* “The world expects us to be concerned with the condition of humanity. We should be proud of that reputation. I’m not sure the president understands that.”–Excerpt from Sen. John McCain’s forthcoming book, “The Restless Wave.”

* “(Trump) sees this (North Korean negotiation) as a Nixon-in-China moment, and he will want to move quickly, where patience is the order of the day.”–Kurt M. Campbell, former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs during the Obama Administration.

* “We give the very best information that we have at the time.”–White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

* “Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Trump are making it up as they go along. How stupid do they think all of us are?”–Michael Avenatti, attorney for Stormy Daniels.

* “So it comes down to this: The $130,000 that Stormy Daniels got to keep quiet during the campaign was from Trump. But it was not an illicit  campaign contribution. Nonono, it was simply a charitable attempt to protect Melania from a broken heart.”–Gail Collins, New York Times.

* “Republicans on the Hill are bracing for a blue wave. Some have gotten out of the way, some have hunkered down. Mr. Trump is their problem. Whatever magic he has is not transferable. The base continues to shift under your feet.”–Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.

* “We cannot get complacent. We have to win the midterms.”–Donald Trump.

* “We are both dragon energy. He is my brother.”–Rapper Kanye West, in reference to his relationship with Donald Trump.

* “In the beginning of each great electronic media transformation–radio and television and now social media–there have been anxieties that mass communication would enable demagogy and trivialize governance.”–Historian Jon Meacham.

* “There have been times in this office when I’ve wondered how you could do the job if you hadn’t been an actor.”–President Ronald Reagan.

* “There is still a lot of thinking on the right that if big corporations are happy, they’re going to take the money they’re saving and reinvest it in American workers. In fact, they bought back shares, a few gave out bonuses; there’s no evidence whatsoever that the money’s been massively poured back into the American worker.”–Sen. Marco Rubio.

* “Anybody who wants to talk about impeachment in this election, you’re giving a gift to the Republicans, because that’s just all they want to hear, that we want to win because we want to impeach. … It’s about a more positive agenda–better jobs, better pay, better future.”–U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

* “Ending the Trump presidency will not fix, or even substantially ameliorate, most of the problems plaguing the American political system.”–Dylan Matthews, Vox.

* “We must resolve this (China) trade dispute without resorting to job-killing tariffs and retaliation.”–National Retail Federation CEO Matthew Shay.

* “If the intention of our (immigration) admissions program is to provide ‘durable solutions to the most vulnerable refugees,’ then tackling the English proficiency should be the number one goal. Those who don’t learn our language are doomed to live in the shadows with very little chance of rising out of poverty.”–Mitchell Rolling, American Conservative.

* “This will be the most expensive driving season since 2014.”–Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service, in noting that crude oil prices are at the highest level in more than three years.

* “When he was in his 20s, he was in elective office. When I was in my 20s, I was serving in Iraq.”–Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, in portraying Adam Putnam as a career politician.

* “Right now, we’re waiting for Godot.”–Tampa city Councilman Mike Suarez, a candidate for mayor, on the need for a proactive approach to transit, including the extension of the city’s streetcar line.

* “We’re 35 years behind. We’ve got to get cars off the road. We need a regional system run by an independent agency with bonding power.”–Tom Hall, chairman of the Tucker/Hall PR firm.

* “We’re aggressively looking for private capital, private developers, to build a stadium.”–Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill.

* “I think for most officers, the chances of a camera helping you are far greater than the chances of it hurting you.”–Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent.

Emmanuel Macron to Kayne West

* You have to wonder what French President Emmanuel Macron really thinks of Donald Trump.

Macron seems too smart, too savvy, too informed, too young, too short to be Trump’s best, non-authoritarian, geo-political bosom buddy. But how else do you get the U.S. to not abandon the cause of climate change and to not pull out of the Iranian nuclear deal without giving it your best bromantic shot? Making science-based, existential points is an obvious non-starter.

You can imagine what was going through Macron’s mind as photographers gathered for their historic handshakes and air kisses. Maybe: “I don’t mind taking one for the team, but–sacre bleu. He won’t hug Merkel. What would de Gaulle do?”

* It has now been confirmed that there will be further delay in releasing the rest of the JFK assassination records. They’ll remain classified for national security reasons until at least 2021. At least that’s what Trump has been told. Actually, it’s more out of scandalous embarrassment for reprehensible incompetence and rogue government elements involved in the assassination.

