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Tim Tebow: Speaking slot at Republican convention ‘a rumor’

Thursday morning he was among the biggest stars featured on Donald Trump‘s convention lineup. Thursday night, Tim Tebow declared his attendance at next week’s Republican National Convention was nothing more than “a rumor.”

“I wake up this morning to find out that I’m speaking at the Republican National Convention,” Tebow said in a video posted on Facebook. “It’s amazing how fast rumors fly. And that’s exactly what it is, a rumor.”

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to questions about Tebow’s departure from a convention program the New York billionaire’s team had long teased would be an extraordinary display of political entertainment. But instead of sports stars and celebrities, as promised, the campaign is relying heavily on the party’s establishment for the four-day convention, which begins Monday.

The presumptive presidential nominee has approved a convention program featuring at least 20 current or former elected officials, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, a primary rival.

Still, there is no shortage of political outsiders.

Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder, may be the first-openly gay speaker featured at a national Republican convention. His appearance comes as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP’s formal opposition to gay marriage.

Other speakers will include four of Trump’s children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabàto Jr.

Mark Geist and John Tiegen, survivors of the deadly 2012 attack on the American diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will speak.

“This impressive lineup of veterans, political outsiders, faith leaders and those who know Donald Trump the best — his family and longtime friends — represent a cross-section of real people facing the same challenges as every American household,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller.

Some of the GOP’s biggest names are declining to participate in the convention.

Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and the party’s two most recent presidential nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, plan to skip the event, as does Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another Trump primary challenger.

Shrugging off such absences, Trump’s team suggested the convention lineup would help highlight Trump’s outsider appeal.

“We are totally overbooked. We have great speakers, we have winners, we have people that aren’t only political people,” Trump told Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “We have a lot of people that are just champions and winners.”

He acknowledged in recent days that he’d stick a little closer to tradition.

“Look, I have great respect for the institution of the conventions. I mean to me, it’s very important. So we’re not going to change the wheel,” he said on Fox.

Tom Brady was initially floated as a possible speaker, but he won’t appear. Neither will former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight or boxing promoter Don King, a Cleveland resident and passionate Trump supporter.

The program will feature people such pro golfer Natalie Gulbis, retired astronaut Eileen Collins, and Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White. Former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the book, “Lone Survivor,” about a 2005 firefight in Afghanistan, will make an appearance, along with a Wisconsin sheriff, David Clarke, who is a vocal critic of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The convention will highlight religious leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr. and Haskel Lookstein, the New York rabbi who converted Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, to Judaism.

Trump does not forget his business relationships, giving speaking slots to real estate investor Tom Barrack and even the general manager for Virginia’s Trump Winery, Kerry Woolard.

In a nod toward party unity, Trump will feature several former presidential competitors, including Cruz, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

Two finalists in Trump’s search for a running mate made the list as well: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich. The other finalist, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was not included in the program obtained by the AP.

Diane Roberts: Donald Trump is no Muhammad Ali, and never will be

The great Muhammad Ali is dead, but that won’t stop Donald Trump trying to make political hay out of him.

Trump, who famously doesn’t like Muslims or black people (except Dr. Ben “Sleepy” Carson and that poor dude Trump called “my African-American”), allowed as how Muhammed Ali, a Muslim and a black man, was “a truly great champion and a wonderful guy.”

Of course, Trump WOULD attach himself to the outpouring of tributes honoring the late champion. Like an orange barnacle. Actually, Ali might not have been flattered: in December 2015, after Trump announced he’d ban Muslims from entering the country, Ali appeared to rebuke him, stating, “Speaking as someone who has never been accused of political correctness, I believe that our political leaders should use their position to bring understanding about the religion of Islam …”

Trump and Ali knew each other, often showing up at the same charity events and awards ceremonies, presenting each other with checks and trophies. Yet Ali’s religion and his eminence often seemed to slip Trump’s mind. After Barack Obama gave a speech reminding the country that Muslims are part of America’s fabric. Trump tweet-snarked: “Obama said in his speech that Muslims are our sports heroes. What sport is he talking about? And who? Is Obama profiling?”

Hmm: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, maybe? Shaquille O’Neal, Ahmad Rashad, Hakeem Olajuwon, Oday Aboushi, Hasim Rahman? And yeah, Muhammad Ali.

Just wait: Trump will soon complain that it’s very, very unfair, disgraceful, and REALLY WEAK that Bill Clinton, the King of Jordan and Sen. Orrin Hatch were invited to speak at Ali’s funeral but he, Donald Trump, was not.

