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Tampa Bay Rants And Raves



A weekly look at the Tampa Bay area and national politics from a conservative viewpoint – plus a helping of sports and lifestyle items. Warning: not everything printed here should be taken at face value!


We conclude the year with some of our ’18 favorites


Tampa Bay, politics and stuff:


1. The debate rages on as to who will benefit from the new tax plan and who won’t. All we know is until it does indeed include a post card on which to file your taxes and the IRS, as we know it, is abolished, it cannot be a total success.

2. (From January): The spirit of Gasparilla is spreading with news there will be a mini-invasion of Indian Rocks this year. It’s not the first invasion of Pinellas County. There was another in Clearwater back in 1976. Unfortunately those invaders never went away.

3. (Also from January, but could be from any of another six months through the year including Palm Sunday): Another Sunday, another morning of gummed up traffic as folks try to get to church, restaurants etc. in the face of another foot race that could just as easily be run on the miles and miles of publicly financed trails in our county.

4. The 60-40 beat-down of the strong mayor initiative in Clearwater should put that issue to rest for the near future. Curiously, a lot of folks who should be able to better read the tea leaves got on the wrong side of that issue.

5. Question: Is there any reason why Purdue Pharma who has relentlessly marketed their addictive drug oxycodone to doctors over the years be treated any differently than tobacco companies who have been sued for billions of dollars for their assault on America’s health?

6. Tax Day Wisdom from President Ronald Reagan: “Republicans believe every day is the 4th of July; Democrats believe every day is April 15th.”

7. Floridians may now smoke medical marijuana. Oh goody, that will make our roads so much more interesting.

8. (From June): We want to tip our cap to Shawn Morrison, the owner of Car Tunes on East Bay Drive in Largo. We came in with an issue involving our new car’s radio and our MP3 –player. It certainly was not a big money making project for Shawn, but he treated us like it was. Thanks!

9. Alice Marie Johnson, a cocaine trafficker, was pardoned by President Trump after intervention by the famous for being famous Kim Kardashian. Ms. Johnson served 22 years in jail. That is probably a few days each or less for all the lives she and her fellow drug pushers ruined.

10. Idle thought – thinking back to Miss Ketchum’s fifth grade class at Skycrest Elementary where the day began with the pledge and a short Bible reading. Today, just think what would happen….

11. You’ve no doubt heard from Spectrum that they are going all digital.Translation: they have come up with another scheme to remove money from your pocket.

12. Liberals are throwing their hands up in the air over the fact that over 20% of the doctors “certified” to distribute medical marijuana have significant blips on their records including several in Hillsborough and Pinellas. This is something the mainstream medical profession and law enforcement officials warned us about prior to last year’s vote.

13. (From August) Democrats think they can take out long time U.S. Rep. Gus Billirakis this fall - good luck with that. The family has held the seat for three decades and the Demo challenger is a former FBI agent – not the best credential right now.

14. From September: Idle thought during the first full week of autumn. In Florida, you gauge the beginning of fall not by the temperature, but by the changing colors of the license plates.

15. Over the years, Ford has produced the Model A, Falcon, Taurus, Fairlane, Galaxie, Crown Victoria, the infamous Edsel and the iconic Mustang and Thunderbird vehicles. Within three years, there will be only a couple sedans (including the Mustang) left in the Ford inventory as they focus almost completely on SUVs and trucks.

16. (From October) Talk about wanting your cake and eating it too. Democrats pout and hold their breath until they get an FBI investigation. After it blows holes in their witch hunt, they suddenly don’t like it.

17. (Also in October) One of the best suggestions to come along in quite some time is moving Halloween to the last Friday or Saturday in October. If we can randomly move dates like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day around, why not move Halloween to a day where kids don’t have to go to school the next day?

18. (From November) Now that the election is over and many elected candidates are already looking towards their next office before they get their seat warm. Great wisdom from one of America’s greatest mayors – Fiorello La Guradia: “It’s bad to be thinking of another office when you have one. It’s vain and impairs the officer holder’s usefulness.”

19. We guess it’s probably an over-reaction to suggest secession over the Congressional inaction on Florida’s initiative to keep daylight savings time year-round. None the less, it’s frustrating to have the will of the people in the Sunshine State thwarted by foot-dragging. Hopefully newly minted Senator Scott will get the ball across the goal line in time for next fall.

20. There’s a new terminology that has creeped into the American lexicon – “non-violent felon”. It is being tossed about by supporters of the move to add felons to Florida’s voting rolls. Brought down to its essence, a non-violent felon is someone who rather than killing people with weapons, sells them drugs that can kill them. We fail to see the distinction.


Sports, the media and other stuff:


1. From the 5:05 Newsletter, never afraid to reach beyond our borders for its version of the news: President Vladimir Putin announced that he will run for a sixth term as president in 2018. An hour later, he announced that he had won.

2. Our granddaughter’s BAF (best animal friend) Nicholas, a dolphin at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, is now 6 for 7 in picking the national college football champion with Bama’s win. Each year he’s given two toy footballs representing the contenders and this year picked the Tide over the Dawgs.

3. If the bay area’s major league baseball team is going to move to Tampa, at least rename them with a brand that has some legacy – the Tampa Tarpons. Think of what it would generate in new merchandise sales alone!

4. Yet another baseball note: best hire of the offseason was not Jake Arietta, Yu Darvish or J.D. Martinez, but the White Sox re-hiring of Nevest Coleman, a former groundskeeper, who spent 23 years in prison falsely accused of murder.

5. Idle thought: while it is great to hop on the net and find any possible baseball item we want, we still miss the postman dropping off our weekly copy of The Sporting News, baseball’s Bible, which ceased publication five years ago.

6. The Tampa Bay Rays are planning to go into the season with a four man rotation. That worked well for the Cleveland Indians some sixty years ago when the four were Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon, Herb Score and Early Wynn. We’re not so sure about Archer, Eovaldi, Faria and Snell. We give it a month – or less. (Ed. note – it lasted slightly longer but not very successfully).

7. The Cardinals’ dismissal of manager Mike Matheny falls into the ready, fire, aim category. The Cards never had a losing season under him and you can bet he won’t be cashing many unemployment checks.

8. Great line from late Oriole lefty and baseball executive Mike Flanagan - “You know you’re having a bad day when the 5th inning rolls around and they drag the warning track.”

9. From the trendsetting 5:05 Club Newsletter this gem: There is talk of legalizing marijuana in Utah. However, Mormons are worried that marijuana may be a gateway drug to coffee.

10. Hey Dos Equis, how did that new “most interesting man in the world” work out?

11. (From June) Best word of the week: “Stupid” – USF’s eminent political guru Dr. Susan MacManus when asked on 97-WFLA what word she heard in the ubiquitous Laurel/Yanny sound bite.

12. Other than yawns, LeBron’s move to LA was greeted by one question – does he want to end his season earlier? At least in the Eastern Conference, he had a chance to advance to the finals and lose to Golden State. Now, that vacation will come earlier.

13. Sports quote of the week: “The Rays keep playing for tomorrow and tomorrow never seems to come”- crack baseball analyst Ken Rosenthal.

14. The so-called Rice Commission has made it clear – college basketball and,worse, high school basketball will become nothing more than a farm system for the NBA. The Commission needed to go the other way and eliminate one and dones. Sadly, they failed.

15. Super hero news from the 5:05 Newsletter: Last month marked the 80th birthday of Superman. Now that he is 80, Superman is rendered helpless by Kryptonite and his email password.

16. (From September) As the NFL regular season prepares to kick off this week, here’s perhaps the oddest fact in the NFL: the Falcons stadium, now in its second year of operation, has among its concessions a very large Chick-fil-A. You see the problem there, correct? The chain is not open on Sundays – including Sunday, Feb. 3 when the stadium will host the Super Bowl. It is open during concerts, college games and such, but still…

17. The NFL is quickly morphing into the Arena Football League with its unrealistic roughing the passer and other anti-defense rules. Nobody likes 7-3 games but no one wants “last one with the ball wins” contests either. Changes are needed.

18. (From October) Step back a few years and if you were told three Florida football teams were in the Top 25, you’d never dream two of the three would be UCF and USF.

19. As the year was winding down, the three biggest hits on the December 1968 charts were Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye, Steve Wonder’s For Once in My Life and Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman.

And our favorite of the favorites from 2018: Quote of the week: from a recent “politifact” article: “To make a point, politicians are increasingly picking out just facts that make their case”. But hasn’t that been politifact’s business model since its inception?


Our Last Song Together (with a bow to Glenn Yarbrough)


Folks who made their mark nationally and locally whom we will miss:

In late December: “The alphabet now ends at Y." The words of Sue Grafton’s daughter in announcing her famed mother’s passing. The mystery writer’s signature was alphabetical titles – the last being Y Is For Yesterday.

In January, Keith Jackson, the charming good old boy from the South, passed away at age 89. Saturday gridiron has never been the same since his retirement – arguably the best college football play by play man ever.

He was in nearly three dozen movies, but we all remember him warmly as the plain spoken Martin Crane on Frazier. The great character John Mahoney died in February at age 77.

Also leaving us in February: a colorful baseball figure who had one sweet swing. Tito Francona hit as high as .363 in his 17 seasons – doing that in 1959 with the Indians, the team his son Terry now manages.

He, probably more than any American in the past century, crossed religious and political lines. Billy Graham, who died at age 99, was truly America’s pastor.

In March, Roger Bannister the first athlete to crack the seemingly impossible four minute mile died at age 88.

As Dr. Charles Emerson Winchester, he was one of about a dozen amazing regular and recurring characters that made M*A*S*H a television classic. David Ogden Stiers died at age 76.

The man who turned a few record racks in his Dad’s drugstore into an international giant, Tower Records, died at age 92. There is a neat bio on Russ Solomon and his company you can find on some of the history outlets. Well worth a viewing.

“Stephen Hawking was a giant of theoretical physics who bridged the divide between science and popular culture” – from the Independent. It’s sad that perhaps the greatest scientific mind since Einstein was known as much for his appearances on The Big Bang Theory as he was for his work as a distinguished physicist. He was 76.

Peter Stamas, who with his brother Nick founded the iconic Stamas Boat Company, passed away in Tarpon Springs at age 94.

Also in March, Baseball lost one of its finest with the passing of “La Grand Orange” as Rusty Staub was known in his Montreal playing days. Good as his on-field efforts were, they were overshadowed by his charitable works both during and after his playing days. Staub was 73.

April saw the passing of Dene Locke at age 86. Dene was a long time educator in Pinellas County schools. Her late husband, John, was a respected Clearwater attorney for several decades.

He was an irreverent judge on Night Court and Dave Barry’s alter ego on Dave’s World, but to us, his bit roles as grifter “Harry the Hat” on Cheers were classic. The incredibly talented Harry Anderson was 65.

America’s matriarch, Barbara Bush, died in April at age 92 – one of only two women in American history to be both a wife and mother of a U.S. President.

Earle Bruce, who passed away at age 87, made his mark at Ohio State but also coached the University of Tampa Spartans and gave current Ohio State coach Urban Meyer his first job.

In May, Clearwater lost one of its nicest and loveliest “first ladies” with the passing of Karen Aungst, wife of former mayor Brian Aungst, Sr.

Further proof that only the good die young, long time Pinellas politician and all around good guy John Morroni succumbed to cancer at age 63.

He was the baseball man’s baseball man. Red Schoendienst, the oldest living member of the Hall of Fame, died in June at age 95. The redhead made his mark in St. Louis, but was also part of a World Series championship team in Milwaukee in 1957.

There were media conservatives Charles Krauthammer and George Will and then there were the rest. Krauthammer, 68, who overcame early paralysis to become a formidable conservative voice, died from cancer in June.

She started at the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and then led the Dunedin Chamber for 18 successful years. Lynn Wargo died in June at age 57 – a tremendous loss to our community.

He played to two very distinct audiences – SiriusXM’s Margaritaville and WUSF’s Morning Edition. Veteran broadcaster Carson Cooper passed away in July at age 58.

America said goodbye to its Queen of Soul in August with the passing of 76-year-old Aretha Franklin.

Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, Plaza Suite and Promises, Promises – four great Broadway shows that just scratch the surface of the genius that was Neil Simon. The heralded playwright passed away in August at 91.

August also saw the passing of war hero and respected statesman John McCain at age 81.

He was the heart throb of teen and twenty-something girls in the 60s with roles in Gunsmoke, Riverboat and Dan August – not to mention Smokey and the Bandit. Burt Reynolds, who lived life to the fullest, died in September at 82.

Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, a vital cog of the great Packer teams of the late 50s and early 60s, passed away in October at age 83.

In 1959, he was NL Rookie of the Year, ten years later, the league’s MVP, in 1986 he joined the other Willie in the Hall of Fame. Giant great Willie McCovey died in October at age 80.

He was a renowned heart surgeon as well as the founder of Tampa Bay’s first nationally recognized band – the Rockers. October saw the passing of Dennis Pupello, age 79.

Laverne Siple, Clearwater native, who with her husband Dick, presided over Clearwater’s foremost restaurant for decades passed away in November at age 89.

Wayne Stayskal whose excellent political cartoons graced the pages of the TampaTribune for two decades died in late November at age 86.

He was truly a man for all seasons, fighter pilot, U.S. Rep., UN Ambassador, CIA Director, Vice President and our 41st President. George H.W. Bush died November 30 at age 94.

In December the bay area said goodbye to one half of the area’s most dynamic and giving couples when Joan Steinbrenner passed away at age 83.

To most, she was Laverne in Laverne and Shirley, but behind the camera, she was the force behind Big and A League of Their Own. Penny Marshall died in mid-December at age 75.

UP NEXT: Our nation’s values; Moock’s Tavern; Fining Hammerin’ Hank



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