- ”To stay out of prison.” The motivation for Trump running again, according to presidential candidate and former Texas GOP Congressman Will Hurd.
- Rudy Giuliani has acknowledged that he made false claims about Georgia election workers committing fraud during the 2020 election. But he’s also arguing that such statements were protected by the First Amendment. Have to wonder what the Founders would say about an Amendment that protects seditious lying.
- “Trump has spent over $60 million on two things: falsely attacking DeSantis and paying his own legal fees, not a cent on defeating Biden.”—Andrew Romeo, DeSantis campaign communications director.
- Trump has warned that if Jack Smith jailed him, it would be “very dangerous.” His followers, declared Trump, have “much more passion than they had in 2020.” And that’s scary; we know how Trump can incite his deplorables, and that what’s past is prologue.
- “If the law is supreme, if no man is above the law, then we have a constitutional republic. And if any man can be above the law, then we don’t.”—Historian Jon Meacham.
- Former VP and Trump acolyte Mike Pence acknowledges that he was asked to do more than “pause” the vote count. More like “overturn the election.”
- It’s more than possible that with all the indictments at play, Trump will become a convicted felon. Ironically, in most states he wouldn’t even be allowed to vote.
- Best Trump outcome: Convicted, sentenced and traded for Alexei Navalny and the WSJ’s Evan Gershkovich.
- “Unless Ukraine prevails, there is no (NATO) membership to be discussed at all.”—Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
- “Vladimir Putin is possibly a psychopath and gives every sign of going out like Al Pacino in ‘Scarface.’”—Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal.
- “The broad mass of a nation … will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.”—Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf.
- “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the people you need to concentrate on.”—Former Democratic Party Leader Robert Strauss.
- “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”—President Ronald Reagan.
- “The only job that Donald Trump could get in this country is president of the United States.”—Tom Nichols, The Bulwark.
- “He’s trading in on Camelot, celebrity, conspiracy theories and conflict for personal gain and fame.”—Jack Schlossberg, grandson of JFK, on the presidential aspirations of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
- “The Sunshine State is now “the nation’s inflation capital.”—Florida Democratic Party Chairperson Nikki Fried.
- “It’s true we bring doctrines to children. But what is the bad of our indoctrination?—Conservative radio host and columnist Dennis Prager, the co-founder of PragerU, which has been approved for the production of videos in civics and government for K-12 students in Florida.
- “She’s (Susan Lopez) an unelected political puppet who occupies that office illegally, and her pretending to uphold the law is a threat to public safety, freedom and democracy.”—Former Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was removed from office by Gov. Ron DiSaster.
- “The challenge now is to take something great and find a way to make it better.”—TIA consultant Pete Ricondo, on the vision for the airport’s master plan for growth over the next 20 years.
- “I said I was hopeful that there was going to be real progress in ’23, and I remain hopeful.”—MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, on Rays’ stadium talks.
It’s become an all-too-familiar query: How did we get here? “Here” being a country rife with heated, hyper-partisan, political division.
The U.S. is a country that has struggled with the original sin of slavery. The U.S. is a country that has tried to balance ideals and hypocritical imperfections. The U.S. is a country riven by a Civil War and presidential assassinations. The U.S. is a country that now encourages the cherry-picking of the Constitution to allow citizen assault weapons and is enamored of bumper sticker ideology about “freedom,” “liberty” and raw, racial nationalism.
But no, we don’t have to go back to 1619 for the roots of fractious reality as we now know it. We could just go back to the time of Father Coughlin, Charles Lindbergh and Madison Square Garden Nazi rallies. Or the Red Scares of the McCarthy era. Or the reign of Dixiecrats, and George Wallace playing the “states’ rights” card. Or SCOTUS tumult. Or Richard Nixon’s less-than-silent “majority.”
“These … right-wing extremists … have been getting away with dirty tactics in American politics
for too long a time.” That wasn’t Nancy Pelosi, but Democratic Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern 50 years ago.
“The state of the union is not good.” That wasn’t Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but President Gerald Ford back in the same day.
So, yes, we’ve seen it coming. And then it all accelerated when Sen. John McCain chose Sarah Palin, to be a heartbeat away from his possible presidency. He green-lighted an alarmingly unqualified right-wingnut who was also an embarrassing insult to women. The presidential-ticket bar wasn’t just low, it was subterranean.
That same year, of course, saw the election of America’s first president of color, Barack Obama. Only it didn’t signal “post racial America.” It rallied a pent-up, racist backlash. In short, all those white Americans who didn’t like their lives and used to find solace and scapegoats in looking down on certain others, were now faced with a president who was one of those “others.” Odious game on: From Tea Partiers to Proud Boys to a cult-figure president who sounded like he was buying a biker-bar round at last call to a Capitol insurrection. Then add ubiquitous, often misinformed media—from social to Fox. And Trump now leads GOP presidential polls—by a lot.
That’s where we are.
* “Democracy will win—if we fight for it.”–Former President Barack Obama.
* Populist Bidenomics pitch: Joe Biden underscored his reputation as an uber pro-labor president by making a Philadelphia union rally the first major political event of his re-election campaign. It enabled him to spotlight the climate, tax and health care package signed into law last year in the context of union endorsement in a key battleground state.
* Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List and NARAL-Pro Choice America have all extended early endorsements of President Biden and VP Kamala Harris. No surprise, but a pragmatic reminder that abortion—and last year’s blindsiding Dobbs v. Jackson ruling—should play a major partisan, base-energizing role in the 2024 election.
* Bollywood at the White House: Penn Masala was part of the WH welcoming ceremony for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Penn Masala is the premier South Asian a cappella group. But, no, it wasn’t quite Doo Wop.
* Secretary of State Antony Blinken notably met with Chinese officials—including President Xi Jinping—to lessen the possibility of a major conflict. Lots of nuanced phrasing. The next day President Biden referred to Xi as a “dictator.” Oops. So much for diplomatic etiquette.
* Given Gavin Newsom’s high national profile, the Dems’ thin bench and his well-chronicled, partisan rivalry with Ron DeSantis, it looks like the California governor is looking at a possible presidential run. He is term-limited after 2026.
Timing, we are again reminded, is everything. Just two years ago Newsom was facing recall. A few years before that, he was married to Kimberly Guilfoyle, former Fox News host and former campaign advisor to Trump who’s now engaged to Donald Trump Jr. Newsom and the rest of us will be hearing about that again.
Deep-sea tourism will never be the same—nor should it. Skydiving never looked so prudent—or inexpensive.
From abortion to affirmative action to public-trust-eroding, VIP treats. Imagine what the mood, atmospherics, and small talk are like around SCOTUS these days. No, you can’t Zoom everything.
* Intelligence can be Artificial, but stupidity is real.
* Why isn’t phonetic spelled with an “f”?
* A word that runs both ways—such as kayak or madam—is a palindrome. Still my favorite: “A man, a plan, a canal—Panama.”
* “If I have one foot in a bucket of hot water and one foot in a bucket of ice, on average I’m comfortable.”–Mark Twain.
* Veterinary hospital sign: “Free Belly Rubs With Exam! Sorry, Pets Only.”
* Give me coffee to change the things I can and wine to accept things I can’t.
* Pamplona: The “Running of the Bulls” is back. Tourists run for social media acclaim; bulls run to their demise in the bull ring. That’s why I root for the bulls.
* What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta.
* Flori-duh reminder: This state still has no restrictions on the sale or ownership of assault weapons.
* Like many governors, Ron DiSaster’s signing of bills is a high-profile, self-serving, staged political event. How interesting that his signing of the law that allows people to carry guns without permits was done in private. Sounds like the calculation of someone running for president who knows that this issue won’t play quite as well nationally.
* The Pasco County School Board has banned the use of cellphones in elementary classrooms. The obvious begged question: What took so long?
* “The politicization of weather”: How Gov. DiSaster recently responded to the issue of climate change and the role of government in combating it.
* Clean energy update: Gov. DiSaster vetoed a bill that would have added electrical vehicles to state and local government fleets. It could have saved the state an estimated $277 million over 15 years. More EVs would create less demand for ethanol, which is processed from corn in such states as the early presidential-caucus Iowa.
* When the Catholic governor goes on the Christian Broadcasting Network to talk religion, he’s courting the all-too-courtable evangelical vote. Too bad hypocrisy isn’t a mortal sin.
* “Gimme Shelter”: Mick Jagger and his girlfriend are selling their home in—the Lakewood Ranch area.
* Pro-choice, anti-DeSantis sign: “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries.”
* “Moms for Liberty”? How about “Mom’s for Self-Serving Censorship Euphemisms”?
* “In Miami, we stopped waiting for Washington to lead.”–Miami Republican Mayor Francis Suarez, in announcing his presidential campaign.
* “Cultivating the arts and realizing a wide range of housing options in Ybor City are two critically important goals for our community.” That was developer Darryl Shaw, who is donating land for the Artspace Tampa project that aims to offer affordable space where artists can live and work.
* “Imagine Clearwater”–with its impressive, new tourist-magnet Coachman Park–has opened. Finally. What’s next? “Imagine Clearwater without Scientology?”
* An independent, Pinellas County-commissioned analysis of a baseball stadium impact on the Tropicana Field site projected the generation of nearly 18,000 sustainable, annual jobs in the county over 30 years.
* Pinellas County is on track to add another 200,000 residents by 2050.
* “There’s always the option of going back to the people of Hillsborough to seek re-election for a third term.” That was former Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren, who was ousted by Gov. DiSaster. You go, Andrew.
* A Tampa-themed Monopoly board game is set to debut early next year under the Hasbro license. Suggestions are welcome. Here’s hoping they all start with Ybor City.
* Not a good sign for the Florida governor when he’s parodied–more than once–in Doonesbury.
* “Euphemisms are never to be ignored. They are rhetorical shields. The interviewer who points them out lays bare the propaganda that hides behind them.”–Ted Koppel.
* Meta’s new app, Threads, is now competing with Twitter. One big difference: The former is not owned by Elon Musk. Mark Zuckerberg never seemed so normal.
* In a recent study, 20 percent of liberal students, 40 percent of moderates and 54 percent of conservatives said they censored themselves in class because they were worried about “critical comments” or social media.