Hell, you would think Trump would actually like the distraction–even if there’s no confirmation that Ted Cruz’s father was involved.

* Trump is now set to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May in July. But it won’t be an “official” state visit by Trump. That’s a polite way of saying he won’t have to endure some awkward optics over a royal family visit.

* Amid the Nobel Peace Prize conjecture, let’s keep this in mind about the rapprochement now  under way on the Korean Peninsula. There was a critically important move involving a key player that has led to what we’re now seeing. No, not by Trump. Not Kim Jong Un. Not Moon Jae-in.

It  actually involved Park Geun-hye, the former president of South Korea. She was disgraced in a corruption scandal, driven from office and sentenced to 24 years in prison. She and her hard-line views toward the North were replaced last year by Moon, who was well known for his conciliatory approach to the North. There would be, quite arguably, no serious warming of relations if Park were still in office. Moon was a game changer, if not a Nobel Prize candidate.

BTW, there’s still no U.S. ambassador to South Korea, although Adm. Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, will reportedly be Trump’s nominee.

* Trump will soon formally decide whether to keep the U.S. in the Iran nuclear deal. The ripple effects of a unilateral rejection are worrisome from Iran itself to U.S. credibility with the other Iran-deal signatories–England, France, Germany, China and Russia–to North Korea, as it takes notes on, ironically, U.S. reliability while prepping for the Trump-Kim summit.

* The White House Correspondents’ Dinner didn’t help the cause if your cause is celebrating viable, professional media and accountability-holding criticism in the era of Trump. The featured comedienne, Michelle Wolf , was, on balance, tasteless and off-putting and did, ironically, a disservice to journalism by dragging everyone into the mud with Trump. How do you criticize Trump, for example, for all of his Administration’s vetting failures when you don’t properly vet your annual dinner’s headline comic performer? She was a room-service talking point for the Trump pushback on mainstream media as a biased, “witch-hunting” enemy.

She did, however, telegraph her punch lines from the start: “Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with a Trump, let’s get this over with.” Not soon enough.

I miss Seth Meyers.

* The Senate just confirmed Trump’s 15th appeals court nominee. This is in addition to the 17 Trump-nominated judges on district courts. We know Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, and we can’t help second guessing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 85, for not retiring while Obama was still in position to choose a replacement and not worry about Mitch McConnell. Stay healthy and feisty, albeit frail, RBG.

* So the controversial Dr. Ronny Jackson has withdrawn as Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, after denying allegations involving the dispersals of meds, a hostile work environment within the White House medical team and possible over-imbibing while on duty. Imagine if he had been accused of what Trump did?

* Trump and Kanye West. It is what it is: two obnoxious, self-serving, pop culture celebrities. If only one were not president of the United States.

Dr. Huxtable/Mr. Hyde

Bill Cosby is no longer the accused. He is now the convicted. For sexually assaulting much younger, vulnerable women, many of whom, unconscionably, were unconscious. That was his Quaalude M.O. for uninvited sex with unwitting, young females. Mentor as monster. Throw away the key.

However, what makes these crimes all the more harmful, is that there is also a potential broader victim: society at large. In an America that has always been rife with racism, Cosby in his prime appealed to both sides of the racial divide with universal humor. From Fat Albert to Noah’s Ark to the familial musings of Dr. Huxtable. We really needed that. He reminded us of what we had in common–not conflict.

Red Foxx, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy had their entertaining niches, which included raw language and bawdy routines. The family-friendly Cosby didn’t go there. In fact, he was even chided in activist circles for not being street-language hip and, not unlike Jackie Robinson, lulling white households into a false sense of civil rights success.

Cosby made no apologies. “A white person listens to my act and he laughs,” he once noted, “and he thinks, ‘Yeah, that’s the way I see it too.’ … And we both see things the same way. That must mean that we are alike. Right? So I figure this way I’m doing as much for good race relations as the next guy.”

Arguably more. That approach, however, should not be written off along with his evil doppelganger, predatory ways in real life. His universal humor should prevail as a reminder of what we all, regardless of race, have in common. It would be criminal to not build on that.

Our Political Quartet

Here are four names of those who have contributed, however unwittingly and ironically, to where we unfortunately are now in Florida and the United States.

*Charlie Crist. There would have been no GOP challenge by Rick Scott if the incumbent Republican Florida governor didn’t yield to ambition by stepping down.