Some Trumpsters are drawing parallels between their man and Ali: hey — big mouths, right? And lots of self-confidence. Plus, Ali said way more racist stuff than the Donald!

OK, let’s compare: Ali scared the be-Jesus-heck out of tradition-minded white people, like in 1964 when he converted to Islam, a protégé of Malcolm X.

Then right after he beat Sonny Liston to become the Heavyweight Champion of the world, he announced he was no longer Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.: “Cassius Clay is a slave name. I didn’t choose it, and I don’t want it. I am Muhammad Ali, a free name — it means beloved of God, and I insist people use it when people speak to me.”

Donald Trump scares the bejesus-heck out of everybody else, what with saying that if Ivanka weren’t his daughter he’d like to, ahem, “date” her, the U.S. should bring back torture, and “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”

Consider that last statement for a moment. Then go bathe in Lysol.

As for military service, Trump got multiple draft deferments: bone spur on his right foot — or was it his left? Which is OK, because five years at the New York Military Academy (a prep school where rich boys get to wear made-up fancy feathered hats and play soldier) gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

West Point and Annapolis, take note.

Ali, on the other hand, got called up in 1967 and refused to go, saying, “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

He went on: “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on Brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? … If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

It’s true that Muhammad Ali called Caucasians “blue-eyed, blond-headed devils.” Slavery and Jim Crow and racial injustice will do that to you. But he didn’t practice hatred in his life. He left the Nation of Islam in 1975 and became a Sufi. Outside the ring, at least, he was a man of peace.

Ali had wit. He had charm. Intelligence. Integrity. Humor. He had a way with language: “I’m so mean I make medicine sick,” and “I’ve wrestled with alligators. I’ve tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And thrown thunder in jail.”

Yeah, he boasted. Boasting is OK if 1. It’s funny; and 2. You have something to boast about. Or, to put it the way Ali (unless it was Dizzy Dean or Bear Bryant — scholars differ) did: “It ain’t braggin’ if you done it.”

This is what Trump and his howling mob of pissed-off white folks can’t grasp. Trump ain’t done it. He’s not funny. And he’ll never understand what Ali meant when he said: “I am America. I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.”

___

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

Florida Republicans querying donors on possible vice president choice: Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

So whom do Florida Republicans want to see Donald Trump pick as his running mate? The Republican Party of Florida is asking, in an informal poll attached to a fundraising pitch Monday.

Republican backers are getting a chance to pick from 11 prospects including four of this year’s former presidential candidates such as Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio and Ohio’s Gov. John Kasich, and some reputed rising stars in the national party such as South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott makes the RPOF’s list or prospects. So does former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, a 2012 presidential candidate. So do 2016 presidential candidates Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The list also includes few other emerging names and a couple longer-term lawmakers in the GOP, including Alabama’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and three women: Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

No Jeb Bush.

No Ted Cruz.

“Now that Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, all attention has turned to who he’ll choose as his nominee for vice president. Thankfully, our party has no shortage of qualified candidates for the job,” the RPOF states in its email.

“Mr. Trump has said that — beyond being ready to be president — there are two main factors he’s looking for in a VP nominee: He’s looking for a ‘political person:’ someone who can work with Congress and help him pass his agenda, and someone who he’ll have great chemistry with.”

The party promises results as soon as they’re completed.

Darryl Paulson: Donald Trump the demagogue: Have you no sense of decency?

(First of three parts)

With Donald Trump‘s victory in Indiana and the withdrawal of his last two opponents, he is assured a first-ballot victory at the July convention in Cleveland.

The good news is there will be no riots, as Trump threatened with a deadlocked convention. The bad news is Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch was testifying before the Army/McCarthy Hearings in Washington. Welch was chief counsel for the U.S. Army while that branch of the service was under investigation for communist activities before Sen. Joe McCarthy‘s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

During the hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, an attorney in Welch’s law firm. While a student at Harvard, Fisher had joined the Lawyers Guild, identified by the FBI as a communist-front organization.

Fisher had notified Welch of his “youthful indiscretion,” and did not participate in the hearings. Nevertheless, McCarthy persisted in his attacks. Welch asked McCarthy not to “assassinate this lad further, Senator.”

McCarthy continued his assault on Fisher. Welch interrupted and berated McCarthy. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s confrontation with McCarthy attracted national attention. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and McCarthyism. Within three years, McCarthyism was dead and so was the senator.

Has Trumpism now replaced McCarthyism? Right before the Indiana primary, Trump went on Fox and Friends and attacked Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz. Trump accused the elder Cruz of being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Trump told Fox viewers that “this was reported and nobody talks about it.” Who reported the story? The National Enquirer, long known for its exposés on Hollywood starlets and their Martian babies.

