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By Bob Frederickson

From Tone Deaf Travelers to Humid Endeavors…

‘Off Key’ Response to Moment of Silence Request in DC…

On the recent 18th anniversary of 9-11, the public address announcer at Reagan National Airport in the nation’s capitol asked for a moment of silence at the precise moment the first hijacked aircraft struck the World Trade Center in New York on that fateful day in 2001.

Sadly, the request was largely ignored by travelers too absorbed by their own transitory concerns to remember the nearly 3000 Americans who died that day.

Like many of you, I vividly remember that morning. President Bush was in town highlighting the importance of education with an appearance at Booker Elementary School in Newtown.

My wife and I had worked well past midnight the day before, putting to bed the nine newspapers our employer, Sun Publications, printed for midweek distribution throughout southwest and central Florida. As a result of the late shift, we had the morning of 9-11 off. I was drinking my morning coffee with the TV on when the first tower was struck. When the second tower was hit, everyone watching knew the horrible magnitude of the events unfolding before our eyes.

President Bush, his accompanying White House staff and the press corps were immediately shuttled to SRQ amid reports that ‘ANGEL 1’  – the secret service’s code word for Air Force One – was itself a target. The threat came in a phone call that supposedly used that secret code word no one outside the secret service should have known, leading to speculation the president faced a threat from some individual or group within the government. An inside job? Scary stuff.

Preparations had already begun to get the massive aircraft on its way by the time the president’s motorcade arrived at the airport. There was also a report that someone had seen an individual at the north end of the runway with what looked like it could be a stinger missile on his shoulder. More scary stuff.

And so the pilot, Colonel Mark Tillman, decided he would depart Sarasota at full power with a steep ascent to clear the tree line at the end of the runway where the suspicious individual had reportedly been spotted, making a surface-to-air missile strike as difficult as possible. The 9-11 commission later reported the unidentified man at the end of the runway was a father and his young son, there to view the President’s departure. The device he was holding, a camcorder. It also reported the phone threat that Angel 1 was a target turned out to be a miscommunication. But of course, none of this was known at the time.

When Angel One lifted off at full-throttle to power a maximum ascent, our two story wood-frame home, 2.5 miles east of the airport, shook like it never had before. I rushed out to the west facing second story deck and watched Angel One lifting higher and higher toward an uncertain horizon in a world we knew instantly would never be the same.

And of course, we were right; 18 years later, our world is certainly a different place. Look no further than the travelers at Reagan National Airport on September 11, 2019, too busy to remember.

Isn’t it ironic that the President was here in Sarasota, stressing the importance of education, and in the days between it seems we have failed so many of our fellow Americans in that regard.

Virtue Signaling in Sarasota

The Sarasota City Commission has voted to pass an ordinance that limits single-use plastic straws on city-owned property. Now don’t you feel better?

Well, before you get too giddy over this profile in courage by the city commission, consider this: The U.S. doesn’t even make the top 10 list of nations fouling the world’s oceans with plastic (and other trash). China, of course, tops the list by adding 3.53 metric tons of the stuff per year, more than 30 times as much as the U.S. In fact, our total is dwarfed by eleven other nations, mostly smaller in both size and population; the list includes Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Thailand, Malaysia, Nigeria, Brazil…even Bangladesh.

Something to keep in mind when your paper straw collapses while trying to enjoy your adult beverage at a downtown restaurant.

Now that Wasn’t Very Neighborly…

Kyle Rayborn was at the Cattlemen’s Livestock Auction in Lakeland recently looking to buy and sell cattle per his usual routine as a rancher.

When the first bull entered the sales pen, Rayborn thought it looked familiar, so he stood up to get a closer look. Sure enough, it carried his mark on its ear.

He sat tight and watched the auction play out. His four-year-old semi Angus black bull eventually sold for $1000.

Turns out the bull had wandered off and ended up in the pasture of a neighbor, Stewart Gregg Smith, 38, who according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department seized the opportunity to make some quick cash.

“Stew loaded up the bull and he took him to the market. That’s no bull,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.

“It’s hard to believe you would take a stolen bull to the local market where all the cowboys know each other,” Judd continued. “So we put Stew in the pen where he belonged and returned the bull to the victim.”

“Had I not been there during that 45 seconds he would have been gone forever, Rayborn said.

I’m guessing Rayborn and Smith won’t be exchanging Christmas cards this year…

Shocking News: Politicians Favor Supporters!

Well Duh! Another shocking Claude Rains moment from the press!

It came in the form of a page one, above the fold story with banner headline in a recent issue of the Herald Tribune. That headline read:

DeSantis’ Donors Find Favor…

This stunningly obvious revelation is likely news to no one who has followed politics for more than ten minutes, but the details behind the story are so innocuous as to make this particular story especially entertaining.

It involves Governor DeSantis tapping longtime friend and donor John Rood, a Jacksonville developer, to help the Bahamas recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian over the recent Labor Day weekend.

So if you’re like me you’re probably assuming the story will outline Rood’s utter lack of qualifications for the task. But no … it turns out Rood is a former ambassador to the Bahamas which you would think uniquely equips him to hit the ground running. As DeSantis points out in the story “Rood knows the people over in the Bahamas.” Pointing out he’ll be able to utilize those contacts to get things done.

Plus, he’s a builder, and (duh again) an awful lot of things in the northern Bahamas need to be rebuilt.

As long as politicians have been campaigning, donors and supporters have been rewarded with ambassadorships and appointments to one or another ad-hoc commission. What’s unusual here is it sounds like Rood may actually have the right experience for the job.

I mean whom should DeSantis have appointed? Andrew Gillum? Which makes me wonder, if Gillum had won the gubernatorial race last fall and had named a political supporter to the position Rood has been ‘rewarded’ with, I wonder if the choice would have been similarly second-guessed in the media.

Maybe, but on page one? Above the fold?

Call me a skeptic on that one.

Hot? Muggy? Please…

Sports announcer Joe Buck gave this weather update before the start of a recent NFL match-up between the Saints and Rams taking place at the old Coliseum in Los Angeles.

“It’s 84 degrees. It is hot. And muggy. Humidity 54 percent.”

Well Joe, you know what we call 84 degrees and 54 percent humidity in Florida?

Winter.

Climate Quote of Note

“If we drop our emissions to zero today, we would forestall 14/100ths a degree of warming.”

                                                                -Dr. Patrick Michaels, climate scientist.