Fear Itself On The Ballot


The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Those riveting, rallying words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt defined post-Pearl Harbor America. He was the right president for the perilous time. That was then.

Today such rhetoric would seem naive. Sure, the world is worrisome—from the lethal confrontations in the Middle East and Ukraine to Chinese hackers to pandemic aftermath. But it’s not the visceral, gut fear that comes with a surprise-attack, lost lives and a world war.

This time the ultimate fear is actually a home-grown iteration. It’s seeing the possibility of an existential threat back in the White House, where the ripple effects impact the economy, national security, the Constitution and freedom. American “liberty” and “patriotism” shouldn’t be perverted with a disingenuous, “anti-woke” connotation. But it’s now on the 2024 ballot. This is worthy of real fear.

It’s about having a narcissistic, autocratic, seditious sex offender–one who led the effort to overturn an election and would surround himself with a compliant DOJ and a cabinet of sycophantic, second-rate lapdogs—as an ex-president seeking retribution. It’s about having a criminal defendant-candidate, which should be an oxymoron. It’s about the Oval Office housing “the most flawed person I’ve ever met,” according to former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly. And it’s about a manifestly flawed system that includes the undemocratic Electoral College and a frighteningly large chunk of the electorate, Morons for a Messiah, living in a misinformation bubble and too easily manipulated by a faux populist cult leader, anxious to preside, according to Chris Christie, over a “vendetta presidency.”

Yes, Trump’s a source of real, tangible fear itself.

KC Shooting

It’s all too familiar. America has a killer gun culture.

The most recent horrific example: A lethal shooting at a Kansas City Super Bowl parade. A parade! We’ve seen it happen at movie theaters and parties and entertainment districts. Not hate crimes, just societal misfits, often unsupervised juveniles, bringing a gun to such venues. And then inevitable “disputes” break out. And innocent people die because “packing” for a block party, movie or parade is now a dystopian given for too many.


Dem Notes

* Older candidate perspective: Occasional, awkward gaffes vs. ongoing, unhinged, unethical chaos.

* Biden’s approval ratings have been heading south. Recall, however, that Trump left office at 34%.

* According to Trump, it’s “Sleepy Joe.” According to the Steele dossier, it’s “Pee Pee Don.”

* Criticism of Vladimir Putin over the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny:

^Biden: “It’s a reflection of who (Putin) is. It cannot be tolerated.”

^Trump: “ ………………….”

* U.S. employers began ‘24 by adding 353,000 jobs in January—roughly twice what economists had been forecasting. The unemployment rate remained at 3.7%, barely above a 50-year low.

* The Commerce Department reported that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.3% from October through December.

* Data shows inflation falling back to the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target without a recession.

* “While falling inflation took some time to feed through to consumer sentiment, it appears the good news is finally getting through.”–Oxford Economics analyst Grace Zwemmer.

* Kudlow-down: Fox Business host—and former Trump economic adviser—Larry Kudlow, who had been predicting economic gloom, has now switched to a reality lens. “I was wrong about the slowdown and the recession,” he admits. “I would be bragging about (the economy) too.”

* The unemployment rate for black Americans fell below 5% for the first time in April. For the record, the rate peaked at 16.8% in May 2020. Now it’s 4.7%. You’ll be hearing this again, but probably not from Tim Scott.

* “In America, freedom is not to be given. It is not to be bestowed. It is ours by right.”–VP Kamala Harris, during her “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour. A reminder that having a female vice president is not only historic, it is invaluable with abortion on the ballot.

* As reported on, yes, Fox, year-end reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission show the DNC holding nearly three times the cash on hand reported by the RNC and brought in nearly three times as much fund-raising in the final month of 2023.

* Heads up: Democrats are defending more Senate seats than Republicans in 2024.

* According to Bill O’Reilly, Michelle Obama is “the only one” among Democrats “who could beat” Trump. For the record, the former First Lady has given no sign that she is interested. For the record, that’s an O’Reilly shot at Biden.

* “Border is no longer the province of Republicans.”–Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

* The Biden Administration has set a goal—but not a mandate—to have electric vehicles comprise half of all new vehicles sold by 2030.



* Most blatant oxymoron: civil war. Also oxymoronic: political science.

* The older we get, the earlier it gets late.

* Political yard sign: “No Soliciting: We Know Who We’re Voting For.”

* What teens who can’t wait for a Gasparilla port-o-let resort to: their rite of pissage.

Tampa Bay

* Joe Lo leaving: TIA CEO Joe Lopano, 69, has announced his upcoming retirement in 2025 after 14 years on the job. He’s been an effective, marketing-savvy, regional leader who handled COVID adaptations and pushed for TIA expansion and new destinations. His advocacy vision has helped heighten TIA’s profile and set new passenger records.

Lopano will not be an easy act to follow, but momentum surely helps.


