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I expect the title of this op-ed will generate enough hate mail to keep me busy for a month. How can anyone oppose democracy? If the Founders hated democracy, who am I to disagree?

The Founders recognized the inherent dangers of democratic government. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, called democracy “one of the greatest evils.”
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Scattered across our land are a significant number of persons who are in love with each other, who have stayed that way for many months or years, and have somehow avoided most of the quarrels and dissatisfactions that come with conjoined living. Most of these couples are married; many are not. A distinctive factor is that almost none of these men and women feel trapped by their relationships. Their divorce or other split-up rates are minimal.

I call these folks The Duplexites. Or Duplexers. By whatever name, they share one universal (at least for themselves) trait: they enjoy separate living quarters. Whether this consists of a separate wing in their house, a shack in the back, a second apartment down the street or a fully-equipped suite of rooms in the attic, the arrangement allows either or both partners to fully withdraw from each other, without apology or permission, and retreat to his/her own digs for 10 minutes, an hour or an entire evening.
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Tuesday, May 9
I lost my first child on the day I was born on April 19, 1775 I am America. He fell on the green at Lexington, his heart pierced by a British musket ball.

Many more of my sons and daughters would fall on that day and in the years to come until the guns grew still and peace came to me on that glorious day at Yorktown.
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If I were running an anger management program, I would devise a final exam for my clients. It would test their self-control to the utmost. If they passed my test, I would award them a golden plaque resembling a smiling angel.

The final exam would go something like this: “You must record the next five times that you encounter a problem with your bank, your phone company, the ISP (internet service provider) for your computer, the outfit that promises you anti-virus coverage, or any other entity whose mission statement contains this fib: “We’re here to serve you.”
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Rick Scott came to Tally as an outsider, and that’s just how he might leave. For as much as Gov. Rick Scott loves to deride what he calls “career politicians” - even those in his own party - those same people have forced him into what looks more and more like an inescapable trap.

Does he veto the just-passed $83 billion state budget and force lawmakers to return to Tallahassee to over-ride him, which they almost certainly would?
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Tuesday, May 9
Florida’s Republican Party has governed Florida for less than a third of the past 150 years. After the Civil War, a coalition of newly enfranchised blacks, a small number of native white Republicans and northern carpetbaggers dominated Florida politics from 1865 to around 1885.

After the blacks were stripped of their voting rights at the end of Reconstruction, the Republican Party ceased to be a political force. By 1900, more than 90 percent of black voters were dropped from the voter rolls due to barriers to black voters adopted by the state Legislature and through constitutional amendments. As a result of the removal of black voters, not a single black or Republican was left in the legislature.
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About 75 years ago two novelty songs were recorded by several artists and achieved high listings on the popular music charts. One was “Mr. Five By Five.” The second was “The Too Fat Polka.”

The lyrics of both songs had one dominant message: fatness is funny. Many Americans felt that way.
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WASHINGTON - Comedian Jimmy Kimmel went to the heart of the debate on pre-existing conditions during a monologue last week. He talked about the birth of his son Billy, who was born with a heart condition that required surgery within days of his birth.

Billy Kimmel is doing fine now, but the situation was traumatic for Kimmel and his wife, Molly. At least, Kimmel noted, they didn’t have to worry about whether their child would be treated.
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Saturday, April 29
What is state Rep. Byron Donalds thinking? Somebody needs to buy him a pacifier.

Elected in 2016, the Republican legislator from Naples is already whining about the Sunshine Law.
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Here’s an anatomical theory for you: Nature has given each person two vital organs. One is situated between our ears; the other one is just below our waistline. Unfortunately, nature has supplied only enough blood for us to operate one of these organs at a time. When the lower organ takes over, blood flow to the brain automatically shuts down. And vice versa.

Which tends to explain some of the actions of Bill O’Reilly and several million other famous and lesser-known men around the world. (And a substantial number of women, from what I’ve heard.)
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Saturday, April 29
It’s no secret that when people donate their time and money to nonprofit organizations that help those in need, it has a positive impact.

And when your company gets involved, you’ll find that helping out can help you, too. From boosting a company’s employee morale to strengthening connections in the community, companies in the Tampa Bay area can benefit in a number of ways when they give back.
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Tuesday, April 25
WASHINGTON - Journalist Selena Zito famously summed up President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign when she wrote, “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”

In September 2016 when Zito’s apt assessment appeared in The Atlantic, Gallup reported its lowest approval rating ever - of the news media. A mere 32 percent of Americans said they had a great deal or fair amount of trust in the very journalism pack that challenged Trump’s legitimacy from the moment the real estate developer descended a Trump Tower escalator to announce his candidacy.
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If you don’t fully understand what’s going on in today’s daily news cycle, don’t feel bad. I don’t understand much of it myself. I’m not sure if anyone does. Following are several recent thoughts that have filtered through the holes in my mind.

