Media Matters

* The horrific, Buffalo mass murder was streamed on Twitch. While the platform acted quickly to remove it, it was quickly shared across the internet. No wonder social media platforms are facing increased scrutiny about their content moderation policies.

* “Many Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, are upset about the current state of libel law. They believe it is too friendly to media defendants.”–Clay Calvert, law and journalism professor at UF.

* Netflix is planning a series of comedy specials called “Greatest Roasts of All Time”–or “GROAT.” As for “GOAT”–aka Tom Brady–he’ll be part of it and first up.


* Years ago Illinois Sen. Everett Dirkson offered notably sound advice to his son-in-law, Howard Baker, who had recently been elected senator from Tennessee and had just given a rather windy maiden speech in the Senate. “Perhaps you should occasionally allow yourself the luxury of an unexpressed thought.”

* Doctors have prescribed a wheelchair, cane and physical therapy to help heel Pope Francis’ bad knee. The Pope, 85, smiled through the pain and quipped that a shot of tequila would be enough. What would Jesus say? “Cheers”?

Sports Shorts

* Champa update: Congrats to Jesuit High, which won the state (Class 5A) baseball championship for the sixth time. It was also Jesuit’s third state championship—along with football and wrestling—this school year.

* Since the Supreme Court ruling four years ago cleared the way for legal sports gambling outlets, Americans have bet more than $125 billion on sports. Two thirds of the states have legalized sports betting.

* The Lightning, now back in the Stanley Cup final four, has been named Sports Business Journal’s “Sports Team of the Year.” Criteria include attendance and new-season ticket and sponsorship revenue.

Trumpster Diving

* Steve Bannon’s GOPster priority: “Taking over the Republican Party through the precinct committee strategy. … It’s about winning elections with the right people—MAGA people. We will have our people in at every level.”

* Twenty-seven states will choose a secretary of state this fall, and in more than half at least one of the Republicans actively denies that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election.

* “Trump’s real goal isn’t to expand the Republican Party but to solidify his control over it.”–Jonah Goldberg, Tribune Content Agency.

* The Russian Foreign Ministry has officially banned 963 Americans—an eclectic mix ranging from President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton to Mark Zuckerberg and the actor Morgan Freeman—from entering Russia. Chances are, they all took it well. But, no, Donald Trump is not on that banned list.

* “The extent to which election denialism and pro-insurrectionism are now litmus tests for Republican politicians is clearly attributable to Trump’s huge influence over the Republican Party.”–Jamelle Bouie, NYT.

* Talk about awkward. George P. Bush, 46, the son of Jeb Bush, nephew of George W. Bush and grandson of George H.W. Bush, is running for attorney general of Texas—and has aligned himself with Trump and his followers.

* “It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to.”–Lesley Gore. “It’s my party, and I’ll lie if I want to.”–Donald Trump.


* “In America, evil will not win, I promise you. Hate will not prevail, white supremacy will not have the last word.”–President Joe Biden, speaking to victims’ families, local officials and first responders in Buffalo, N.Y.

* “At first, the Western support for Ukraine was mainly designed to defend against the invasion. It is now set on a far grander ambition: to weaken Russia itself.”–Tom Stevenson, NYT.

* “We want to know what’s out there as much as you want to know what’s out there.”–Ronald Moultrie, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Lawmakers from both parties say UFOs are a national security concern.

* “Tossing the issue back to the states, as the Alito draft proposes, will not bring the country any closer to a resolution on abortion rights—it will just open up 50 new fronts in the fight.”–Ronald J. Granieri, history professor at the U.S. Army War College.

* “Ron DeSantis is the new Republican Party. … What stands out as a true departure is Mr. DeSantis’ willingness to use government power in the culture war. … Mr. DeSantis is the hottest thing in national Republican politics right now and he is doing everything to lay the groundwork, assuming he wins re-election this year, to run for president.”–Rich Lowry, National Review editor.