David Peeker, CEO of the Enquirer, is a Friend of Trump and has endorsed his candidacy. The Enquirer previously ran a story accusing Cruz of having affairs with five women.

McCarthy and Trump both destroy lives based on little or no evidence and a lot of lies. As long as their goal is advanced, it matters not what happens to the wrongly accused.

New York Times columnist David Brooks has called Trump the “most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetime.” Trump is “oblivious to accuracy.” In a position that demands the highest level of maturity, we are left with a childish man lacking a moral compass.

Here are a baker’s dozen of reasons why Trump is unqualified to be president:

  1. Trump has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” Forget that it means 1.2 billion individuals and violates both U.S. and international law.
  2. Trump accuses Mexican illegals as “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump wants to deport all 11 million illegals, but offers no plan on how to do it.
  3. Trump’s proposal to eliminate ISIS is very simple, and I mean that in the worse way possible. Trump says he would “bomb the shit out of them.” Now, that’s a plan.
  4. Carly Fiorina has an “ugly face! Would anyone vote for that?” Megyn Kelly asks a tough question of Trump and he accuses her of being unbalanced due to her period.
  5. Trump accuses Ben Carson of being “pathological” and, thus, unfit to be president. He stretches Carson’s youthful temper tantrums by comparing it to child molesters. Child molesters are “pathological” and “you don’t cure a child molester.”
  6. Trump attacks John McCain as not being a war hero because his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
  7. When asked to renounce the endorsement of longtime Klansman David Duke, Trump responded that he doesn’t know anything about Duke. Strange. In 2000, Trump wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times saying he was leaving the Republican Party because of its ties to Duke.
  8. Trump frequently asks participants at his rallies to raise their right arm and pledge allegiance to him. The salute reminded many of salutes to Adolf Hitler when he controlled Germany. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man,” and the leader of a “hate-filled movement.”
  9. Trump encourages torture against terrorists and the killing of families of terrorists. Both would violate U.S. and international law. At his rallies, Trump spoke of wanting “to punch protesters in the face.” After a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  10. Trump’s language seeks to divide Americans rather than unite them. Trump talks about “you” and “we” needing to attack the dangerous “them.” His opponents are branded as “stupid,” “weak,” or “losers.”
  11. Trump often attacks people and then denies doing so. He said he would never “call Megyn Kelly a bimbo because that would be politically incorrect.” He called her a bimbo and then said he would never do it.
  12. Trump consistently distorts the truth, changes positions and lies. PolitiFact called Trump’s collection of misstatements the “lie of the year.” It found that 76 percent of the 77 Trump statements were False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire.
  13. Trump is the first and only presidential candidate to defend the size of his penis in a debate.

I wish reason would be sufficient to sway individuals from supporting Trump, but I know that reason seldom succeeds. Like in most mass movements, Trump’s supporters will deny Trump ever said or did the things he has done. They will rally to his defense.

Trump is not fit to be president. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner we can end this national nightmare that is Donald Trump.

Part II on Monday: Democracy and Demagogues will examine why demagogues so frequently emerge in democracies.

***

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Donald the demagogue: Have you no sense of decency?

(First of three parts)

With Donald Trump’s victory in Indiana and the withdrawal of his last two opponents, he Is assured a first ballot victory at the July convention in Cleveland.

The good news is that there will be no riots as Trump threatened with a deadlocked convention. The bad news is that Donald Trump is the Republican presidential nominee. Lincoln must be spinning in his grave.

On June 9, 1954, Joseph Welch was testifying before the Army/McCarthy Hearings in Washington. Welch was chief counsel for the U.S. Army while that branch of the service was under investigation for communist activities before Sen. Joe McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

During the hearings, McCarthy attacked Fred Fisher, an attorney in Welch’s law firm. While a student at Harvard, Fisher had joined the Lawyers Guild, identified by the FBI as a communist-front organization.

Fisher had notified Welch of his “youthful indiscretion,” and did not participate in the hearings. Nevertheless, McCarthy persisted in his attacks. Welch asked McCarthy not to “assassinate this lad further, Senator.”

McCarthy continued his assault on Fisher. Welch interrupted and berated McCarthy. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Welch’s confrontation with McCarthy attracted national attention. It was the beginning of the end for McCarthy and McCarthyism. Within three years, McCarthyism was dead and so was the senator.