* Alex Sink. In an election that was the Dems to lose, she led the loss with an ineffective, uninspiring campaign capped by a debate debacle.

* Bernie Sanders. The best intentions of an admirable avatar of socialistic idealism ultimately yielded liberal disillusionment that morphed into MIA leftist voters who couldn’t abide an establishment candidate.

* Hillary Clinton. Smart, informed, prepared, but flawed candidate. Think Bill Clinton enabler who couldn’t take full advantage of her vile, misogynist opponent. Plus big-money, Wall Street speeches that undermined Democratic-base identification. Plus stupid handling of emails that rallied the opposition and provoked “Lock Her Up” chants among the pitchfork and flambeau deplorables. Plus keeping on Huma Abedin as vice chair of her campaign, which meant keeping the Weinermobile nearby, which led to the final, fatal James Comey email inquiry.

Not fair? Of course not. But life, alas, too often isn’t. In this case, we had good, capable people who deserved better. As, alas, did the majority of us who are still stuck with “Flori-duh” frustration and “MAGA” menace.

Term Limits Reality

Here’s what should be the ultimate bottom line when it comes to term limits, whether we’re talking FDR, Barack Obama, Sam Gibbons, Rick Scott or Bob Buckhorn. And, yes, this takes into consideration name-recognition advantages and fund-raising wherewithal. In short, we should let the electorate decide to limit terms by kicking out the self-serving and career-carving or retaining the hard-working and conscience-following.

Or don’t we, well, trust the electorate to do the right thing–because it requires voters to be, well, involved, informed and not easily pandered to by those always targeting the lowest common denominator? Especially in this era of “fake news” and validating, cherry-picked, partisan media. The challenges have never been more formidable to do, ironically, what’s in our own best interest.

Democracies shouldn’t accord “off-year”-election passes to rationalize embarrassingly low turnouts. They all matter–from mayor to governor to president. Don’t they?

Let’s limit laziness and gullibility–not incumbent terms.

Media Matters

* I’ve often said “Doonesbury” should be on the editorial page–not sharing comics space with “Dennis the Menace” and “Hagar the Horrible.” Most recent case in point: the absolute, spot-on skewering of evangelicals who have, unconscionably and hypocritically, supported Donald Trump. You go, Gary.

* Wouldn’t it be rhetorically easier to take the fair and societally-beneficial side of “felon voting rights” if, every time the issue were debated or chronicled or headlined in the media, the reference was to “former felon” or “ex-felon” voting rights? Psychologically, it may help if we underscored that we are considering the status of those, violent-crime category excluded, removed from felonious ways and deserving of a return to full-citizen status. And, as noted previously in this column, this would be a step in the direction of enlightened self-interest, because disenfranchised former felons have disturbingly high recidivism rates.

Sports Shorts

* The Bucs Ring of Honor will be adding another inductee this season–and it will be at halftime of the Sept. 24 Monday Night Football game at Ray Jay against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The honoree will be Tony Dungy, who, as was the case with last year’s honoree, Jon Gruden, is a former Bucs coach. Something else they also have in common: They were both fired.

* USF just signed Athletics Director Mark Harlan to a contract extension. He’s been with the Bulls since 2014. Since then, USF has won 13 conference championships. That’s impressive. But we know what bucket list boxes remain unchecked. None of those championships were in football or men’s basketball, which still matter the most.


* “Donald Trump convinced North Korea and China he was serious about bringing about change. We’re not there yet, but if this happens, President Trump deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.”–South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

* “We should not harbor any illusions; Europe is far too weak and divided to stand in for the U.S. strategically. And without U.S. leadership, the West cannot survive.”–Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.

* “(Donald Trump) wants the United States to become a mercenary power, protecting only those countries willing to pay for their protection, so he can concentrate on making America great again at home. But the hard lessons learned throughout history suggest the best way for the United States to care for its own interests is by investing in the security of its allies.”–William Drozdiak, author of “Fractured Continent.”

* “We in the intelligence world have dealt with obstinate and argumentative presidents through the years. But we have never served a president for whom ground truth really doesn’t matter.”–Michael V. Hayden, former director of the CIA.

* “To abandon facts is to abandon freedom. If nothing is true, then no one can criticize power, because there is no basis upon which to do so. Post-truth is pre-fascism.”–Historian Timothy Snyder, author of “On Tyranny.”