* “There’s two types of members of Congress. There’s performance artists and legislators. The performance artists are the ones that get all the attention, the ones you think are more conservative because they know how to say slogans real well, they know how to recite the lines that they know our voters want to hear. …We have grifters in our midst … in the conservative movement. Lie after lie after lie.”–Congressman Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas.

* “In 2020, the plan of Trump and his allies hinged ultimately on getting state legislatures to overturn the will of the voters. If past is prologue, that same strategy is likely to be central to efforts to subvert an election in the future.”–Ben Berwick, counsel at Project Democracy.

* “Something is changing among Trump supporters. … (They) need Trump’s policies, but (they) don’t need him. … ‘Trump establishment?’ That’s the sound of something shifting.”–Peggy Noonan, WSJ.

* “Nicolas Maduro is a tyrant and a thug. … Easing sanctions on Venezuela will empower Maduro and cronies, hurting Venezuelans who are struggling for freedom and democracy.”–Florida Democratic congresswoman Val Demings, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

* “In the United States, rather than increasing trust in government, the relatively mild pandemic public-health measures instituted by the CDC and state governments only inflamed America’s ‘freedom’ fetish.”–Nina Burleigh, The Nation.

* “No elected officials will be more pivotal to protecting democracy—or subverting it—than secretaries of state. … (They) own the bully pulpit on voting, and they control the machinery of elections.”–University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade.

* “(You’ve got) a country where ‘Critical Race Theory’ is banned by law, but you can learn ‘great replacement theory’ by turning on Fox. Where voting keeps getting harder and gun ownership easier.”—Leonard Pitts, Miami Herald.

* “(Buffalo shooter) Payton Gendron isn’t mentally ill. He isn’t ‘troubled,’ nor is he just a misguided teen. … The truth is that he’s simply hateful in the same way that right-wing politics have instructed him to be.”–Brian Broome, Washington Post.

* “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”–President James Madison.

* “Recession risks are high. … For the economy to navigate through without suffering a downturn, we need some very deft policymaking from the Fed and a bit of luck.”–Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

* The fight over congressional districts now shifts from the statehouse to the courthouse.”–Ben Diamond, a St. Petersburg Democrat and a member of the Florida House.

* “The hotel business has been around since Mary and Joseph couldn’t get a room, but the landscape has changed dramatically.”–Julianne Corlew, vice president and business partner of Mainsail Lodging & Development. Mainsail is partnering with USF for student hospitality training.

* “It’s clearly a special place, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead such a vibrant campus.”–Christian Hardigree, newly named regional chancellor of USF St. Petersburg.

Freedom-Brand Tower

When Ron DeSantis uses the Miami Freedom Tower as a backdrop, you know something’s coming other than an announcement of upcoming innovations. It’s too gratuitously symbolic. So, that’s where he announced that he was approving a bill (HB395) that will require public school students to observe “Victims of Communism Day” on Nov. 7 each year. In vintage DeSantis hyperbole, he labeled it a “blockbuster day for freedom.” Also under the law, a curriculum about various Communist regimes throughout history will be added to high school U.S. government courses.

But it might be perversely good news for those nostalgic for the Cold War McCarthy era and its Red Scare and Lavender Scare witch hunts. Could “Americanism vs. Communism” social studies classes be resurrected in Florida high schools? Could we see shout-outs to the Johns’ Committee for protecting Floridians from subversive activities–if not disingenuous, would-be autocrats? Nothing, we are effectively reminded by Gov. DeSantis, is now off the table when the political agenda is the calculated misappropriation of “freedom” and “liberty” in the portentous era of Trump and his cult followers.

Dem Notes

* “I believe that inflation is our top economic challenge right now. I think they (the Federal Reserve) do too.”–President Joe Biden.

* “Dangerous changes are taking place in the moral fiber of American society. To meet the challenge of our times—so that we can later look back upon this era not as one of which we need be ashamed but as a turning point on the way to a better America, we must first defeat the enemy within.” That was Robert F. Kennedy from the late 1950s, when he was chief counsel for the famed McClellan Committee that investigated corruption in organized labor. That was more than a half century removed from the raw nativism and faux freedom now polarizing America. Call it RFK’s spoiler alert for what we’ve been going through. Only the “enemy within” isn’t Jimmy Hoffa.