Has Trumpism now replaced McCarthyism? Right before the Indiana primary, Trump went on Fox and Friends and attacked Rafael Cruz, the father of Ted Cruz. Trump accused the elder Cruz of being involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Trump told Fox viewers that “this was reported and nobody talks about it.” Who reported the story? The National Enquirer, long known for its exposés on Hollywood starlets and their Martian babies.

David Peeker, the CEO of the Enquirer, is a Friend of Trump and has endorsed his candidacy. The Enquirer previously ran a story accusing Cruz of having affairs with five women.

McCarthy and Trump both destroy lives based on little or no evidence and a lot of lies. As long as their goal is advanced, it matters not what happens to the wrongly accused.

New York Times columnist David Brooks has called Trump the “most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetime.” Trump is “oblivious to accuracy.” In a position that demands the highest level of maturity, we are left with a childish man lacking a moral compass.

Here are a baker’s dozen of reasons why Trump is unqualified to be president:

  1. Trump has called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.” Forget that means 1.2 billion individuals and that it violates both U.S. and international law.
  2. Trump accuses Mexican illegals as “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” Trump wants to deport all 11 million illegals, but offers no plan on how to do it.
  3. Trump’s proposal to eliminate ISIS is very simple, and I mean that in the worse way possible. Trump says he would “bomb the shit out of them.” Now, that’s a plan.
  4. Carly Fiorina has an “ugly face! Would anyone vote for that?” Megyn Kelly asks a tough question of Trump and he accuses her of being unbalanced due to her period.
  5. Trump accuses Ben Carson of being “pathological” and, thus, unfit to be president. He stretches Carson’s youthful temper tantrums by comparing it to child molesters. Child molesters are “pathological” and “you don’t cure a child molester.”
  6. Trump attacks John McCain as not being a war hero because his plane was shot down over North Vietnam. “I like people who weren’t captured.”
  7. When asked to renounce the endorsement of long-time Klansman David Duke, Trump responded that he doesn’t know anything about Duke. Strange. In 2000, Trump wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times saying he was leaving the Republican Party because of its ties to Duke.
  8. Trump frequently asks participants at his rallies to raise their right arm and pledge allegiance to him. The salute reminded many of salutes to Adolf Hitler when he controlled Germany. Der Spiegel, a German magazine, called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man,” and the leader of a “hate-filled movement.”
  9. Trump encourages torture against terrorists and the killing of families of terrorists. Both would violate U.S. and international law. At his rallies, Trump spoke of wanting “to punch protesters in the face.” After a Black Lives Matter protester was assaulted, Trump said, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”
  10. Trump’s language seeks to divide Americans rather than unite them. Trump talks about “you” and “we” needing to attack the dangerous “them.” His opponents are branded as “stupid,” “weak,” or “losers.”
  11. Trump often attacks people and then denies doing so. He said he would never “call Megyn Kelly a bimbo because that would be politically incorrect.” He called her a bimbo and then said he would never do it.
  12. Trump consistently distorts the truth, changes positions and lies. PolitiFact called Trump’s collection of misstatements the “lie of the year.” It found that 76 percent of the 77 Trump statements were False, Mostly False or Pants on Fire.
  13. Trump is the first and only presidential candidate to defend the size of his penis in a debate.

I wish reason would be sufficient to sway individuals from supporting Trump, but I know that reason seldom succeeds. Like in most mass movements, Trump’s supporters will deny that Trump ever said or did the things he has done. They will rally to his defense.

Trump is not fit to be president. The sooner Americans realize this, the sooner we can end this national nightmare that is Donald Trump.

Part II on Monday: Democracy and Demagogues will examine why demagogues so frequently emerge in democracies.

***

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Darryl Paulson: Picking a VP: Criteria, candidates for Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

As we close out the presidential nomination phase, attention is now shifting to the selection of possible running mates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This will be the first important decision that the candidates must make as they enter the general election phase of the campaign.

Let’s examine some of the criteria that have been used in selecting a vice president in the past. Vice presidents are sometimes selected to unite the party. Ronald Reagan selected George H. W. Bush in an attempt to unite the conservative and eastern establishment wings of the party. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts picked Lloyd Bentsen of Texas to try to unite the northern and southern wings of the Democratic Party. It failed.

A vice president may be selected to appeal to a certain demographic group. For example, that’s what Walter Mondale‘s choice of Geraldine Ferraro of New York as the first female vice president of a major political party was all about. Her selection was designed to energize women voters and to win New York. Neither happened.

A vice president may be selected to win a crucial state. Both Bentsen and Ferraro failed to deliver their home states, just as Paul Ryan was not able to win Wisconsin for the Mitt Romney ticket.

