Diane Roberts – Florida Politics

Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts teaches at Florida State University. Her latest book, “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America,” will be out in paperback in the fall.

Diane Roberts: What Donald Trump means by ‘looking presidential’

According to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton does not appear presidential. As he remarked in an ABC television interview last week: “Well, I just don’t think she has a presidential look, and you need a presidential look.”

A presidential look. Hmm. Let’s think this through.

Could it be the hands? Everyone knows presidents should have small hands and her hands are on the large side.

Could it be the ties? She doesn’t even wear a tie! You know who else doesn’t wear a tie? Fidel Castro. Kim Jong Un. And that Iranian guy.

What about the lipstick? Have you ever seen a president in lipstick? Other than Ronald Reagan that time.

Maybe it’s the smiling. She doesn’t do enough of it. George Washington was a big smiler, you know, rocking those wooden teeth.

Of course, you could say she smiles too much. Not dignified. Much better to affect a sphincterish pout.

And what’s with that hair? OK, it’s blond (Thomas Jefferson was a blond), and styled and everything, but when the wind blows, it, like, moves.

Everyone knows presidential hair should not budge during public appearances. Presidential hair should have the gravitas that comes from Extra Firm Hold hair spray and/or staples. Donald Trump’s hair only moves at night, when he lets it loose to hunt small animals for food.

Even Hillary Clinton’s insults are lame and thus unpresidential. “Basket of Deplorables”?  Jeez Louise, what is she, some kind of professor?

Here’s how a truly presidential person applies the old verbal slap-down: refer to Sen. Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas;” ridicule John McCain for being a POW; call Megyn Kelly “lightweight” and a “bimbo.” Say Ruth Bader Ginsburg is senile, David Brooks is an idiot, and Michael Bloomberg is short.

And for good measure, disparage a Gold Star family who happens to be Muslim, diss a crying baby, label Mexicans “rapists” and “murderers,” and make fun of Serge Kovaleski, a New York Times reporter who suffers from arthrogryposis.

Side note: Ann Coulter insists Donald Trump wasn’t making fun of Kovaleski, he was merely “doing standard retard.” But Trump rejects the very notion of “standard.” I happen to think if Trump was “doing” a “retard,” it would be the most retarded, HUGELY retarded, luxury retarded, the absolutely best retarded act anyone has ever seen in the history of the planet.

Back to that unpresidential Hillary, which is to say: pneumonia. Who ever heard of a president with pneumonia? Grover Cleveland had gout. JFK suffered from Addison’s disease so bad he got hooked on opioids. Taft was morbidly obese. Abraham Lincoln got smallpox. Andrew Jackson had rotting teeth, migraines, bleeding in his lungs, and pain from the bullet wounds he got in two separate duels. He was also as crazy as a cut snake.

But he didn’t have pneumonia. Only William Henry Harrison got pneumonia, and we all remember what a disaster he was.

Remember when Trump said this about Carly Fiorina? “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve detected a slight resemblance between Hillary Clinton and Carly Fiorina. Can’t quite put my finger on it. Clinton’s eyes are bigger. Fiorina is taller. Clinton’s a D; Fiorina is an R  …

Call me crazy — and definitely unpresidential — but I think what Trump means when he says Clinton lacks that “presidential look” is really that she lacks a penis.

Women don’t play football. Women don’t join the infantry. Women don’t become president — except for when they do.


Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at FSU.

Diane Roberts: Donald Trump feels presidency is ‘man’s job’

Hillary Clinton is sick.

Important white men-types, such as Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity, and Donald Trump, say so.

She sits down at some of her campaign appearances — ON A STOOL! Or with a PILLOW BEHIND HER BACK! Clearly, her spine is disintegrating before our very eyes. She has Parkinson’s. A blood clot. A brain tumor. She has no stamina. She’s feeble. She has fits, seizures, rolling her eyes around and laughing.

Or she’s possessed by demons.

Giuliani: Now, there’s an hombre! His intellect is so honed, so energetic, so like a cheetah about to pounce on a gazelle, that at a recent campaign event, he forgot 9/11. Which happened while he was mayor of New York.

Last week, he praised Republicans thus: “Under those eight years before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack in the United States. They all started when Clinton and Obama got into office.”

Giuliani’s been all over television, insisting that the press ignores the obvious fact that Clinton is Not Long for This World.

Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson, she of the necklace made of bullets and the assertion that “Obama invaded Afghanistan,” went on CNN and concurred: she diagnosed Clinton with “dysphasia,” a language disorder resulting from brain damage.

You will have noticed that Hillary Clinton can barely string three words together while Pierson’s boss is a silver-tongued master of Ciceronian rhetoric.

