Dem Notes

  • “I do apologize for the fact that the United States, in the last administration, pulled out of the Paris Accord.”—President Joe Biden at the Glasgow climate change conference.
  • It doesn’t get all the attention that Supreme Court nominations attract, but there’s an important box soon to be checked by President Joe Biden. He has an opportunity to appoint two new members of the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors and renew—or not—the chair and vice chair. Commitments to keeping prices in check and employment stable are major day-to-day challenges. Scenarios such as the financial markets’ impact on climate change are among other critically important priorities.
  • The Biden Administration is canceling two environmental rollbacks from the Trump years dealing with endangered species rules. Industry groups and Congressional GOPsters have long viewed the Endangered Species Act as an impediment to economic development.
  • “Democrats can leapfrog the Right with significant investments in streaming video, podcasting, newsletters and innovative content producers on growing platforms like Tik-Tok, whose audiences dwarf those of cable news networks like Fox News.”—David Brock, the founder of Media Matters for America and American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic super PAC.

COVID Bits

  • The UN World Health Organization has backed a goal of 40 percent global vaccinations this year—and 70 percent in 2022.
  • Vaccines are recommended—even for adults and children who previously contracted COVID. It’s unclear how well natural immunity protects against new infection and how long it lasts.
  • Only Maine, New York and Rhode Island have vaccine mandates for health care workers that lack religious exemptions.
  • According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, undergraduate enrollment—from the fall of 2019 to this semester—the number of undergraduate students has fallen by 6.5 percent.
  • “The main reason to authorize vaccines for young kids is not an altruistic one of safe-guarding other vulnerable people; it’s to protect the kids themselves.”—CNN medical analyst Dr. Leana S. Wen, former health commissioner of Baltimore.
  • More than 5 million eligible Floridians remain unvaccinated.
  • Florida is still the only state that updates its COVID caseloads and data just once a week.
  • Bribe vibe: Pinellas County commissioners have approved a program to pay $750 to each county employee who gets vaccinated.

Florida

  • The University of Florida has refused to allow three political science professors to continue to serve as expert witnesses in a case that understandably challenges a new state law restricting voting access. UF officials had cited a “conflict of interest” and said it was “adverse to UF interests as a state of Florida institution.”

Whatever the skewed-priority rationales, there are two cut-to-the-chase bottom lines. First, the blindsiding and chilling of academic freedom. It’s as ironic as it is unconscionable that a major public university would be on the wrong side of a free speech, censorship, prior restraint and academic freedom issue. Universities are not mere bureaucratic entities forced to align with whoever just got elected. And it hardly helps that Gov. Ron DeSantis, the Florida avatar of voter suppression, has some Gainesville allies, including Morteza Hosseini, the head of UF’s board of trustees, a major GOP donor and DeSantis adviser. Second, this is an imperiling affront to democratic ideals that depend existentially on access to voting by “we the people.”

  • The state unemployment rate: now at 4.9 percent.
  • No surprise that Attorney General Ashley Moody supported Texas’ last-ditch attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 election. It’s what we’ve come to expect from a DeSantis AG. What was rather surprising were reports of staff members who ridiculed her decision and flimsy legal rationales as “weird” and “bat…t insane.” But Pam Bondi would approve.
  • Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said—on Fox News—that he wants out-of-state police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help patrol the state. For motivation, they could get $5,000 bonuses to relocate. Sounds like, among other things, a wink-and-nod to cops with a problem getting vaccinated or making their vaxx status known.
  • “A heavy-handed mandate never authorized by Congress.” That’s how Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody characterized the U.S. government regulation that requires federal contractors to show proof of vaccination or weekly COVID tests of their employees. The governor and the AG have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government over the protocols.
  • Earlier this summer, Florida led the nation in new COVID cases—approximately 22,000 a day. Last week it was 1,800—the lowest new-case rate.
  • “What’s not going to happen anymore is a Democratic Party that gets its field operation stood up only for each election, that limits its work and hopes in winning blue counties to get us over the top. It starts now.”—Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz.

Tampa Bay

  • For three straight weeks, Tampa Bay–even without much international travel—has ranked No. 1 among major markets in hotel occupancy. Its (Oct. 23) 68.5 percent occupancy rate is just 3.1 percent short of the 2019 numbers.
  • Outgoing St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman was a delegate of the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Kriseman chairs the Conference’s environmental committee. (St. Pete has committed to achieve 100 percent renewable energy with zero emissions by 2035.)

Media Matters

  • Now streaming on Netflix: “Squid Game.” It has made the service’s biggest debut ever. It’s a dystopian fantasy steeped in carnage. Apparently four years of Donald Trump wasn’t enough.
  • Existential crisis marketing: Facebook is rebranding itself and will now be known as “Meta.” It will encompass a virtual-reality vision for the future. An even more appropriate name: “Monetize.”
  • Amazon spent $11 billion last year on entertainment programming, a 41 percent hike from the previous year.
  • Facebook: Approximately 2.8 billion users; nearly 70 percent of Americans have an account.

Musings

Editors have added a bunch of new words and definitions to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Having lived through a life- and life-style changing pandemic, it’s understandable that “vaccine passport” and “superspreader” would be included. And modern media consumption lends itself to “digital nomads.” And any guy past his prime is no longer ripped—but encased in a “dad bod.” But “fluffernutter”? That’s a peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich. For what it’s worth, Mitt Romney once celebrated a birthday with one. Or maybe WTF now has another application.