A final factor is to add gravitas to the ticket. It was concern over Reagan’s qualifications that, in part, led to his choice of Bush. He had experience in Congress, was the head of the Republican Party, ambassador to the UN and China and Director of the CIA. Strangely, it was concern over Bush’s intellect that led him to pick Dick Cheney as his vice president. Cheney had served in Congress, was White House Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense and a prominent businessman. He added those experiences to the ticket.

Vice presidents can make or break a campaign or administration. In 2004, John Kerry narrowed his vice presidential options to Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina or Missouri House member Dick Gephardt. Kerry picked Edwards and lived to regret the choice.

Kerry believed that Gephardt would have helped in winning Ohio, whereas Edwards failed to carry North Carolina. Democratic consultant Bob Shrum also believed Gephardt would have performed much better in the vice presidential debate.

In 2008, many believed that John McCain‘s selection of Sarah Palin weakened his chances of victory. Richard Nixon selected little-known Maryland Gov. Spiro Agnew as his running mate. Agnew would go on to have the distinction of being the first vice president forced to resign due because he accepted bribes while governor.

Among Clinton’s possible candidates are two Hispanics, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Housing Secretary Julian Castro.

Perez is well-regarded by liberals, but is virtually unknown to most Americans. He has no foreign policy experience and his only elective office was as a county council member.

On paper, Castro is one of the favorites. He is young, telegenic and a rising star in the party. But his only government experience prior to becoming Labor Secretary was being mayor of San Antonio.

Former South Carolina Gov. Jim Hodges hopes Clinton will pick a woman as vice president. “It would be formidable and create a huge buzz with female voters,” he said.

The leading females include Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren is certainly better known and a favorite of progressives, but Warren refused to endorse Clinton.

Three other possibilities are white males: Sens. Tim Kane of Virginia, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bill Nelson of Florida. Kane comes from a critical swing state, speaks Spanish and was one of the first to endorse Clinton for president in May 2014.

Brown is a favorite of progressives and might help win the critical swing state of Ohio. But Brown is up for re-election and Democrats want to win control of the Senate. That might work against him.

Nelson’s strengths are that he comes from the swing state of Florida and he’s not seen as ambitious. He would be a vice president whose focus would be on the job and not running for president in the future.

For Trump, there are probably more people who don’t want to be his vice president than those who want to be considered. John Kasich, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, and Susana Martinez are among the many who have distanced themselves from Trump. Being Trump’s vice president is “like buying a ticket on the Titanic,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham said.

Among his possible vice presidential possibilities are former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former presidential candidate Ben Carson. Sessions and Christie were among the first elected Republicans to endorse Trump.

Trump has personally praised three Republican governors: Kasich, Christie and Floirda Gov. Rick Scott. Kasich and Scott come from “must win” states, but a Kasich spokesman said there is “no chance” of him running with Trump. Scott, like Trump, comes from a business background and was one of the first to openly support him.

Trump has surprised everyone during the nomination process. It should not be surprising to see him surprise us once more in choosing a vice president.

***

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Diane Roberts: Moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill was a no-brainer

That Barack Obama. He’s at it again, dividing the country, fostering racial strife.

What is it this time, you ask? Why, only the most sacred of things, our best beloved, our central obsession — money.

The double sawbuck, to be precise, the one currently sporting Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States. Obama’s Treasury Secretary is sending him to the back of the $20 bill, while ex-slave Harriet Tubman gets to go on the front.

Planet Fox (that lightless but loud satellite orbiting the vast Murdoch Spatial Anomaly) is puffing and squawking. Greta Van Susteren used her April 21 “Off the Record” segment (which, since it’s broadcast to a lot of people, is actually ON the record) to get emphatic, if not coherent, about keeping Old Hickory right where God intended: “We could put a woman on a bill! Tubman — acknowledge her courage, and not stir up the country. But give Tubman her own bill! Like a $25 bill! We could use a $25 bill! Put her picture on that and we could all celebrate!”

The Brain Trust that is “Fox and Friends” also came out strong for leaving Andrew Jackson alone. He’s an American hero. Brian Kilmeade called him “one of the best generals we ever had.”

Kilmeade might want to ask the Cherokee, the Creeks, the Choctaw and the Seminoles about that.

Co-host Heather Nauer fussed that Alexander Hamilton got to remain on the $10 bill just because he’s the subject of a hit Broadway musical: “If that is the standard, next thing you know, folks, we’re going to have cats on money!”