* “High speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity.”–President Joe Biden, in announcing that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes.

* Angry protests at certain SCOTUS justices’ homes—however desperately tempting—should not be carried out. They actually sabotage the cause with accompanying cringe-worthy optics. It makes them look more like generic punks than women’s rights’ activists. It’s an invasion of privacy—however ironic that is. The cause of female autonomy deserves better than enabling made-for-GOPster, mid-term campaign ads.

Bottom line: Dems need to rally around this issue—not rail on around Sammy Alito’s house.

* “With Trump no longer in the White House and Biden’s approval ratings under water, the electability message is falling flat in Democratic primaries.”–Amy Walter of The Cook Report, on the Dems’ restive base.

* According to a new Pew Research Center survey, 70 percent of Americans view inflation as a “very big problem,” one that far outdistances every other issue.

* VP Kamala Harris has already cast the third-most tie-breaking Senate votes in history.


* North Korea has reported an outbreak, one referred to as a “most serious national emergency” by state media. Hardly coincidental for a country that has not administered any coronavirus vaccines.

* Four cadets at the Air Force Academy may not graduate or be commissioned as military officers this month because they have refused to get vaccinated.

* Total U.S. population that is boosted: 30 percent. Total Florida population that is boosted: 26 percent.

* The average Florida cases a day during the week of May 7-13: 5,628—a 20 percent increase from the previous week.

* Positivity: Florida—13.9 percent; Hillsborough County—9.9 percent.


* State Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, is next in line to lead the House Democratic caucus now that Rep. Ramon Alexander—slated to be the next leader—has announced that he will not seek re-election in 2022. Rep. Alexander has been accused of sexual harassment.

He had been seen as a rising star in Florida Democratic politics. Now he’s seen as a reminder of the unforced errors that helped derail the political future of Andrew Gillum, who narrowly lost the gubernatorial race to Ron DeSantis in 2018.

* “It diminishes African-Americans’ ability to elect representatives of their choice.”–Judge J. Layne Smith, a Ron DeSantis appointee to the 2nd Circuit Court of Florida, on his rationale for the unconstitutionality of Florida’s new congressional map.

* The Democrats have pledged $15 million to mobilize voters and unify the party. The Blue Shift Florida” challenge: The perception that the Sunshine State is a money pit for donors, a recent gap in registered voters, ongoing Republican dominance of the state Legislature and a Fox-friendly governor with an ever-increasing national brand.

* The libertarian Cato Institute ranks Florida the second-most free state in the country (after New Hampshire). Tax, spending, regulatory policies—as well as COVID autonomy and an anti-“Woke,” pro-freedom brand have everything to do with it.

* “I look forward to what the future holds.” That was as close as Laurel Lee got to explaining why she stepped down as Florida’s secretary of state. In short, it would have been awkward to explain that she prioritized running for a Tampa Bay area congressional seat.

* Florida’s definition of Critical Race Theory: A concept that “Racism is embedded in American society and its legal system in order to uphold the supremacy of white persons.” Too bad the state isn’t more interested in understanding and combating racism than in defiantly dismissing it.

* Gov. Ron DeSantis: You know you’ve arrived as a societal force when you are satirized in Doonesbury.

Tampa Bay

* For the third consecutive month, Hillsborough County reported record-setting tourist tax collections. The numbers, as reported by Visit Tampa Bay, topped $5 million in February, $6 million in March and $7 million in April. “To pass (those thresholds) is an incredible achievement,” said Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago Corrada.

* The pre-game atmosphere before Game 6 between the Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs was more than the usual local chanting, drum-banging and imbibing. A “Reckless Ron” airplane banner appeared about 5 p.m. as fans gathered at Amalie Arena. The banner-tugging plane was flown by the advocacy groups For Our Future and Coronavirus War Room. They later issued a joint press release: “While DeSantis continues to rake in cash for spreading hatred, the people of Florida have been left to fend for themselves.”