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9/16/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

As with most of the pseudo-political convoluted relationships conjured in our Happytown™ heads, there almost inevitably comes a time when we stumble into the abyss of romantic disillusionment. We get a little moody, maybe, or our left eye gets a resentment twitch that commands our immediate attention. This week, that left eye is looking at you, Alex Sink. Yeah, yeah, we know that you are the only hope that progressives have for protecting this unfair state from four more years of good ol’ boy back-scratching; hell, the legislature is already teetering on a Republican supermajority capable of diffusing your veto power, so this might all be in vain. But while we still have a chance – what should be a very big chance considering that you’re polling well and your gubernatorial foil Rick Scott is a close cousin of Lex Luthor – it seems like the right time to throw you a few pointers. It’s not because we don’t like you, Alex. We just want you to be better. And you can be better.

We’d like to say it all started with your recent television advertising campaign, the rather limp counterattack on Scott’s attempts to make the Florida election a national referendum on President Obama, but that would be too easy. In fact, we’ve seen you speak in person a few times during the past year – even had conversations with you – and the takeaway has repeatedly been one of cautious suspicion. On one hand, we liked that you always seemed to be avoiding the fetid red meat of the standard Floridian social issues – you’re a former bank executive after all, one with a presumed wheelhouse full of business ideas. On the other, your folksy “playing it down the middle” strategy, as delivered through your pronounced Southern drawl, is starting to wear thin. Get a media coach. 

   Case in point: Your appearance last week on “The Daily Rundown” on MSNBC with Chuck Todd was embarrassing to watch. Your clumsy dry-throat parroting of “I’m bringing my own unique set of business experience” and “a more businesslike focus” to the office came off as amateurish and even evasive. If Todd asks you what you think of lame-duck Gov. Charlie Crist’s policies, have an answer ready. Something curt like, “Well, look where it got us,” would suffice. Then throw out a few bullet points about what you’d do differently: “I’d show up,” “I’d listen,” “I would aggressively approach our failing educational system and close up some of the loopholes that are feeding the fat cats gold bullion for dinner.” Oh, we don’t know, just something of substance.

Then came the news on Thursday Sept. 9 that you had launched your own electioneering committee (or 527, a group allowing donations beyond the legal $500 per donor) just two days after you evaded a question on that very matter, according the Palm Beach Post.  Fine, you’re going to need some extra money if you’re going to go up against billionaire Scott’s personal war chest, but Scott’s already beat you to that punch with his own 527 and has tucked away nearly double what your entire $7.5 million campaign is worth. Maybe you should have appealed that pro-Scott court ruling from July that would have made more public funds available to you. Instead you (or your flack, rather) used your own lack of energy to challenge the ruling as a springboard for an attack on Scott’s checkered Medicare and Medicaid past.

“He’s trying to buy the governor’s office with people’s money that he already pocketed,” your camp told the Post, referring to the $1.7 billion in fraud fines Scott’s hospital chain had to pay almost 10 years ago. Well, duh, Alex. The “buying the office” storyline didn’t work out too well for Bill McCollum now, did it?

I guess what we’re really saying here, Alex, is that your have-it-both-ways campaign – playing Democrat while scrubbing Obama’s name from your website and basically dissing him for his economic positions on national television – is a recipe for Floridian disaster. If you’re going to be a Democrat, be a fucking Democrat. Your absence of palpable charisma isn’t enough to carve your own bipartisan path to the governor’s office, not enough to drag a beleaguered liberal base to the polls and not enough for us anymore. There’s still time, Alex. Do something. 

Not content to simply be known as the crazy state where police departments explode toy ponies adjacent to schoolyards, rambling evangelical Jed Clampetts command audiences with global political figures in case they decide to end the world with a book burning or, well, Casey Anthony, Florida found some external notoriety last week – this time with guns! The shadowy 500- member group known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns (which includes Orlando’s mayor, oddly) released a report on Sept. 7 showing that Florida is among the top 10 states providing illegal firearms to the crazy emo-killing cartels of sunny Mexico! During the past four years, a total of 465 “crime guns” made their way from Florida to Mexico according to figures from the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, though 40 percent of all of the illegal guns came directly from Texas. 

The news comes on the heels of President Obama and Congress throwing $37 million at the ATF’s trafficking operations on the border last month. But for the mayoral coalition, that’s not quite enough. Apparently the time between which guns are being sold and then turning up in Mexico is decreasing – “a sign of even more sophisticated gun trafficking,” according to the group – so it’s high time that Congress considers closing that “gun show loophole” that allows purchasers to bypass background checks and run more quickly toward the tequila. Wait, did someone say gun limits? Uh-oh, the National Rifle Association is on line one.

“This national group of anti-gun mayors has lobbied Congress against…,” their statement coughed. Well, you know the rest: ATF is corrupt, right-to-carry permits are in trouble, privacy for law-abiding gun owners means nothing and, gasp, they’re “regulating gun shows out of existence.” Also, fuck the Mexicans. 

Think back for a moment,to before the day when JetBlue airlines made news when flight attendant Steven Slater jumped out of an emergency-exit door of the just-landed airliner he was working on, slid down the escape chute and made himself an “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore” populist hero. Had you ever thought much about JetBlue before that (except for that one time back in March when they decided to ditch us for a new headquarters in New York)? Neither did we.

 But now, just as the memories of smarmy Slater’s face are finally fading from our overhead compartments, JetBlue is in the news again. For another I’m-going-to-jump-out-of-this-airplane stunt.

 Playboy model Tiffany Livingston was on a flight from Orlando to New York, of course, when a bit of turbulence disturbed her (mental) equilibrium. The panicky dumb bunny leapt from her seat, ran to the emergency- exit door and grabbed the handle – mid flight! Luckily, she was quickly subdued by two off-duty police officers, the plane landed and she was taken into custody. She forgot her pills. JetBlue should provide pills. 

 Now, once again, JetBlue is on our pilled minds and we’re starting to think that maybe it’s not a coincidence that two people have tried to escape from its planes in less than two months. Maybe this is some kind of bizarre viral-marketing stunt the airline is using to keep its brand permanently embedded in our subconscious. Maybe jumping out of planes is the new vogue? 

 Either that or it’s proof that only the crazy, broke and desperate fly economy airlines, even ones with tiny televisions at every seat. If you’re like Livingston – or Slater – you could end up a tiny-television star! Or fired. Or dead. Happy flying. 

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