpSpin.