Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of January 10, 2021

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Dave Bautista had good weeks. Publix too. Others, not so much.

Many conservatives have long believed that mainstream media – and now Big Tech – is out to get them. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ keynote address last week to the Texas Public Policy Foundation relied on that theme.

Many conservatives are outraged that Twitter and other social media platforms permanently banned soon-to-be-former President Donald Trump. The start-up social media site Parler, favored by conservatives, also lost its web hosting service.

What really bothered me was how they decapitated this company, Parler,” DeSantis said. “You always said, ‘Hey, it’s a market, you don’t like Twitter, create your own competitor.’ Well, they did that.”

DeSantis insists this is a free speech issue.

“I think it’s probably the most important legislative issue that we’re going to have to get right this year and next year,” he said during the address.

Take a look at what DeSantis’ is defending, though. Also, frame it through the attack on the U.S. Capitol by insurgents incited by Trump.

The “decapitation” wasn’t about squelching spirited debates about the budget deficit or immigration policy.

No, Parler failed to curtail posts like these noted in an Amazon court filing:

  • “We are going to fight in a civil War on Jan.20th, Form MILITIAS now and acquire targets.”
  • “On January 20th we need to start systematicly [sic] assassinating [sic] #liberal leaders, liberal activists, #blm leaders and supporters, members of the #nba #nfl #mlb #nhl #mainstreammedia anchors and correspondents and #antifa. I already have a newsworthy event planned.”
  • “After the firing squads are done with the politicians the teachers are next.”

Nothing about those posts is conservative. Nothing.

These are plans for another attack on democracy.

Look at steps taken to protect state capital cities around the country leading to Wednesday’s inauguration of Joe Biden. That tells you how well the message of hate connected.

By the way, conservatives aren’t the only ones who run afoul of social media etiquette. A good friend had multiple stays in what she joked was “Facebook jail” last year. She is liberal to the core and deeply opposed to Trump. Her posts, while biting, never came close to the kind of rhetoric noted above. FB suspended her anyway.

We saw exactly how big the deal is during the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Many of them were drawn to Washington by Trump’s continued tweeting of the lie about a stolen election. They believed he called them to action.

And that is the problem.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees you can criticize the government without disappearing in the middle of the night. People can call the President, Governor, senators, or anyone else incompetent, maybe even dangerous.

They can rail for or against laws and lawmakers.

This was none of that, though, and DeSantis should know how to tell the difference.

On to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Publix. The supermarket colossus that made it easy to get your flu shot while shopping for blueberries now is a COVID-19 vaccine destination. Markets in 12 Florida counties will offer the shots (all spots so far are fully booked), and they’ll add more locations soon.

“Publix is in every community,” DeSantis said.

The move, primarily aimed at Florida’s large 65-plus population, is a win-win for all involved.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Dave Bautista. The former WWE wrestler and Guardian of the Galaxy member did more than express outrage that someone put “TRUMP” on the back of a Florida manatee.

He offered a $20,000 reward for information that can put the creep where they belong – in jail.

“If there’s not already a reward for the arrest and conviction of the low life scummy MAGATs that did this, I’ll throw in $20,000,” Bautista tweeted. “And I promise there will be bonuses to that reward!”

The Center for Biological Diversity also announced a $5,000 reward, which we really hope someone will earn.

The biggest winner: DeSantis. Defending Parler was a bone-headed move, but Florida’s Governor was way out front about COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone 65 years or older.

DeSantis signed an executive order to that effect on December 23.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out last week with the same recommendation, about three weeks after DeSantis made headlines with his order.

While DeSantis received justifiable criticism for parts of his response to the pandemic, he has been a strong advocate for seniors.

“Because we put seniors first, and because people actually see shots going in arms, you literally have people all over the world and all over the country calling here to see (if they can get the vaccine), but we are not doing that,” he said at a news conference.

“We are not doing it for tourists. We are not doing it for interlopers.”


Dishonorable mention: U.S. Rep. Greg Steube. Standing in security lines is never fun, but it’s the world in which we live. Someone ought to remind Steube that the new security at the Capitol building might save his life one day. Ah, but thanks anyway for the look inside your values.