Donald Trump says Clinton sleeps all the time. She takes “too many naps.” Trump only needs three or four hours of shut-eye. No naps. He says himself: “no naps for Trump!”

Only losers and weaklings nap. But here’s the thing about womenfolk: they are always sick.

When they’re young, the monthly cycles make them moody and weird. When they get pregnant, the rampant hormones invade their brains, turning them pretty much crazy. Then it’s the menopause, attacking what little rationality they have left.

After that, it’s downhill into dementia.

You can’t allow one of them to become the most powerful person on the planet.

There was a movie about this very thing: it came out in 1964 and was called “Kisses for My President.” Polly Bergen plays the first woman president; Fred MacMurray is her husband, the First Gentleman.

What ensues is, to put it in Trumpian terms: A Disaster!

Madam President spends so much time on working with Congress, containing dangerous dictators and dealing with the Russians, she doesn’t even notice that her daughter’s running around with an unsuitable boy, and her emasculated husband, installed in an office with ruffled curtains and other girlie stuff, nearly runs off with an old flame.

It’s chaos. Until one day this bad mother of a president faints, and it is revealed she’s pregnant. She resigns (because hormones, obvs) and the natural order is restored.

There’s a reason why American women were not allowed to vote until 100 years ago (the anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s final passage is Aug. 26), despite all that stuff about equality and democracy in our founding documents.

Because they’re weak. Their uteruses tell them what to do. They get hysterical — that’s from the Greek word for uterus! They’re not strong-minded. Peter Thiel, the gazillionaire founder of PayPal and Trump delegate, thinks it’s a pity women ever got the franchise, since they turn around and vote for welfare, disaster relief, the environment, other women. Bunch of suckers.

Or else they’re unfeminine. When Donald Trump divorced his first wife Ivana, he said it was because she no longer had her “softness.” She’d become “an executive, not a wife.”

Trump left her, as he told Vanity Fair magazine, for “a piece of ass — a good one!” but when the POA (aka Marla Maples) took to working outside the home, he balked again: “When I come home and dinner’s not ready, I go through the roof.”

Yeah, women are just too emotional and petty to be president. Especially Hillary Clinton.

A female Trump voter at a recent rally clarified it for Daily Show reporter Jordan Klepper and the rest of us: “The presidency is a man’s job,” she said. “A female has more hormones. She could start a war in 10 seconds.”

Ladies, don’t you just want to go lie down? Maybe take a Valium?


Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at FSU.

Diane Roberts: Will Joe Negron make Everglades deal happen? Maybe.

As the old Vulcan proverb goes, “Only Nixon could go to China.” Maybe only Joe Negron can make an Everglades land deal happen.

Negron, the incoming state Senate president and a conservative Republican, wants to acquire 60,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee, land that would help clean up the filthy, nutrient-choked lake water currently sliming South Florida from Fort Pierce to Cape Coral.

Using Amendment One money, the state would pay for half (about $1.2 billion), and the federal government would pay for the other half. Big Ag and Big Shug and the other landowners would get some cash, and instead of pumping dirty Okeechobee water east and west toward the coasts — where its toxic algae wrecks beaches, kills fish, stinks to high heaven and is hazardous to your health — the nasty stuff would get cleaned before becoming part of the natural flow of the Everglades.

Win-win, right? No brainer, yeah?

But wait, this is Florida. Some of our politicians actually lack brains. Scientific fact! Greg Evers, a Pensacola state senator now running for Congress, and Mike Hill, a Pensacola state rep now running for Evers’s Senate seat, have pitched a hissy fit over Negron’s proposal, vowing to “stand up for North Florida’s water and North Florida taxpayers.”

Evers, whose idea of honoring the Orlando nightclub victims was to raffle off an AR-15 a few days after the shootings, claims Negron’s proposal “discounts” other environmental projects — as if cleaning up South Florida is some kind of attack on North Florida.

Not that he’s into environmental projects: Evers fought against septic tank inspections and argued for Big Sewage’s right to spread the aromatic contents of pumped-out septic tanks on land, allowing it to seep merrily down into ground water, rivers and springs.

Also claiming membership in the Missing Grey Matter Club, Sen. Marco Rubio, who says he doesn’t support buying the land until the Central Everglades Planning Project is finished — in a mere 24 years. And the South Florida Water Management District: now a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Sugar, headed by Rick Scott’s personal Attack Gecko, Peter Antonacci.

Younger readers may not believe this, but there was a time when Republicans were Florida’s best environmentalists. These days conservatives no longer want to conserve things.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran says he’ll review Negron’s proposal with “seriousness and respect.”

That would be an improvement on how the House normally deals with Florida’s environment. Remember how Floridians voted in 2014 to designate a nice chunk of change from the doc stamp tax for buying conservation lands? The Legislature evidently does not.