Ben Carson (how soon we forget!) and Donald Trump (how we wish we could forget!) decided that Harriet Tubman deserved maybe the $2 bill. Trump allowed as how Tubman was “fantastic,” but dismissed the Jackson-Tubman switch as “political correctness,” adding that Jackson had “been on the bill for many, many years and really represented — somebody that was really very important to this country.”

A cynical person might wonder if Herr Drumpf had actually ever heard of Harriet Tubman. Or Andrew Jackson.

For Herr Drumpf’s information, Jackson wasn’t merely a plantation master, a proslavery Southerner. He was a government terrorist.

In 1816, he orchestrated the destruction of what was called the “Negro Fort” in Spanish Florida. More than 300 Choctaw, Seminole and African Americans were killed, many of them women and children.

Hundreds more refugees who lived around the Apalachicola River settlement were rounded up and sent back into slavery in Georgia and the Carolinas.

He violated international borders raiding Seminole villages in Spanish Florida, burning and murdering. The Seminoles harbored runaway slaves.

As president in 1830, he pushed the Indian Removal Act, setting in motion the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of native people from their lands east of the Mississippi so that white people could establish plantations worked by black people.

I guess you could say that was “really very important to this country.” You could also say it was genocide: 10,000 died of typhus, cholera, dysentery and starvation before they ever made it to “Indian Territory.”

Compare Jackson’s career with that of Araminta Ross (she later called herself “Harriet,” and “Tubman” was her husband’s last name), born a slave on a Maryland plantation c. 1822, escaped to freedom in Pennsylvania in 1849.

She became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad — a very successful one — returning South again and again to help free people.

The white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison nicknamed her “Moses.” During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman spied for the Union, and in the decades after (she died in 1913), advocated for women having the right to vote.

Yes, Andrew Jackson was elected President of the United States. But a number of dodgy people have held that office: Millard Fillmore. Richard Nixon. George W. Bush. Doesn’t mean we have to celebrate them.

No, history is not being buried: Jackson’s simply getting parked in a less prominent place on the money. He’s still there, so all you white men who feel threatened by the elevation of a bad-ass brave little black woman who believed that the words of the Declaration of Independence — the part about everyone being created equal — should govern America, need to get over it.

It’s not “political correctness.” It’s not pandering. It’s righting an old wrong.

Come join America, white guys. You might learn something.

***

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

Diane Roberts: Moving Andrew Jackson to the back of the bill was a no-brainer

That Barack Obama. He’s at it again, dividing the country, fostering racial strife.

What is it this time, you ask? Why, only the most sacred of things, our best beloved, our central obsession — money.

The double sawbuck, to be precise, the one currently sporting Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States. Obama’s Treasury Secretary is sending him to the back of the $20 bill, while ex-slave Harriet Tubman gets to go on the front.

Planet Fox (that lightless but loud satellite orbiting the vast Murdoch Spatial Anomaly) is puffing and squawking. Greta Van Susteren used her April 21 “Off the Record” segment (which, since it’s broadcast to a lot of people, is actually ON the record) to get emphatic, if not coherent, about keeping Old Hickory right where God intended: “We could put a woman on a bill! Tubman — acknowledge her courage, and not stir up the country. But give Tubman her own bill! Like a $25 bill! We could use a $25 bill! Put her picture on that and we could all celebrate!”

The Brain Trust that is “Fox and Friends” also came out strong for leaving Andrew Jackson alone. He’s an American hero. Brian Kilmeade called him “one of the best generals we ever had.”

Kilmeade might want to ask the Cherokee, the Creeks, the Choctaw and the Seminoles about that.

Co-host Heather Nauer fussed that Alexander Hamilton got to remain on the $10 bill just because he’s the subject of a hit Broadway musical: “If that is the standard, next thing you know, folks, we’re going to have cats on money!”

Ben Carson (how soon we forget!) and Donald Trump (how we wish we could forget!) decided that Harriet Tubman deserved maybe the $2 bill. Trump allowed as how Tubman was “fantastic,” but dismissed the Jackson-Tubman switch as “political correctness,” adding that Jackson had “been on the bill for many, many years and really represented — somebody that was really very important to this country.”

A cynical person might wonder if Herr Drumpf had actually ever heard of Harriet Tubman. Or Andrew Jackson.

For Herr Drumpf’s information, Jackson wasn’t merely a plantation master, a pro-slavery Southerner. He was a government terrorist.

In 1816, he orchestrated the destruction of what was called the “Negro Fort” in Spanish Florida. More than 300 Choctaw, Seminole and African Americans were killed, many of them women and children.

Hundreds more refugees who lived around the Apalachicola River settlement were rounded up and sent back into slavery in Georgia and the Carolinas.

