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Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 48
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,702

Journal Archives

My Family and The Galapagos

For those who have the Journy streaming app, I highly recommend watching the subject series. It's a delightful, entertaining, and interesting set of shows about marine biologist Monty Halls (yes, I know...), his wife, and their two very young (and precious) daughters living for a short while on the islands.

I see where Angelyne is on the ballot again...


Yet another indictment shows: Trump made America not great, but vulnerable

The news that Donald Trump’s old friend, fundraiser and head of his 2016 inaugural committee, Thomas J. Barrack, has been indicted on charges of failing to register as a foreign agent and lying to the FBI may not figure large in the vast universe of post-Trump-administration corruption inquiries. But the case has interested me for a specific reason.

If you read the indictment (or material previously revealed by the House Oversight Committee), you see Barrack’s first big test as a conduit for the United Arab Emirates concerned the Trump campaign speechwriting process in May 2016. According to the indictment, Barrack sent a draft copy of a Trump energy policy speech, through a co-defendant, to a UAE official asking for feedback. Barrack received a text message with proposed language from the UAE praising the de facto ruler of the nation, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed. Later that day, according to the indictment, Barrack sent back his revised draft of the speech, including the UAE input. Barrack heard from his associate: “They loved it so much! This is great!”

Barrack sent along his UAE-approved text to the Trump campaign. Zayed’s name was eventually removed, but the speech ended with a pledge “to work with our Gulf allies.” (Material from the Oversight Committee added the detail that Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sent an email to Barrack confirming that the speech “has the language you want.”) Barrack received an email from a UAE official after the speech was delivered: “Congrats on the great job today.”
This pat on the back, this attaboy, from a foreign government on a major campaign speech — as with so many things in the history of Trump-era corruption — is not normal. Not within the same Zip code, the same hemisphere, as normal.


A little schadenfreude and Gov. DeSantis' COVID incompetence

Throughout the COVID pandemic Gov. Ron DeSantis has attempted with some success to portray inertia as virtue. His nonfeasance in refusing to do what he should have been done in terms of mitigating the spread of the virus coupled with his malfeasance in preventing local governments and private businesses from doing what they would have done has served him reasonably well politically. Until now.

Now Florida is ground zero in a COVID explosion that is setting records for cases and hospitalizations, if not yet deaths. And as those doleful numbers have climbed, DeSantis’ poll numbers have fallen, to the point that St. Pete Polls, a well regarded polling operation in Florida that showed DeSantis with a positive 15 percentage point net approval rating in May (55% to 40%), now shows him with a negative 5 percentage point net approval rating (44% to 49%).

Moreover, his double digit leads in May over his potential Democratic opponents in the 2022 gubernatorial race, U.S. Rep. and former Gov. Charlie Crist and Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Nikki Fried, have evaporated, proving once again that it ain’t over until it’s over, particularly in politics.

Not surprisingly, DeSantis and his apologists have been stung into feverish action. What is surprising is how inconsistent and irrational their efforts to deny reality and deflect blame have been.

In fact, they have been conducting a clinic in informal logical fallacies. DeSantis’ press secretary Christina Pushaw, to cite just one example, tweeted that Florida is not going to take the path of California’s mask mandates, because “... lockdowns have destroyed small businesses, decimated the middle class & kept kids out of school for going on 2 years.” This not very subtle sleight of hand, which is an impermissible dialectical shift, equates masking with lockdowns, and then attacks lockdowns, which, even if her premises are true, produces a false conclusion, as no one is proposing lockdowns in Florida. Or in California, for that matter.


St. Pete mayoral candidate Robert Blackmon: Social media posts 'do not reflect who I am'

Blackmon said in a statement Friday that he didn’t know if each of the Facebook posts are “accurate,” but that they are “inappropriate, shameful and embarrassing.”

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayoral candidate and City Council member Robert Blackmon said circulating screenshots of Facebook posts he appeared to make with vulgar and disparaging remarks about women, Asians and tenants “do not reflect who I am today, what I stand for or how I will conduct myself as St. Petersburg’s next mayor.”

The posts include several references to women as a “bitch” and three generations of women, including a 3-year-old, as “sluts.” They also included comments about Asian people and made light of removing tenants from a building.

Blackmon, 32, said in a statement Friday that he didn’t know if each of the Facebook posts are “accurate,” but that they are “inappropriate, shameful and embarrassing.” He characterized the circulation of the posts as repeated threats to his campaign.

“This is a sad, desperate attempt by my opponents who are unnerved by the recent poll numbers reflecting my momentum, and by a former candidate for City Council with an axe to grind,” the statement said. “These Facebook posts appear to be from years ago, while Ken Welch’s characterization of former Mayor Rick Baker as a ‘massa’ was from just last year, during his 20th year in elected office.”


Interesting that the entire article never mentions that Blackmon is a registered Republican.

