Hollywood was abuzz last month with discussion that British actress Lashana Lynch would be the new British super spy 007, thus, it seems, retiring James Bond. Thus, sigh, it's the end of an era, and no offense to Lynch, but for those men who lived vicariously through Bond, the allure of literature's coolest, most dapper fictional hero was his ability to whip the bad guys and woo the girls. Somehow, the 007 story loses steam because a beautiful woman like Lynch will have no problem getting her man.
Nonetheless, we mention that because today is the 55th anniversary since the passing of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming. Fleming, the son of a British politician, plied his trade a journalist and during World War II, he served in the Royal Navy as an intelligence officer. After the war, Fleming returned to journalism for a few years before settling down as a full-time novelist. He wrote a dozen Bond novels, beginning with "Casino Royale" in 1953, and his protagonist was very much a character of the era of the Cold War, the space race, the sports car and Playboy magazine. Critics barked at Fleming that his hero was too violent, too much the womanizer, and too chauvinistic, in the nationalist sense. Fleming once retorted, "Bond is not a hero, nor is he depicted as being very likeable or admirable. … He’s not a bad man, but he is ruthless and self-indulgent. He enjoys the fight — but he also enjoys the prizes." A Fleming biographer noted that as Bond grew more popular, Fleming strained to keep churning out the books, and the grind, atop his lifelong passion for smoking and drinking, likely contributed to the heart attack that killed him at age 56.
GARLAND: We may not know what kind of dogs James Bond might have like, but we applaud SPCA Florida in Lakeland for recently expanding its Rent A Dog program to every day of the week. The program allows prospective pet adopters from the community to spend up to four hours with dogs chosen by the kennel staff at no charge. This program is beneficial because it allows potential owners to spend several hours, and not just a few minutes at the shelter, with a dog. Now, by making it available all week, the SPCA Lakeland has increased the opportunities for adoption.
GARLAND: We applaud Polk County Tax Collector Joe Tedder. Tedder perpetually looks for ways to reduce the misery of dealing with DMV-like duties, and recently his offices in Lakeland and Davenport made available self-serve kiosks under the state's Florida MV Express initiative — which allows drivers to skip the line in renewing their vehicle registration. Early trial results indicate kiosk users can conduct their business in a little over two minutes.
GARLAND: School starts today and so we express our appreciation for the staff at Lake Wales Medical Center who came together to donate three carloads of backpacks and other school supplies to needy children in the community. Similarly we applaud New Beginnings High School and the other organizers and sponsors of this year's annual Summer Palooza. The recent event distributed 3,500 backpacks loaded with school supplies, and recipients also took home at no cost shoes, toiletries, towels and washcloths, beauty supplies, groceries, toys and educational games. Some even got free haircuts, hairstyles and manicures. Well done.
GIG: We gig The New York Times. Last week was a tough one for our nation, as we mourned 31 dead and dozens wounded in a pair of horrific mass shootings just hours apart. After President Donald Trump later spoke to denounce hatred and white supremacy, and called for all Americans to speak with "one voice" on this issue, the Times reported his comments for its first edition under a headline that read "Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism." That's fine. And that was undeniably accurate, given what Trump actually said, whether he or anyone else actually believed he meant it. Then came the liberal Twitter mob, led by Democratic politicians Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke. Critics actually accused the Times — arguably the most liberal paper in America and the leader of the Trump "resistance" — of abetting white supremacy with its 100% accurate headline — and the Times utterly capitulated. Editors changed the wording for later editions. Unbelievably, Executive Editor Dean Baquet admitted the truthful phrasing was wrong. Gig. Tell us again, anti-Trumpers, about who really is the threat to an independent media and uncovering the truth.
GIG: Speaking of the massacre in Texas, we gig Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. At least six of the 22 victims in El Paso were Mexican citizens. Ebrard, speaking on behalf of López Obrador, subsequently threatened legal action against the U.S. so, as he said in a statement, "Mexico can demand the conditions to protect to the Mexican-American community and Mexicans in the United States." Yeah, about that. According to a Fox News report from April, Mexico’s Citizens’ Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice declared Tijuana, on the California border, the most violent city in the world, with 2,519 murders in 2018, up 40% from 2017, which was actually a "record-breaking" year. Additionally, Fox noted, Mexico in 2018 "experienced an unparalleled number of murders in 2018 and 2017." Mexico's Interior Ministry reported a 33% increase in homicides in 2018, relative to 2017, launching 33,341 murder investigations. That's roughly three times the number of annual gun-related homicides in the U.S., and Mexico has roughly one-third America's population. Secure your folks on your side of the border, Mr. President and Mr. Foreign Minister, then come talk to us about your "demand."