He violated international borders raiding Seminole villages in Spanish Florida, burning and murdering. The Seminoles harbored runaway slaves.

As president in 1830, he pushed the Indian Removal Act, setting in motion the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of native people from their lands east of the Mississippi so that white people could establish plantations worked by black people.

I guess you could say that was “really very important to this country.” You could also say it was genocide: 10,000 died of typhus, cholera, dysentery and starvation before they ever made it to “Indian Territory.”

Compare Jackson’s career with that of Araminta Ross (she later called herself “Harriet,” and “Tubman” was her husband’s last name), born a slave on a Maryland plantation c. 1822, escaped to freedom in Pennsylvania in 1849.

She became a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad–a very successful one–returning South again and again to help free people.

The white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison nicknamed her “Moses.” During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman spied for the Union, and in the decades after (she died in 1913), advocated for women having the right to vote.

Yes, Andrew Jackson was elected President of the United States. But a number of dodgy people have held that office: Millard Fillmore. Richard Nixon. George W. Bush. Doesn’t mean we have to celebrate them.

No, history is not being buried: Jackson’s simply getting parked in a less prominent place on the money. He’s still there, so all you white men who feel threatened by the elevation of a bad-ass brave little black woman who believed that the words of the Declaration of Independence — the part about everyone being created equal — should govern America, need to get over it.

It’s not “political correctness.” It’s not pandering. It’s righting an old wrong.

Come join America, white guys. You might learn something.

***

Diane Roberts is the author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She teaches at Florida State University. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Jac VerSteeg: GOP devolving into the party of, um, jerks

As a preacher’s kid who grew up in the South, I value politeness. Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. Let me get that door for you.

It is a given that, when you encounter a governor in a coffee shop, you do not yell, “You are an a**hole!”

Nevertheless, Cara Jennings’ crude outburst in a Gainesville Starbucks provides an insight that if taken to heart might benefit the Republican Party, whose presidential frontrunners are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

The party has an a**hole problem.

It is nominating, electing and otherwise advancing too many people for whom the Jennings epithet is appropriate.

Now, I do not like to throw that insult around casually. But even my Context Florida colleague Martin Dyckman – one of the most thoughtful columnists in America – reviewed Gov. Rick Scott’s record and concluded that Jennings had pretty much hit the nail on the head.

It’s not just a matter of policies. It includes the bullying attitude and tactics that led Scott’s apologists to respond to Jennings’ verbal assault with an equally low-class attack ad.

I checked the thesaurus to come up with a more family friendly term of disparagement. Many of the synonyms are just as rude as the original. I think the printable word that captures it best is “jerk.”

Scott is a jerk. Trump is a jerk. Cruz is a jerk. There are jerks on the Democratic side – Florida senatorial candidate Alan Grayson seems like one – but for the most part, Democrats portray themselves as a nicer bunch. You might disagree with their policy stances, but they have better manners.

And when they don’t have better manners – for example the Bernie Sanders supporter who referred to “corporate Democratic whores” – they usually suffer fits of guilt and quickly apologize.

But Trump revels in being a jerk, whether it’s threatening to spill the beans about Cruz’s wife or inciting crowds at his rallies who are angry at protesters to “Get ’em outta here!”

Cruz also has an entire “Jerk” heading on his resume. In fact, it’s just about the only thing on his Senate resume, from shutting down the government because it will boost his name recognition to calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, a “liar.”

The great thing about being a GOP jerk is that there apparently are a lot of Republican primary voters who are excited about the opportunity to vote for a jerk. I only can conclude that those voters also are jerks. But it seems unlikely to pay off in the general election.

As a recent Washington Post story detailed, both Trump and Cruz have very high negatives, with Trump racking up very, very high negatives. Both, for example, are less popular than Mitt Romney was at this point in the 2012 campaign.

Of course Hillary Clinton also has high negatives. But I don’t think it’s because she’s viewed as a “jerk.” She’s primarily viewed as being dishonest. (In part because she’s been relentlessly attacked by jerks.)

We know from the Scott re-election in 2014 that having very high negatives does not mean you will lose the election. Trump or Cruz might be able to beat Clinton or Sanders.

But in terms of party-building for the future, having Trump or Cruz win might be the worst thing that could happen to Republicans. The mood of the country is very much turning away from jerks. The rhetoric about gay people, immigrants, women and Muslims is not popular among younger voters and growing demographic segments of our population. Republican kowtowing to big money doesn’t help.

The GOP base simply has a higher percentage of jerks than the population at large.