THE OPTIONS ON THE TABLE. As I write this, Vice President Mike Pence is in South Korea assuring our allies that, in coping with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Ding-Dong, all of the U.S. options are on the table. My question is this: where is the table? And where can we get a full list of the options?
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Tuesday, April 18
The era of good feelings is the term used to describe the aftermath of the War of 1812 where the American nation sought to establish national unity during a period of one-party dominance.

The Federalist Party, representing the urban and aristocratic citizens, disappeared after the disastrous Hartford Convention in 1814, leaving only the Jeffersonian Republicans as the sole political party.
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Albert Einstein said there are only two ways to escape the misery of life: music and cats.

To that, I would add books. Can you imagine the world existing without books? I can’t, or at least I don’t want to.
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Tuesday, April 11
It’s a paradox in America’s ongoing experiment with self-government that we depend on the weakest branch of government to defend us from the more powerful ones.

The founders gave a lot of thought and ink to this. Writing in the “Federalist,” Alexander Hamilton pointed out that the judiciary would always be “least dangerous” to the public’s freedoms because it would be “least in a capacity to annoy or injure them.”
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Have you been receiving a lot of unsolicited phone calls lately? I have, and I don’t much like it. Nor does my cat Ellie. Each time the phone rings she gives me one of her several pre-rehearsed looks. Her phone-ring look says, “Please answer it, old boy. I hate that sound.”

Even so, I often refuse to answer the call. This allows my TAD (telephone answering device) to talk to the caller and to take his/her message. If the call is a sales pitch, there is seldom any message left. Sales pitchers want to talk to a live person, preferably someone who is gullible, uneducated and very rich. I’m only semi-qualified on all three counts, so I’m a bad target for phone sales.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - When Donald Trump was a private individual in 2013, he used Twitter to tell President Barack Obama to refrain from attacking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who had used chemical weapons to poison his own people.

“No upside and tremendous downside,” Trump typed.
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Tuesday, April 4
I wonder if Florida’s dismal ranking as being among the worst state legislatures in 2012 has improved.

Florida was the sixth worst back then, according to a Mother Jones’ writer.
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Community Calender
• Saturday, May 27, 2017
Author event
DUNEDIN – Julianne Black will introduce her creation “My Dunedin Coloring Book” at an event on Saturday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Sweet Peas Café, 434 Virginia Lane, Dunedin.

“My Dunedin Coloring Book” is a series of sketches, impressions and inspirations centered in and around Dunedin. The coloring book features 32 pages of landscapes and animals. Dunedin fans will recognize local shops and eateries, beach scenes, festivals and more.

Subject matter and variety of detail from page to page make it an easy fit for any age or art ability.

The free Sweet Peas event will feature a book signing, entertainment and fun as well as a story time by the author at 11 a.m. Black will read from a few of her previous titles. All ages are welcome.

Black has written and illustrated over a dozen books, including “Sleep Sweet” the multi-award winning augmented reality, animated children’s book. She is an internationally recognized graphic artist as well as full-time creative. She works in a myriad of artistic mediums. For information, visit www.julianneblack.com.
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Birding 101
CLEARWATER – Birding 101 will be presented Saturday, May 27, 10:30 a.m., at Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center, 2750 Park Trail Lane, Clearwater.

The program will provide an introduction into the fastest growing hobby/activity worldwide. Attendees will learn about bird identification. 

The event is free. Call 727-793-2976.
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Bizarre Bazaar
LARGO – Creations of the wonderfully strange from around the Tampa Bay area will be coming to Arkane Aleworks, 2480 East Bay Drive, for the Bizarre Bazaar on Saturday, May 27, 2 to 6 p.m.

Head out to the beer garden to check out unusual handcrafted items for purchase. The event also will feature live music, food and beer releases.
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Guided hike
ST. PETERSBURG – A guided hike will be offered Saturday, May 27, 9 to 11 a.m., at Weedon Island Preserve, 1800 Weedon Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the ecosystems and the early residents of Weedon Island Preserve while hiking the coastal uplands and the boardwalks through mangrove forests. The program is best for ages 6 and older.

Preregistration is required.

Visit www.weedonislandpreserve.eventbrite.com.