As for the governor, he’s busy raising money for Donald Trump and whining that the toxic algae is all the fault of the federal government.

But these people better pay attention: Negron is onto something. Buying land south of the lake is not merely the right thing to do for water quality — more than eight million people rely on Lake Okeechobee for their drinking water — it’s politically astute, too.

Pictures of snot-green algae washing up on our once-pretty sands have horrified the planet. The University of Florida’s wonderfully named Tourism Crisis Management Initiative has done a study showing that almost three-fourths of potential visitors to Florida would balk at vacationing any place south of Disney, while more than half express doubts about coming to Florida at all.

That’s going to cost us money. Which will terrify businesses. Which will, in turn, translate into lost campaign contributions.

Joe Negron’s constituents in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties are outraged over the state of their waters: the dying estuaries, the fish kills, the closed beaches, the health risks, the diminishing property values.

He may well have become a good environmentalist. Or maybe he has statewide ambitions and wants to be known as responsive to voters. It doesn’t matter. Though he’s got a tough row to hoe in the Legislature, what with many of his colleagues thinking public land ownership is un-American, he’s doing the right thing.

Perhaps when Donald Trump finally melts down — or just melts, like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz — Florida Republicans will be released from his evil spell, and they’ll start to give a damn about the water that gives this state life.

Perhaps even Rick Scott will get a clue and stop sucking up to big polluters. If he wants to run against Bill Nelson for a U.S.Senate seat in 2018, he’d better.


Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at FSU.

Diane Roberts: Nature at war with Florida — thanks, Rick Scott!

The streets of Miami and Fort Lauderdale flood on a distressingly regular basis; the drinking water in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties is getting salty; mosquitoes infect you with Zika; toxic algae in our rivers, lakes and seas will give you a hideous rash, attack your nervous system, and impair your liver.

Nature has declared war on Florida.

Thanks, Rick Scott.

To be fair, our desperate environmental straits are not entirely this governor’s fault. Dumping filthy runoff into our waters goes back decades: Democratic and Republican governors, as well as bought-and-paid-for legislators, all keen on pimping Florida to Big Sugar, Big AG and Big Developer, generally prefer power to principle.

Letting polluters pollute is the price of getting elected in Florida.

But no governor in modern times has been so hostile to science or so clueless about Florida’s complex ecology as Rick Scott, a man who gets off his air-conditioned plane into an air-conditioned car and drives to air-conditioned rooms.

The Environmental Regulation Commission, its members appointed by Rick Scott, just voted to increase allowed pollutants in our water, including carcinogens and noisome stuff produced by pulp plants, dry cleaners, sewage treatment plants and (just a coincidence!) fracking.

Shocking? Not for this governor. He destroyed Florida’s only growth management agency when he dismantled the Department of Community Affairs — DCA often stopped the most rapacious and destructive projects, including a marina in Taylor County which would have wrecked an aquatic preserve, high-rise condos in Palm Beach County, parked on a fragile barrier island, and commercial development in Dade County which would have encroached on the Everglades.

Scott packed the state’s water management districts with business types and “downsized” by firing scientists.

He let it be known that no one connected to his regime should utter the words “climate change,” though sea levels are rising, temperatures are rising, and South Florida is inundated with ever more frequent “king tides.” He decided DEP’s mission should not be environmental protection but the encouragement of profit über alles — and fired more scientists.

And speaking of firing scientists, Scott cut mosquito research and control by 40 percent. He and the Republican-ruled Legislature raided the trust fund which was supposed to pay for dealing with skeeters and the unpleasant viruses they bring for more “urgent” priorities.

You know, like tax cuts for the rich.

Yet once Zika crossed the Straits of Florida, he started bellowing about how Barack Obama is to blame for not giving us enough money to fight it. Just like he blamed the president for the stinking cyanobacteria from the southwestern Gulf of Mexico to the Treasure Coast.

This would be the same president whose EPA he regularly reviles, informing the world that Florida can take care of its own waters.

Scott has fought against decent, measurable standards under the Clean Water Act since he came into office in 2011, aided and abetted by Adam Putnam, the Commissioner of (Big and Dirty) Agriculture and the Legislature. Courtesy of Big Shug — always a massive campaign contributor to both political parties — Lake Okeechobee gets nastier by the minute, putting the Everglades and South Florida’s already impaired rivers increasingly at risk.

Florida could have bought a huge chunk of U.S. Sugar land south of the lake to store (and thus clean) dirty water and restore the flow of the ‘glades.

But Scott — and his hand-picked South Florida Water Management Board — said no. Why? U.S. Sugar no longer wanted to sell.

Got to keep the boss happy.

There’s some potentially good news on the horizon: incoming Senate President Joe Negron wants to buy 60,000 acres of sugar land south of the lake to clean up the water. He says it’s a “personal priority” for him.