How Senate Republicans are going to make the next weeks and months hell for all of us

The fight for the nation to have a functioning government and a stable global economy starting Oct. 1 have begun. The debt ceiling, government funding, trying to save democracy and maybe even do something about climate—it's all happening in the next several weeks and it's not going to be pretty. That's because of the death cult nihilists that have half the Senate, led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the guy who actually relishes having the nickname "Grim Reaper."

Let's try to make some sense of everything and how all these moving parts of government are supposed to work. Or not.

The debt ceiling is as good a place to start as any. Congress decided the nation had to have a debt ceiling—a limit on how much debt the Treasury can borrow on behalf of the public—back in 1917 as a way for the Congress to take on public debt to finance government operations and obligations. It was a way to provide blanket authorization for spending so it wouldn't have to authorize specific loans or give the Treasury permission to issue debt instruments—bonds—for every single spending need, including loan obligations to other nations. What was intended to be a means of making government and Congress more efficient of course became a periodic weapon. Under McConnell, it has become a hostage.

In 2019, everyone—even Republicans—rightly thought it would be a good idea to not let the former guy in the White House have that weapon, so they suspended the debt ceiling. They said, basically, whatever Treasury has to do for the next two years is fine with us, we don't need to set that limit. Republicans being Republicans and Democrats letting them get away with it, they decided the thing to do was put that weapon in storage until the middle of the next president's first, critical year in office. Just a little time bomb for what might be a Democratic president next time around—which went off very quietly over the weekend on July 31 when the suspension expired.


Florida education leaders tie mask wearing to 'harassment,' would allow school transfers

TALLAHASSEE – Students subjected to the “harassment” of having to wear masks in class would be eligible to transfer into another public or private school under an emergency rule adopted Friday by the state Board of Education.

The move is the latest thrust by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration against mask mandates endorsed by several Florida school districts on the eve of the start of school, amid one of the nation’s biggest surge in new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“You can’t have more local control than control by a parent,” said Tom Grady, Board chair, during an hour-long, emergency phone meeting Friday.

Hope Scholarships, which could be made available to parents wanting to keep their kids free of face coverings in mask-required districts, have been available to students who have been assaulted or face harassment, hazing or bullying in their schools.


Recently vaccinated Scalise wants voters to know Democrats are to blame for the red-state surge

In case you missed it, the political race is suddenly on to point fingers over the latest coronavirus surge ripping through red states and highlighting the severely lagging vaccination rates among Republican voters in particular.

According to the White House, seven states have accounted for half of all new U.S. COVID-19 cases over the past week: Florida, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. Among that group, Florida and Texas have led the charge, contributing one-third of all new cases. The obvious trend is that nearly every one of those states is run entirely by Republicans. Louisiana is the only outlier, seating a Democratic governor while both state legislative chambers are controlled by Republicans.

Senate Republicans and some governors are now making a sudden push to rewrite history about their own party's malignant disinformation campaign on the vaccines. But some House Republicans are attempting something even more preposterous—blaming Democrats for the vaccine hesitancy and rejection that has flourished in red America.

Chief among them is GOP House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who spent months putting off getting vaccinated before having an abrupt change of heart in late July. As the delta variant started ravaging his state, Scalise was photographed getting the jab. At a press conference several days later, he told reporters, "I would encourage people to get the vaccine. I have high confidence in it. I got it myself."

But quickly adopting a pro-vaccine posture wasn't enough for Scalise. On July 26, he posted a disinformation video claiming, "Democrats have a history of vaccine misinformation and not trusting the science."


U.S. health-care system ranks last among 11 high-income countries, researchers say

The United States has the worst health-care system overall among 11 high-income countries, even though it spends the highest proportion of its gross domestic product on health care, according to research by the Commonwealth Fund.

“We’ve set up a system where we spend quite a bit of money on health care but we have significant financial barriers, which tend to dissuade people from getting care,” said Eric Schneider, the lead author behind the findings and senior vice president for policy and research at the Commonwealth Fund, which conducts independent research on health-care issues.

Researchers compared the health-care systems of 11 high-income countries: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The research relies on 71 performance measures, based on surveys conducted in each country and administrative data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the World Health Organization. The measures analyzed fell under five themes: access to care, the care process, administrative efficiency, equity and health-care outcomes.


Florida students may get school vouchers to avoid wearing masks

TALLAHASSEE – A week after Gov. Ron DeSantis promoted a tough policy banning mandatory masks at Florida schools, state education leaders Thursday looked poised to endorse a softer stand in the face of an uprising by some school districts.

Hope Scholarship vouchers would be made available to parents who don’t want their children wearing masks in school districts that require them, under a proposed policy set for review Friday by the state Board of Education.

With the scholarship, parents who want to avoid mask mandates could transfer their kids to another public school, or get taxpayer-funded seats in a private school where they wouldn’t have to wear face coverings.

The move by the DeSantis administration seems to acknowledge he may not have the authority to reverse recent action by school boards in Duval, Broward and Alachua counties to require masks, and a push by Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna to mandate masks when students return to class next week.


Rewarding vaxxhole parents who want to avoid school district mask mandates is such a DeSantis thing to do. This insanity will not stop until DeSantis is out of office.
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