Call 727-453-6500 or visit www.weedonislandpreserve.org.
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Our Wildest Place hike
TARPON SPRINGS – A wildlife hike will be offered Saturday, May 27, 9 to 11 a.m., at Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.

Attendees will join an experienced naturalist for a free hike along boardwalks and natural trails at Brooker Creek Preserve. Binoculars and cameras are recommended.

Advance registration is required. To register, visit www.brookercreekpreserve.eventbrite.com. For information, call 727-453-6800.
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Seasons of Florida Photography Hike
TARPON SPRINGS – The Seasons of Florida Photography Hike will be Saturday, May 27, 8:30 to 10:30 a.m., at Brooker Creek Preserve, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.

Participants will join photographers and naturalists Karl and Kathleen Nichter to explore and photograph the natural beauty of Brooker Creek Preserve. Photography tips and techniques will be discussed. In the event of rain, there will be a classroom session. The hike is free.

Advance registration required.

Register online at www.brookercreekpreserve.eventbrite.com.

Call 727-453-6800.
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Suncoast Herpetological Society meeting
CLEARWATER – The Suncoast Herpetological Society will meet Saturday, May 27, 6 to 8 p.m., at Moccasin Lake Environmental Education Center, 2750 Park Trail Lane.

The Suncoast Herpetological Society is a nonprofit, educational, and recreational club for people interested in reptiles and amphibians with an emphasis on responsible husbandry and captive breeding. The Suncoast Herpetological Society provides educational talks to Pinellas County residents as well as the surrounding counties and communities. Each month a speaker discusses a herpetological topic at the meeting, and he or she goes into the community giving talks at libraries, schools and environmental education centers.

Cost is a $1 suggested donation per person.

For information, call 727-793-2976. Visit www.kingsnake.com /suncoastherpsociety.
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Wildflower Garden Club meeting
TARPON SPRINGS – The Friends of Brooker Creek Preserve will meet Saturday, May 27, 9 to 11 a.m., at Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center, 3940 Keystone Road, Tarpon Springs.

Attendees will help make the Wildflower Garden at Brooker Creek Preserve the best it can be. Pam Brown, Master Gardener, is the leader and teaches the best practices of garden maintenance.

The activity is free and advance registration is not required. Call 727-453-6800 or visit www.friendsofbrookercreekpreserve.org.
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• Sunday, May 28, 2017
Corey Avenue Sunday Market
ST. PETE BEACH – The Corey Avenue Sunday Market, located on Corey Avenue between Boca Ciega Avenue and Gulf Boulevard on St. Pete Beach, is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 2-May 28.

The market supports vendors who sell a variety of locally produced and homemade items including produce, plants, take home foods, ready to eat lunch bites, hand crafts, eco-friendly and fair trade products. For information, visit www.TampaBayMarkets.com.

 
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• Monday, May 29, 2017
Memorial Day ceremony
ST. PETERSBURG – The Bay Pines VA Healthcare System will commemorate Memorial Day with a ceremony on Monday, May 29, 10 a.m., at the Bay Pines National Cemetery, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., St. Petersburg.

This is the only National Cemetery in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and the largest observance of Memorial Day with more than 4,000 expected attendees. Veterans, their families and friends, and the general public are invited to attend.

Prior to the ceremony, on Saturday, May 27, volunteers from the community will mark more than 35,000 graves at the cemetery with U.S. flags to honor the men and women who served the nation.

Keynote speaker for the event will be U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Edward W. Sandlin, commander of Air Station Clearwater. Other speakers include U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and local VA leaders from the Bay Pines VAHCS, St. Petersburg VA Regional Office and Bay Pines National Cemetery. The master of ceremonies will be Fox 13 anchor and reporter Alcides Segui. The ceremony also will feature musical performances by the Suncoast Symphony Orchestra and traditional military tributes.

Vietnam veterans who attend the ceremony may receive a commemorative lapel pin and other items as part of the Bay Pines VAHCS’s continued commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Click here to learn more about the commemoration.

Parking for the ceremony will be available nearby. Shuttles will provide transportation for guests from parking lots to the National Cemetery. The venue is handicapped accessible. A sign language interpreter will be available for the hearing impaired. The ceremony will be held rain or shine. Please plan appropriately for inclement weather.

For information about the event or to volunteer to help mark graves, call 727-319-6479.
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Tampa Bay Newspapers
9911 Seminole Blvd.,
Seminole, FL 33772
Phone: (727) 397-5563
Fax: (727) 397-5900
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