Sports Shorts

  • In 1986 more than 18 percent of MLB players were African-American. These days it’s 7 percent.
  • Rays’ update: Nelson Cruz has been named MLB’s 2021 Roberto Clemente Award winner. The award is given to the player who best exemplifies community involvement, philanthropy and sportsmanship. And the Rays’ Kevin Cash was named the American League’s top manager for the third consecutive year.
  • Talk is heating up about the Atlanta Braves “tomahawk chop” and how it’s indigenously insulting. Ironic that this is much more an Atlanta issue than the place where it began: Florida State University, home of the Seminoles. Maybe it’s because FSU contributes a percentage of paraphernalia sales to the Seminole Tribe and provides a curricular place for Seminole history. In short, FSU inclusively salutes–rather than cluelessly mimics–its Seminole roots. But it would help if the football team were better.

Trumpster Diving

  • “So nobody has done more for Christianity, or for evangelicals, or for religion itself, than I have.”—Excerpt from Donald Trump’s interview with Gene Bailey on The Victory Channel, where “prophecy and current events align.” In short, if you’re going to lie, do it religiously.
  • “Jan. 6 was just a riot at the Capitol, and if you think about what our Declaration of Independence says, it says to overthrow tyrants.” That was Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s rewrite of reality in a recent appearance on a Steve Bannon podcast.
  • However this Jan. 6 inquiry plays out legally with the House and DOJ, this much is manifestly obvious: Steve Bannon is contemptible.
  • “100 percent”: The chance that Donald Trump will run again in 2024, according to former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus.
  • (Marco Rubio) was saying (in 2015-16) that Donald Trump was unqualified, unfit to be president, and I applauded that, so I was shocked when he endorsed Donald Trump. And now he’s become more Trumpy over time, and he actually is emulating Trump and a lot of his cheap-shot attacks on the media.”—Former Rubio adviser Max Boot.
  • “Critical Race Theory is nothing more than state-sponsored racism, and it should be opposed by every American of every race, color or creed in every school in the land.”—That was former Vice President Mike Pence out on the GOPster hustings hoping to stay viable—just in case—for 2024. BTW, Pence has a new advocacy group: Advancing American Freedom.
  • Trick or Tweet: Yeah, that was Donald Trump doing a tomahawk chop at a World Series game in Atlanta on the eve of Halloween. Perhaps it was a nuanced “Stop the Steal” shout-out to his minions or a “Take that, left-leaning, indigenous tribes” message.
  • On his website, Donald Trump Jr. is selling T-Shirts ($27.99) with the tagline: “Guns Don’t Kill People, Alex Baldwin Kills People.” Despicable, even for a Trump.

Quoteworthy

  • “This is a human rights obligation and a matter of survival. Without a healthy planet to live on, there will be no human rights–and if we continue on our current path—there may be no humans.”—Michelle Bachelet, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • “People, Planet, Prosperity.”—The slogan for the recent Group of 20 summit in Rome.
  • “What we saw was a very significant event … very concerning.”—Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the joint chiefs, on China’s recent test of a hypersonic weapons system.”
  • “I’m totally out of sync with 48 other Democrats, I love them all. And I love all the Republicans. So I’m just trying to survive in a very, very, very divided Congress in a very divided country.”—Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
  • “The corporate wing of the Democratic Party: Can we stop calling them ‘moderates’”?—Paul Krugman, NYT.
  • “It’s sad but not surprising that Kevin McCarthy is continuing down the morally bankrupt path of embracing House Republicans who are white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, but attacking Liz Cheney for telling the truth and standing for the Constitution.”—Rep. Liz Cheney spokesman Jeremy Adler.
  • “Democrats want to track every penny you earn so they can then tax you and your family at the maximum possible amount.”—House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
  • “Solving the climate crisis provides an incredible opportunity to grow good-paying jobs, lower costs for consumers and improve the air we breathe.”—Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
  • “Part of this oncoming green tidal wave hitting the U.S.”—Daniel Ives, technology analyst at Wedbush Securities, on the announcement by Hertz that it will buy 100,000 electric vehicles from Tesla.
  • “Changing their name (to “Meta”) doesn’t change reality: Facebook is destroying our democracy and is the world’s leading peddler of disinformation and hate.”—Statement from the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a watchdog group.
  • “I find that appalling. In over 600 films and TV shows that I’ve done, we’ve never had a live round on set.”—Movie weapons specialist Mike Tristano, on the accidental shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of the Western “Rust.”
  • “The rise of corporate wokeness.”—What Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized in his keynote speech at the annual meeting of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
  • “Thirty-five years ago, we opened our doors to our first patients. It was a glorious occasion that warms my heart to this day.”—H. Lee Moffitt, founder of Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute.

“Tampa continues to prove that it’s an ideal location for innovative tech companies looking for diverse, technical talent.”—Mayor Jane Castor, on the announcement that Boston-based cybersecurity analytics company Rapid7 will open an office at the shared workspace at Sparkman Wharf.           

McCain-Palin Upshot

In her currently-being-promoted audio memoir, Meghan McCain criticizes those in her father’s 2008 presidential campaign who treated Sarah Palin “really horribly. Set her up for failure.” Actually, thank you Nicole Wallace of MSNBC, who was part of the McCain campaign. She facilitated the infamous interview of Palin by Katie Couric, which essentially unmasked Palin as an embarrassingly clueless candidate.

And let’s not forget the unforgiveable, which McCain’s daughter seemingly has. It was John McCain’s call to put the unconscionably unprepared, uninformed Palin on a ticket, which was flat-out dangerous, plus an insulting sop to female voters. The ripple-effect reality: McCain’s choice helped pave the way for Donald Trump. When the bar is subterranean low for a presidential-ticket candidate, anything is possible. Couple that with a Trump base-affronting African-American on the other ticket, we had the perfect storm–that we haven’t recovered from.