If Negron can get the feds to pay for half of it (he’d better pray Hillary Clinton wins in November) and if he can get it past the Florida Legislature, it might go a very long way in reversing years of debilitating neglect.

Whether or not this happens will depend on whether Rick Scott figures Floridians will forget his poisonous environmental policies in time for the 2018 US Senate election.

In the meantime, Nature is on the rampage. And who can blame her?


Diane Roberts’ book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at Florida State University.

Diane Roberts: Bernie Sanders supporters need to grow up

Santa Claus ain’t real. Nobody from Hogwarts is going to show up with a spell to cure what ails us. Captain Kirk will not be whooshing in on the Enterprise to make peace on the planet.

Millions of American voters seem to think one person can save the nation: defeat terrorism, bring our soldiers home, resuscitate dead industries, make us all rich, repair every rickety bridge and potholey road, solve climate change, get the lion to lie down with the lamb, and clear up that acne.

Last week at the Republican Convention last week, Donald Trump told the nation “I alone can fix it.” America, he means. This week at the Democratic Convention, Sandersnistas threw tantrums because their guy — who would give us free college and whip Wall Street — lost to Hillary Clinton.

Yes, lost. The nomination contest wasn’t stolen. It wasn’t rigged. Here’s the great Sarah Silverman, a Sanders supporter, Monday night: “Can I just say to the ‘Bernie-or-bust’ people, you’re being ridiculous.”

The Democratic National Committee’s obvious support of Hillary Clinton during the primaries was wrong. Moreover, their emails reveal serious bias — but not criminality. Not fraud.

There was no conspiracy to rob Bernie Sanders of his rightful votes. No DNC Illuminati meeting in candlelit rooms plotting his downfall. No Clinton Freemasonry.

It was just what you’d expect when a longtime Democrat’s primary opponent had only been a professed member of the party for about five minutes. You want the support of Democratic Party brass? Be a Democrat.

This is how party politics works. There’s a contest: somebody wins and somebody loses.

Yet a number of Sanders supporters pitched hissy fits as if the nation had just perversely rejected its one true savior. They walked out, booed, hollered “Lock her up!” (really?) and protested, announcing that they intended to vote for the Green Party or not vote at all or even vote for Donald Trump.

Which would add to America’s problems. Thanks, y’all.

For conservatives, everything’s good or bad, for us or against us. The Trumpsters not only assume their candidate will ride into the White House on a bed of caviar and gold leaf, unite the nation, and stare down any dirty foreigner who dares challenge him, but do it single-handedly.

As if the Constitution, Congress, K-Street, the Supreme Court, state governments, international finance, treaties, and alliances did not even exist.

Progressives usually acknowledge the complexity of the world and know that no one person can ever be the answer to all our issues. But too many act like Bernie is some kind of wizard, some Brooklyn-born Gandalf, who will somehow rid American politics of big money influence and banish inequality. Single-handedly.

See the Constitution, Congress, K-Street, the Supreme Court, etc., above.

Looking to one man (emphasis on the word MAN) as The Answer, is not democracy. It’s magical thinking. Fairy-tale fascism.

Bernie Sanders certainly never wanted to be a dictator. He does not feel the need to crush his “enemies:” Trump is still going around insulting Sen. Ted Cruz, his nearest rival, and Jeb Bush, who dropped out of the race months ago. To Sen. Sanders’s credit, he not only called last night for Hillary Clinton to become the nominee by acclamation, but he will also be out campaigning for her.

That’s grace. But some of Sen. Sanders’s acolytes act as though without his super powers, nothing positive can happen in this nation. They’ll take their whiffle ball and go home.

Then there’s Trump. He seems to want to be a strongman like Putin. Or Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Someone who quashes the free press (remember, Trump said he wants to “open up” libel laws to destroy media he doesn’t like), threatens war, and doesn’t care that we need the goodwill of other nations.

Governing is a process. Good things can happen, but they don’t happen overnight. Or because of one person. Some Americans may long for an all-powerful, butt-kicking guy to waste our foes and Save the World, but nothing is ever that simple.

We need to grow up. Life isn’t a movie.


Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at FSU.

Diane Roberts: With Donald Trump, it’s Midnight in America

China is stealing our brains. Europeans are laughing at us. Mexicans are pouring over our open borders to drive down your wages and rape your children. ISIL bombers disguised as Syrian refugee children will soon be living on your block. Muslims are shooting up discos. Democrats are coming to take your guns.

It’s Midnight in America.

Or maybe, like, 3 a.m. That’s an even worse time. The point is, America totally sucks. (Thanks, Obama).

There’s only one thing you can do to save it: vote for Donald J. Trump.