* “Never believe the CBO (Congressional Budget Office). Very important. Never believe them.”–White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, in rejecting CBO reports that the tax cut would raise the national debt by $1 trillion over a decade.

* “The opportunity here is not to suggest a ticket of moderates. I think that we’re speaking to what nobody else is, the ability to work together in a bipartisan way.”–Former Republican Congressman David Jolly, on the possibility he could be on a Florida Democratic gubernatorial ticket with former Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy.

* “It’s Time to Name the Betrayers Who Voted For Gun Control.”–Title of a letter recently circulated by Marion Hammer, the NRA’s Florida lobbyist.

* “If this state can ban people from voting but can’t ban weapons on our streets, that’s sick.”–The Rev. R.B. Holmes, an organizer of the recent Tallahassee march in support of Amendment 4, the statewide citizens’ initiative to restore the right to vote to former felons in Florida.

* “Tampa has got extraordinary potential.”–Marriott International President and CEO Arne Sorenson.

* “The I-4 corridor is precisely the location where future Hillsborough County growth should occur.”–Ryan Sampson, immediate past president of NAIOP Tampa Bay, the trade organization that represents commercial real estate developers, owners and investors.

* “You can’t buy that kind of media exposure. It’s important to keep that high profile.”–Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, on the value of having an NHL franchise advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Still Hope For Communications Self-Help

If you’re more than miffed at Facebook and feel you’ve been Suckerberged–or if you’re just tired of gratuitous, grammatically-challenged emails, here’s a suggestion: Write a letter.

Drop a line, even if it gobsmacks the recipient, to a parent or a spouse or an offspring or a sibling or an old friend or a valued cohort or a nice neighbor. Imagine the impact. You cared enough to do this! Even if it’s postmarked from this really cool place you’re visiting! This is personal, not a post “personally” shared with lots of others.

You’re connecting at a visceral, not just a technological level. And nobody’s getting monetized.

Written communication, once an art and now an artifact, requires more thought than online keystroking. Make a mistake, think of a better word, you have to cross it out. Looks untidy. Or start over. So you think prior to–and while–writing. This is you at your most-thoughtful, articulate best. Remember, you still have that side. Share it.

You could start by upping your game with greeting cards. Don’t be satisfied with E-greetings or Hallmarked sentiments with your signature. Caring enough to buy a card at CVS isn’t caring enough.

And imagine the impact. Missives radiate: “I cared enough to actually write you. You matter that much.” It can also be an emotionally positive, cathartic experience for the writer. You’re tapping you–not a keyboard.

So, write a letter. Hell, maybe you’ll get one back. Maybe it’ll catch on. Maybe the Postal Service can be less reliant on Amazon. Scenarios abound.

Here’s another suggestion, although it probably doesn’t apply to this publication’s readers. You already have an admirable, old-school print habit. Bless you. Subscribe to a newspaper. A real one.

If it editorially leans left or right, no matter. It’s labeled as such. And nobody needs a self-validating news cocoon.

This is not just to help an industry that looks, alas, increasingly anachronistic. But to help a democracy that looks, alas, increasingly vulnerable. From Russian bots to alt-Reich Breitbart.

We know how we got here.

That Luxurious Future

A few takeaways from those stop-the-presses headlines showcasing Tampa’s future as “Soaring and Luxe.” That’s what you get when you announce that the massive downtown makeover now well underway will include, but hardly be limited to, two new Marriott hotels, one a presumed, 5-star Edition brand, plus the imminent opening of a sales center for the 50-plus story Riverwalk Place.

* From its sleek, towering design, Riverwalk Place looks more Dubai than downtown Tampa, but its mixed-use composition could be catalytic, and it would further distance the city from the days of Trump Tower Tampa buzz.

* The combination of Jeff Vinik, Bill Gates, hotelier Ian Schrager and the tandem of Feldman Equities of Tampa and Two Roads Development of South Florida amount to a Tampa vote of confidence in the multi billions.

* We all remember September’s close call with Hurricane Irma–and those ominous Bob Buckhorn quotes. Had it hit, it could have set Tampa back by decades. But that dodged bullet has not deterred investors. Tampa is still prime real estate reality. “We’re long-term owners,” underscored James Nozar, CEO of Strategic Property Partners, the development company launched by Vinik and Gates.

* Imagine all this commitment, all this investment and Tampa still lacks serious, major-metro mass transit?