Representatives now must pass through metal detectors before entering the U.S. House of Representatives’ floor. Steube joined Republican lawmakers who consider themselves above such precautions, and that’s never a good idea.

In a tirade on the House floor, Steube called the measures an “atrocity” and “appalling.”

“Take note, America,” Steube said. “This is what you have to look forward to in the Joe Biden administration.”

Or in pretty much any other administration for the last 20 years or so.

We can only hope the leave Steube took from his senses is temporary because, man, that’s crazy talk. The Capitol attack is an atrocity. Standing in line is a momentary inconvenience.

Of the many witty retorts to such overwrought snowflaking, Michigan Democrats Rep. Rashida Tlaib might have had the best.

“Now they know how HS students in my district feel,” she tweeted. She added: “Y’all brought this on yourselves.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Ashley Moody. Florida’s Attorney General serves on the executive committee of the Republican Attorneys General Association. She also proudly noted that she was on the board of that group’s nonprofit arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund.

The day before the attack by insurrectionists on the U.S. Capitol, a robocall went out from the RLDF urging “patriots” to “march to the Capitol building and call on Congress to stop the steal.”

Well, the “patriots” (cough) marched all right, and we know what happened.

Moody quickly scrubbed her official website of all references to her board position.

The Legal Examiner reported that Moody’s spokesperson, Lauren Cassedy, said in an email,  “Attorney General Moody swiftly condemned the violence on Wednesday and continues to do so. She has no knowledge of the acts presented in this article.”

The Tampa Bay Times reported Moody left the board in 2020.

To be clear, no one suggests Moody had any direct involvement with the call.

However, it’s a bad look to have even a loose association with anything that falsely promotes the notion of a stolen election. Moody did plenty of that. She signed a flimsy and doomed attempt by the Texas Attorney General to overturn election results.

Trump lost fair and square, so could you give it up already?

It’s over.

Speaking of giving it up …

The biggest loser: Delusional Trump supporters. Let us repeat: Trump lost. Millions more people voted LEGALLY for Biden.

These folks scream at the top of their lungs about their love for America, but their actions suggest otherwise. They embrace conspiracy theories over facts they don’t like. Rather than accept the outcome, they’re acting with the sophistication of a 5-year-old throwing a tantrum. That’s not how true patriots act.

Come to think of it, that’s also how their leader has behaved since LOSING THE ELECTION.

There is no “steal” to stop. Why can’t more of them just admit that the vast majority of voters liked the other guy better?

However, thanks largely to the mind meld Trump has on supporters, look where we are. DeSantis called out the National Guard to protect Tallahassee from crazed rioters. Governors in many other states did the same thing.

Washington looks like it’s under military occupation.

The biggest lie of all is that the violent protests are in the name of patriotism. There is nothing patriotic about the movement that led to these draconian measures.

This time, if violence happens in the nation’s capital, there could be blood in the streets. Police and the Guard won’t mess around. Bullets will fly, and bodies will fall.

For what?

It’s surely not for America.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Ron Ogden

    January 17, 2021 at 6:54 am

    Where was your outrage when stupid young cablecasters greeted Donald Trump’s election with F-bombs four years ago, when young leftist know-it-alls burned the American flag and urinated on it, when thousands marched to the tune of “Not My President”, when effete intellectuals despised the president’s wife and teen-aged son, when celebrities and loudmouthed politicians encouraged the nightmares of his arrest, injury and even murder, when so-called journalists embarked on a four-year rage to spin and downright lie about his every comment and concoct, in company with a poisonous bureaucracy, a years-long effort to destroy his presidency and when, at the end, Democrats, deranged with the fear of his popularity, passed a bill to make it a crime for a president to tell his followers to peacefully make their voices heard? Where was your self-righteous anger then, Joey? But then all joeys are alike, aren’t they?

  • Jay McGovern

    January 18, 2021 at 9:58 pm

    Joe, thanks for pointing out there are Publix stores in virtually every community and that they are trying to help administer vaccines. If you see him, Please let Gov DeSantis know there are also Fires Stations with EMTs in every community who can provide those services too. We have the infrastructure, the problem has been a lack of leadership. You do good work. Thanks.

Comments are closed.


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