According to Donald J. Trump, anyway. He’s tanned, rested and ready.

He’s “your voice.” If he wins (WHEN he wins), “the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon, and I mean very soon, come to an end.”

How soon? Inauguration Day.

How will Trump do it? By Making America Great Again, you loser. Trump’s powerful Trumpismo will overcome pathetic obstacles such as the United States Constitution. He will Make America Safe Again.

Truly, Donald J. Trump is an inspiring candidate. He has inspired former Klansman David Duke, a registered Republican, to run for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana.

Duke, who has endorsed Trump, likes the way Trump has “embraced his ideas.” His platform is to “demand respect for the rights and the heritage of European Americans.”

Make America White Again.

Trump says he is all about Law and Order. Just like another charismatic figure from Americans politics.

Richard M. Nixon.

In 1968, Nixon looked at America and didn’t like what he saw. Hippies. Yippies. Rock and Roll. Black Power agitators. Women’s libbers. Anti-police rallies. Psychedelia. Short skirts and long hair and weed.

He didn’t like it, but he figured he could use it. The Republicans’ “Southern Strategy” — inciting white voters resentful of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts — would lock them into voting GOP. Middle Americans terrified of the riots that followed the murders of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and horrified at youth culture and anti-war protestors, would vote Republican as well.

You just had to frighten the crap out of them.

At his RNC acceptance speech, Nixon darkly invoked “cities enveloped in smoke and flame” and “sirens in the night.” He would bring back law and order.

Trump decided that if it worked for the most despised president in American history, it would surely work for him: “I think what Nixon understood is that when the world is falling apart, people want a strong leader whose highest priority is protecting America first,” Trump told the New York Times. “The ’60s were bad, really bad. And it’s really bad now. Americans feel like it’s chaos again.”

A “strong leader.” A boss, in fact. Does ring any historical bells? Listen to Trump’s fact-challenged and detail-free rant. No nod, however small, to democracy. Promises to lock out people who don’t “share our values.” Appeals to nativist prejudice: “Americanism, not globalism.”

Richard Milhous Nixon (who struggled with the democracy thing), yes, but also Benito Mussolini.

Maybe Trump’s not a fascist, though he has no actual policies, no actual nuts-and-bolts platform. Robert Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism” points out: “Fascist leaders made no secret of having no program.”

Trump will govern through sheer force of personality. Just like Mussolini. VP Mike Pence will be in charge of “domestic and foreign policy.”

Mussolini concentrated on restoring the Roman Empire. Trump will arm us to the teeth, wall us in, and declare that America is, in fact, great again.


Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at Florida State University.

At 2016 RNC, yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why

The great Hunter S. Thompson observed, “the genetically vicious nature of presidential campaigns in America is too obvious to argue with, but some people call it fun, and I am one of them.”

Pity he’s dead. He’d love the 2016 Republican Convention.

There are grown people wearing the lavishly decorated hats usually seen only on mules plodding down Main Street in the town parade. There are buttons proclaiming “Life’s a Bitch, Don’t Vote for One,” and T-shirts with “Trump 2016″ decorated with large, somewhat hirsute, American flag, er, testicles. They don’t just announce their delegate votes, they deliver surreal state commercials:

“Madam Chairman, the commonwealth of Virginia, home of the CIA, a law school named for Justice Antonin Scalia, and Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s stuffed horse, casts 17 votes for Donald J. Trump, 16 votes for the midget senator from Florida, and four votes for Chloe the pot-bellied pig at the Richmond Zoo!”

There are speeches. Or things called speeches. Antonio Sabato, Jr. (you know, from Celebrity Wife-Swap?) assured the nation Barack Obama really, truly, definitely is a TOTAL SECRET MUSLIM. Patriotic do-ragged Willie Robertson, of the mansion-dwelling, multi-millionaire Louisiana Duck Dynasts, said the problem with the lamestream media is that they don’t hang with “regular folks like us.”

Rocking a chin-curtain and the kind of milk-curdling scowl a Klingon would envy, Milwaukee County sheriff David Clarke called Black Lives Matter “Marxists.” A gaggle of ex-military gents with very broad necks expressed pervy fantasies about seeing Hillary Clinton in prison stripes or maybe an orange jumpsuit.

Melania, Frau Drumpf, dressed in bright, white, and quite tight Roksanda Ilincic, delivered herself of charmingly accented address, only partially plagiarized from a speech Michelle Obama gave in 2008.

That was just the first night.

On the second night, Mark Burns, an African American preacher from South Carolina, delivered the invocation: “Lord, we’re so thankful for the life of Donald Trump. We’re thankful that you are guiding him — that we, together, can defeat the liberal Democratic Party, to keep us divided and not united, in Jesus’ name — if you believe it, shout amen!”