Republicans had the opportunity to nominate a candidate who – while their policies might be similar to those of Cruz and Trump – did not come off as such a jerk. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and John Kasich just seem nicer. But the jerks who were voting have opted instead to advance the died-in-the-wool jerks who were running.

The “establishment” in the Republican Party itself seems to recognize this problem. But they don’t know how to solve it. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan – an apparent non-jerk who swears he won’t be drafted for the presidential ticket – hasn’t been able to corral the Tea Party folks – aka, the jerks – to pass a budget.

For some reason Senate Majority Leader McConnell has decided to act like a jerk and refuse to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. I assume he hopes that by acting like a jerk he can lure a few more GOP jerks to the polls next November.

Again, it might work in the short run. But it isn’t going to work in the long run. The GOP has to get its hard-core jerks under control. That’s what the leadership is trying to do by desperately seeking a way to pick anybody but Trump at this summer’s convention.

Good luck. Do that, and the jerks are going to rebel.

Cara Jennings didn’t have the best manners. But she summed up in one word everything wrong with Scott’s and the GOP’s arrogant, I-don’t-care-about-you approach to governing. That attitude is even more sneering and aggressive in Trump and Cruz.

The last three Republicans elected president were Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. What did they have in common? They were affable. Their party is re-branding itself with a different seven-letter word that begins with “A.”

***

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Ben Carson endorses Ron DeSantis for U.S. Senate

GOP Senate candidate Ron DeSantis scored a major national endorsement Thursday, in the form of Dr. Ben Carson, whose name was linked with a potential Senate run weeks back.

“I am pleased to endorse Ron DeSantis for U.S. Senate. Ron is a thoughtful man of strong character and faith who has served our country in the military and who is dedicated to restoring America’s founding principles,” said Dr. Carson. “In the Senate, he will fight for the Constitution and for a strong national defense. He knows we must repeal ObamaCare, protect life and defend religious freedom.  Floridians don’t need to guess if Ron DeSantis will fight to change Washington – all you have to do is look at his proven conservative record. I urge all of my supporters in Florida to do everything they can to elect him. Ron DeSantis has my vote.”

“It’s an honor to receive the support of Dr. Carson, who has inspired millions of Americans with his incomparable life story and hopeful vision for America’s future,” said DeSantis. “Dr. Carson has been a clear and consistent voice regarding the need to repeal ObamaCare and restore the Constitution.  Dr. Carson’s support will magnify the fact that I’m the only candidate in this race with a proven record of standing up to the permanent political class in Washington. In Congress, I declined a pension, fought for term limits, and rejected special treatment for members of Congress under ObamaCare. In the Senate, I’ll continue to fight to make sure Washington lives under the same rules as everybody else.”

DeSantis, who faces a competitive primary to replace Marco Rubio against Carlos Lopez-CanteraDavid JollyCarlos Beruff, and Todd Wilcox, has combined a strong fundraising operation, savvy political moves, and grassroots outreach to catapult to the first tier of the race for the GOP nomination.

Carson, however, is an especially important endorsement.

A March poll showed enthusiasm for a hypothetical Carson candidacy among a staggering 56 percent of Republican voters.

Carson, however, has disclaimed interest in a Senate run. And Thursday’s key endorsement shows that DeSantis aligns with his vision for the GOP.

Of course, DeSantis’ opponents have their own takes.

The Carson endorsement played into the ongoing back and forth between the Florida GOP Senate campaigns of Reps. David Jolly and DeSantis. 

“Dr. Ben Carson says ‘Floridians don’t need to guess if Ron DeSantis will fight to change Washington.’  I’m not so sure about that, Doctor,” said Jolly’s spokesperson, Max Goodman, who also sent along a Friends of David Jolly 41 second digital ad asserting that DeSantis is “part of the problem in Washington D.C.

The ad begins with the stentorian voice of DeSantis addressing supporters, saying that “the difference is when you get up there, are you going to do what you say you were going to do, or are you going to drink the Kool-Aid and start to become part of the problem.”

From there, DeSantis’ voice cuts out, and a series of damning headlines that imply that the Ponte Vedra Republican has become part of the “problem.”

The ad hits DeSantis for attending the Koch Brothers’ “big money conclave in California,” for having skipped House votes to “campaign in Vegas,” for carrying the most debt in the Senate race, and for sometimes prioritizing fundraising over making votes.

The spot closes with a graphic promoting the Stop Act, authored by Jolly, which would preclude officeholders from fundraising. DeSantis, who has been the most active fundraiser on the Republican side, obviously diverges from Jolly’s position.

The video is below:

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