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.

COVID Bits

* 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.

Florida

* 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.”

Foreign Affairs

* “We will speak softly and carry a large javelin.”–President Joe Biden, invoking and updating Teddy Roosevelt.

* “You cannot build Europe as a power without America, because you lose half of Europeans if you try. The unity of the West is the key to the unity of Europe.”–French political scientist Dominique Moisi.

* “Russia’s war of aggression has generated one of the most severe food and energy crises in recent history, which now threatens those most vulnerable across the globe.”–From a statement from the Group of 7, the leaders of the world’s wealthiest democracies.

* Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says he will be a no-show next month at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles if all Latin American nations are not invited. The U.S. has not invited the democratically-problematic countries of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Media Matters

* “The war in Ukraine does not have anything to do with Ukraine. The war in Ukraine was designed to cause regime change in Moscow.” That was *ucker Carlson of Fox News. Yes, it has played well in Russia.

* “Disney says its streaming platform, Disney+, has been adding subscribers—thus avoiding a Netflix-like collapse.

Sports Shorts

* You know a sports franchise—such as the Lightning—is very successful when playoff disappointment means no dynasty.

* “Excited, but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the (Bucs).”–Tom Brady, on signing a 10-year, NFL analyst deal with Fox Sports that will kick in upon his retirement.