The very, very white people in the Quicken Loans Arena hollered “Amen!” and looked pleased. See? Republicans aren’t racist: they just interacted with a Genuine Negro!

The he-Trumps, Eric and Donald Jr., applauded lustily. The she-Trumps applauded demurely. Ivanka, Vanessa, Lara and Tiffany — en masse they look like the audition-pool for a Gossip Girl spin-off, all center-parted blondes with tall shoes and lips like hotel pillows.

Tiffany spoke, calling her father “friendly.” Donald Jr. spoke, telling how his father “hung out with the guys on construction sites, pouring sheet rock and hanging — pouring concrete and hanging sheet rock,” He marveled at how a “boy from Queens” with only $35 million in his pocket, could “change the skyline of New York.”

Gov. Chris Christie, the Most Disappointed Man in America, got up and prosecuted Hillary Clinton, Stalinist show trial-style, for murdering the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi with her bare hands, inviting Russia to hack her email account, kicking Bo the White House dog, and wearing white shoes after Labor Day.

Christie had the mob hollering “Guilty!” which was a nice change. Before, they’d all been screaming “Lock her up!”

Cleveland is heaven for journalists right now. Very heaven.

Yet even with all this richness, these manifestations of the messed-up American soul, the story that keeps going like that Ray Banned rabbit drummer isn’t Christie’s kangaroo court, isn’t Donald Jr.’s Horatio Alger fantasy, it isn’t even the New Hampshire legislator and campaign advisor, an ex-Marine Trump refers to as his “favorite veteran,” who said – over and over – that Hillary Clinton ought to be “shot for treason.”

No, it’s poor Melania’s cribbed speech. Even though some Trump minion has come forth to take the blame, explaining that Melania just really “admires Michelle Obama,” be-suited pundits have suggested, not entirely jokingly, that Herr Drumpf fire his wife.

Hey, he’s done it twice before. But Trump partisans say that’s a terrible idea: it would be really hard to replace her.

True: there are some jobs Americans just won’t do.

Or, as Hunter S. Thompson said in The Curse of Lono: “Yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why.”

Diane Roberts’s book “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America” will be out in paperback this fall. She teaches at Florida State University.

Diane Roberts: Rick Scott’s breathtaking hypocrisy on water pollution

Rick Scott, our Trumpster-diving governor, has declared a state of emergency. He’s suddenly discovered Florida’s waters are choking in toxic algae, green as arsenic, and malodorous as a pile of rotting mullet.

Images of slime-covered sand, and fish gasping their last on closed beaches are appearing in print and on screens around the world. It’s not just another day in paradise.

Scott blames “the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike,” the perpetually leaking earthwork that’s supposed to contain the noxious soup of sewage, fertilizer and Big Ag runoff that is Lake Okeechobee. South Florida has had a lot of rain, so the Corps has been trying to ease pressure on the dike by flushing a lot of noisome lake water out into the rest of Florida.

“Because the Obama administration has failed to act on this issue,” Scott said, “the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae which is now entering residential waterways in South Florida.”

Um, what? Scott has always demonstrated an impressively sociopathic talent for hypocrisy, but this is truly breathtaking.

The Corps could fix the dike tomorrow, but the water in the lake would still be infested with cyanobacteria. It would still contain 20 times the toxins deemed tolerable by the World Health Organization. It could still cause liver damage, severe rashes and respiratory distress. It would still be destroying the Everglades.

It would still smell, as one lady put it, “like death on a cracker.”

Why is this water so foul? Because Scott’s political clients have been allowed to pollute all they please, pumping untreated wastewater into the second-largest freshwater lake in the contiguous 48 states — a lake which also supplies drinking water for millions of Floridians.

Big Sugar — one of the biggest polluters — is a top contributor to Scott’s political committee “Let’s Get to Work.” Cleaning up the water would hit profits.

A little history: Back in 1998, the EPA gave states six years to develop “numeric,” i.e., measurable, standards for water quality. Florida used a “narrative” standard: if the fish ain’t floating belly-up, that water’s fine.

Florida ignored the 2004 deadline, and state officials keep pretending that court cases won by various citizens and environmental groups don’t mean polluters actually have to clean up their mess.

Actually, the state has recently made it easier for polluters to dump crap into Florida waters. Since Scott signed Big Ag’s comprehensive water bill into law in January this year, all polluters have to do is claim they’re following “best management practices.” And what does that mean? Why, whatever Big Ag says it means!

So the dirty water’s on the Florida Legislature. And on Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who sees any attempt to enforce the Clean Water Act in Florida as sinister federal overreach. And on Rick Scott.

When Gov. Charlie Crist left office in 2011, there was a deal in place for the state to buy 187,000 acres of US Sugar land which would begin restoring the natural flow of the Everglades south. The ’glades, a natural filter, would help clean up the water before it got in the rivers and estuaries.