* With his chaotic presidential run behind him, maybe Gov. DiSastrous could now focus on the immediate issues that matter most to most Floridians, such as affordable housing and home and health insurance. Alas, there’s a better chance that he will be inspired by Alabama and push for nitrogen gas executions.

* “Florida’s higher education system will focus on preparing students for high-demand, high-wage jobs, not woke ideology.” That was Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, on the removal of sociology as a Florida core course. What Diaz inexplicably doesn’t get is that universities are more than anti-woke trade schools.

* Florida leads the U.S. in Affordable Care Act enrollment: more than 4 million signees for 2024.

* Floriduh: Don’t say “climate change,” especially if you’re gay.

Media Matters

* In Davos, the World Economic Forum ranked misinformation as the biggest short-term danger in its Global Risks Report.

* “The corporate greed in media is out of control, and hedge funds are at the core of that corporate greed.”–Jon Schleuss, president of NewsGuild-CWA, which represents newsroom employees, including those at the Chicago Tribune who went on a recent one-day strike over fair wages.

* “In a certain sense, being a journalist is choosing to touch with your hands the wounds of society and of the world. This is an occasion for me to thank you.”–Pope Francis, in reference to Rome-base journalists who uncovered scandals in the Catholic Church.

* “If you’re on “Saturday Night Live,” you’ve broken out of the political media bubble into general pop culture, and that’s a good place to be for presidential candidates.”–GOP PR consultant Alex Conant.

Foreign Affairs

* The UN Human Rights Office says the death penalty violates the right to life and does not deter crime.

* Amnesty International ranks China as the top global executioner. (Lethal injection is the most common form of execution.)

* New Zealand was the first country in the world to extend the right to vote to women (1893). The last European country to extend suffrage to women was Switzerland (1971).

* If Putin-wary NATO had a presidential vote, it wouldn’t be for Trump. Peace and self-defense–not tough-guy appeasement and ally abandonment–is the priority.

Sports Shorts

* Record for the Tampa Bay ages: The Rays home-attendance record is 45,369—dating back to the franchise’s 1998 debut. That won’t change.

* It’s been more than a decade (2011-12) since the USF men’s basketball team made the NCAA tourney. That could change this season as the Bulls recently won their 11th in a row (over FAU) before a sold-out, packed (10,659) house at the Yuengling Center. Go, Bulls.

* The Super Parity Bowl: Where else in football would the championship game feature teams (Kansas City and San Francisco) with a combined 11 losses?

* Sobering sign of the times: MLB now needs—and has—a Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault & Child Abuse Policy. As Wander Franco well knows.

Trumpster Diving

* Trump tells his base supporters that he is being prosecuted on their behalf. They believe him. It’s what followers of any cult leader—whether Trump or the Rev. Jim Jones—do.

* Trump will be forced to pay a $364 million fraud fine. He’s already looking for new sources of revenue. Exhibit A: High-top, gold-glossed, stars-and-striped “Trump Sneakers”: only $399.

* Jan. 6 rioters are not “political prisoners.” But they are stupid, insurrectionist, criminal punks.

* “I just love you (Trump).”–That was Sen. Tim Scott again giving sycophancy a bad name.

* The family man: Trump is pushing for his daughter-in-law Lara to co-chair the RNC.

* “People need to start coming together and working together. But right now, none of that is happening because (Nikki Haley) is still out there stoking the anti-Trump fire.”–Former Trump adviser David Urban. In short, hang in there, Haley. It would be helpful, if unlikely, if a Hillary/Bernie-like, infighting scenario counterproductively impacted the GOP this year and undermined party unity and the 2024 election.

* “Nobody should be playing politics with the border … Trump shouldn’t be telling Republicans, ‘Wait until the election, because we don’t want this to help Biden win.’”–Nikki Haley again, concerned about “America First” or “Trump First.” Or maybe “America Alone.”

* “Trump doesn’t regard Europe’s defense as a vital American interest.”–William Golston, WSJ.

* It should be worth noting–especially in a zero-sum, partisan political context–that (former President) Trump’s “populist” tax cut added more than $2 trillion to the federal debt. Maybe some Tea Partiers have noticed.

* 2020 Forecast reminder: “If Biden wins, you’re going to have a stock market collapse the likes of which you’ve never had. You will have a collapse.” It still hasn’t happened, but we know what Trump is rooting for.

* “Because they (investors) think I’m going to be elected.”–Trump’s take on why the stock market is doing well.

* The 2006 version of Trump the faux populist weighing in on the approaching housing-market crash (of ‘08): “I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy.” America first?

* In a court of law, Trump can be found legally guilty or not guilty. “Innocent” he’s not.

* Low-caliber pandering: According to the NRA, Trump’s recent speech was his eighth to the gun rights organization.

* “Donald Trump is great, and he has great policies, but I feel—and I know a lot of people feel this way—that DeSantis was a once-in-a-generation, true conservative candidate that could have brought the party back into a different direction.”–Brittany Lyssy, president of the Tampa Bay Young Republicans. Sobering.