Scott voided the agreement. He even opposed a much scaled-back purchase in 2015 that would have gone a little way to putting water where it needs to be. By then, US Sugar wasn’t keen on selling. The company mused that maybe they’d put a resort or two and a bunch of houses on the land instead. More profit in that than in Everglades restoration.

South Florida waters have been gunked-up with toxic algae on and off for years. Tourism is suffering; property values are tanking.

Scott has just noticed. If he’s going to run for the U.S. Senate in 2018, he needs to look like he cares about the environment. He also needs to take care of Big Shug.

Guess which one will win out?


Diane Roberts teaches at Florida State University. Her latest book, “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America,” will be out in paperback in the fall.

Diane Roberts: Brexit — where belief trumps facts, reality

Michael Gove, the turtle-featured candidate for Tory Party leader — and thus Prime Minister of Great Britain — declared just before the Brexit vote that the British people are “tired of experts.”

The so-called “professionals,” economists, MBAs, bankers, lawyers, and suchlike riffraff, who claimed that if the Leave campaign won, the pound would decline in value, the stock market would go down, and poorer British regions would lose EU grants and subsidies, are nothing but a bunch of toffee-nosed overeducated out-of-touch types not worth listening to.

OK, so the pound tanked, the stock market slid, and the inhabitants of Cornwall, the Northeast and parts of the Midlands will feel the lack of that nice EU money that helped pay for schools and parks pretty damn quick once the UK flounces off out of the EU, but who cares about “reality”? Go wave a Union Jack!

Everything is now a matter of “belief,” not fact, not information from experts. Around 40 percent of Republicans “believe” that Barack Obama is Muslim, despite zero proof. Geological evidence shows that the earth is somewhere around 4.54 billion years. But Mr. Ken Ham of Williamstown, Kentucky, insists it’s more like 6000 years.

He’s the fellow who built a big-ass Ark complete with animatronic Noah and animals — including dinosaurs — to push “young earth creationism.”

Historians can show you documents showing that yes, the South seceded because of slavery; evolutionary biologists can walk you through natural selection, demonstrating how it’s the only thing that explains the development of life on this planet; and nothing in the $7 million Benghazi Report, prepared by experts, implicates Hillary Clinton in evil Libyan plots.

It doesn’t matter: Americans (and our British cousins) seem to have adopted the Looking-Glass Land theory of reality: “‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’”

Gove, who had said he’d act as campaign manager for his friend Boris Johnson in his bid to head the Conservative Party, announced he wanted the job himself. Johnson was blindsided: Et Tu, Gove?

Gove swore he’d tried to call Johnson “multiple times” to tell him, but “couldn’t get through.” Johnson’s camp says there were no missed calls. Which do you trust, that nice Mr. Gove or the actual evidence?

It’s the era of post-truth — which is to say, many of our leaders and a substantial cadre of their media sympathizers, just make stuff up. Anyone who tries to verify the stuff they make up is obviously a political enemy, a truster of experts instead of upstanding, virtuously-ignorant voters. Well-sourced, double-checked knowledge is suspect: The experts, the people who spend their lives studying the fossil record or researching international banking operations or interviewing the witnesses — well, why should their facts be more important than your prejudices?

The International Monetary Fund and the Institute for Fiscal Studies warn that if Britain leaves the EU, the mess will take years to untangle and cost a lot of money while potentially hamstringing the economy. Citizens who don’t agree (not that they have much in the way of hard information to back up their opinions) see them as “tainted” organizations, unreliable, biased.

Brexiteers preferred to believe their man Boris Johnson, writer of newspaper columns making extravagant and demonstrably untrue claims, such as the EU is responsible for manufacturing job losses in the UK and that “leaving the EU would be like escaping from jail.”

Here in the U.S., a Moody’s Analytic report indicates Donald Trump’s economic plans for the country will cause a recession, complete with job losses and a decline in the living standard of the middle class. The Trumpniks shrug: what the hell do these financial people know?

Trump himself is the ultimate post-truth candidate, saying anything, everything: The Obama administration supported al-Qaida in Iraq; Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald just before JFK was shot, the federal government sends Middle Eastern refugees only to states with Republican governors — he’s either a pathological liar or he genuinely thinks it doesn’t matter to his supporters.

Jeffrey Lord, one of Trump’s surrogates appeared on CNN and declared that Americans don’t care about what’s true: Fact-checking, he said, is an “out-of-touch elitist media-type thing.”

This is where we are: facts are never facts, information is always partisan, the truth is so, you know, 20th century.

Anything that might discomfit us, or challenge our cherished — if uninformed — ideas, can be dismissed. Vaccines may cause autism. Orlando shooter Omar Mateen wasn’t a disturbed guy obsessed with guns and gays, he was a sinister ISIL operative. Global climate change isn’t an emergency, despite the way the polar ice keeps melting and South Florida keeps flooding. It’s a hoax by scientists trying to get rich.

God help the planet if Britain lets a bunch of lies drive it out of Europe and if America elects a man whose relationship with the truth as casual at best.


Diane Roberts is the author of “Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America.” She teaches at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Diane Roberts: In Scotland, Donald Trump plays the ‘ugly American’

As he arrived at his golf course in Scotland, wearing a white “Make America Great Again” cap, Donald Trump’s cosmetically-enhanced grin was wide as the ocean, despite the guy handing out golf balls with swastikas on them, despite the protesters waving Mexican flags. The UK’s vote to leave the European Union was “fantastic,” he said. The British have “taken back their country,” no longer accepting all those immigrants “pouring over their borders.”

Bloody foreigners.

Watch for Trump will to try and make his own hay here, linking “Brexit” to anti-immigrant sentiment in the US. No doubt he takes it as a signal that he will prevail in November.

And check this out: Boris Johnson, the anti-EU Tory likely to become prime minister when David Cameron resigns in the fall, is something of a populist as well as a notorious philanderer with a shock of peculiar margarine-colored hair.

It’s a sign!

The UK, like the US, is sharply divided, as the “Brexit” vote reveals. The more educated, more urban, more ethnically diverse and more affluent wanted to stay in the EU; the less educated, more rural, and whiter population still struggling to recover from the 2008 recession and the Conservative government’s “austerity” program, were hell-bent on leaving.

Trump famously “loves the poorly educated” and they, evidently, love him back.

Here’s what’s really going on: white people no longer rule everything. And it’s driving them crazy.

In Britain, fifty years of immigration has created a vibrant multicultural nation. That influx of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uganda, Nigeria, and the West Indies, people who practice medicine, run restaurants, teach school, hold political office, and participate in every other aspect of British life, has little to do with the EU. It’s the Empire striking back. For 200 years, people in these former colonies were told that England is the Mother Country, so it’s hardly surprising that some of them decided to go “home.”

EU citizens have also relocated to the UK, but more recently and in fewer numbers, yet somehow they bear the brunt of “Brexit’s” Anglo-Saxon rage. The UK Independence Party, a Trumpian collection of xenophobes and outright racists, were expert at convincing disaffected working-class voters that they were unemployed because of the EU, not an economy changing from manufacturing to services.

UKIP, along with hubristic Tory politicians and the Murdoch press (Sun headline on June 23rd: “Be-LEAVE in Britain”) also played on patriotism and the lurking sense that the EU is soft on terrorism.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who wanted to stay in the EU, did a crap job of arguing for the benefits the EU brings, instead trying to out-scare and out-outrage the anti-EU forces. Decades of hilariously-weird urban myths have flourished in British popular culture. EU regulators say bananas should not display “abnormal curvature.” The “Full English Breakfast,” a festival of fat beloved of all true John and Jane Bulls, should be replaced by “muesli and croissants.” Worst of all, the EU might force barmaids to stop wearing low-cut tops.

None of these dictates were actually true, but that didn’t stop the tabloid press from launching a “Save Our Jugs” campaign.

In terms of subtlety and truth, these canards are right up there with Barack Obama coming to take your guns, or Hillary Clinton wanting to let in hundreds of thousands of crazed jihadis who will impose sharia law and vote a straight Democrat ticket.

Pissed-off white people here in the US don’t have an EU to focus their anger upon, so they fixate on a variety of “Others”–Mexicans, African-Americans, liberals, gays, feminists, intellectuals, elites. Lately, it’s an emotional roller-coaster ride.  The same day the British went to the polls on EU membership, the Supreme Court slapped white folks upside the head by saying yes, affirmative action that takes into account the race of a university applicant is A-OK.

Then SCOTUS turned around and decided to not decide on Barack Obama’s immigration initiative, leaving a few million undocumenteds worrying that they could be deported at any time.

They won’t be: the president has made it clear that he’s more interested in deporting people who commit crimes instead of the mother of a couple of US citizens who crossed the border illegally.

But Republicans and Trumpsters will gin this up, telling their voters–strangely like Britain’s anti-EU voters–that the November election is their chance to make sure a right-winger gets on the Supreme Court to break the tie.

And Clinton supporters will get revved up to see that Hillary chooses the next Supreme  Court justice.

The UK is not, of course, exactly like the US. The EU referendum is not the same as our presidential election. But the nationalist, isolationist impulses that make Trump’s “America First” campaign or Brexiters’s “Britain First” campaign come from a similar place: frightened, angry, frustrated and mean-spirited.

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