Politics: Talla-ha-ha-see

Capital’s a Laugh Riot – But Joke’s On Us

Have you heard these two before?

“What’s the best thing to ever come out of Tallahassee?  I-10.”

“Directions to Tallahassee:  Go north ’till you smell it.  Go west ’till you step in it.”

Reason I’m in such a jovial mood is what I read last week in Newsweek.  The Daily Beast (the magazine’s media partner) commissioned a consumer-research firm to find America’s funniest cities.

Judging criteria included how many residents consider themselves to be funny, how many watch sitcoms and funny movies, and how many frequented comedy clubs in the last year.  Guess which Sunshine State city came in at No. 10.

Our own state capital.

In fact, Tally was the only Florida municipality to make the top 30.  I don’t know how the other 170 U.S. cities rated, so I can’t tell you if any South Flori-duh cities cracked the top 200.

No. 1 was Austin, followed by New Orleans, Waco, Texas; Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Philly.  (Can’t fathom why the locals would find the recession-savaged, population-disappearing Motor City, or N’awlins, which literally nearly disappeared during Katrina, bastions of humor.)

But right there, in tenth place, is the funniest place in Florida, our state capital.

It’s not hard to see why things are so funny there.  After all, it is our state capital, where clowns and jesters masquerading as state legislators are currently convened, proposing and passing all sorts of laws that add up to high comedy.

And then you’ve got the high priest of ridiculousness, that guy with the bald cranium and the piercing blue eyes whom Floridians have been shaking their heads over for the last few months ever since he was elected governor.

Here’s some of what these comedians legislators have proposed:

  • Slashing Florida’s early-voting period from two weeks to one.
  • Barring anyone who has moved or changed a name, such as newly-married women, from updating their information at the polls on Election Day and receiving a regular ballot.  They would have to cast “provisional” ballots instead.
  • Cracking down on, and expanding penalties for, groups that try to register new voters.
  • Making it even harder for citizens to change the state constitution by setting an earlier expiration date for petition signatures.

“The only thing the Republicans are doing with this bill,” said Florida Democratic Party chief Scott Arceneaux, “is trying to game the system to help Republicans.”

Oh, wait!  There’s more hilarity:

  • Proposing a significant overhaul of the state Supreme Court.

Republicans want to tinker with the court so as to come up with one that’s more sympathetic to their causes and likely to hand down favorable rulings when legislative matters end up on its docket.   Plus, having a favorable court in place will be convenient for them when the court has to review the redrawing of legislative districts in 2012.

(HA HA HA! – YOU GUYS ARE CRACKING ME UP!)

  • Forcing Medicaid recipients into managed care.
  • Stripping unions of their bargaining rights if they fall below a certain level of membership.
  • Curbing local regulation of fertilizer use.  Advocates of the restrictions say fertilizer runoff during the rainy season contributes to pollutions of rivers, bays and other surface water.
  • Making it easier for insurance companies to raise rates, such as allowing Citizens Property Insurance to raise its rates up to 25%.

(TE HE HE HE! – OH,  MAN, I CAN’T QUIT LAUGHING!)

  • Proposing voters amend the state constitution to remove the ban on providing tax dollars to religious organizations.
  • Interfering with women’s reproductive rights by requiring all to undergo an ultrasound before seeking an abortion.
  • Restricting lawsuits against hospitals, nursing homes, doctors, and foster care providers.
  • Removing the state from development decisions and reducing local governments’ ability to charge developers for the cost of roads and schools.
  • Handing over control of state prisons in 18 counties to private companies.
  • Raising utility rates for renewable energy.
  • Increasing college tuition.

(OH, PLEASE, STOP!  THIS IS TOO FUNNY!  I FEEL LIKE MY SIDES ARE ABOUT TO SPLIT!)

And this pressing concern of great import:  Choosing a state amphibian.

State Sen. Steve Oelrich (R-Cross Creek) has made damn sure that this matter is not overlooked and that the barking tree frog is officially recognized.

The Legislature, historically, can be quite a comedy club.  During the previous session, last year, a resolution was filed that would have made “Merry Christmas” the official holiday greeting of Florida.

And remember this?  A bill was introduced, but failed to pass, making bestiality – loving it up with an animal – a crime.  It failed to gain adequate support from legislators who feared  “wasting time addressing a rare crime” in the midst of an economic recession with jobs being lost.

You don’t say.

Yep, that Tally.  What a sense of humor they’ve got up there.  So funny, it hurts.

And I mean hurts.

LAID OFF

Think it’s tough for you, it’s tough these days for even celebs to get laid.  Even tougher for them to keep their dry spells hush-hush.

Rihanna blabbed to Rolling Stone she’s been celibate for four months.  Courtney Cox confided to Howard Stern that she hasn’t performed the horizontal since she split with David Arquette last October. That was when Arquette told Stern, in a previous interview, that the two hadn’t sexed it up in four months.

On the other hand, Charlie Sheen (lucky bastard or contemptible prick, depending on your take) has two, count ‘em, two girlfriends.

TOO FRUMP FOR TRUMP

Come on.  Who’s he fooling?  Trump?  For president?  To him, the White House has gotta be too bourgeois for his refined tastes.   Too small, too confining.  Too white, not enough gold plating.

And weekending at Camp David?  The Donald?  Camping it up in a cabin in the woods? Why, when he could instead be jetting off to Mar-A-Lago on weekends.

No, I don’t see it.

PEEVE OF THE WEEK

Who let the dogs in?

Some of you dog owners have taken the Fido-is-my-equal-therefore-he-goes-wherever-I-go credo too far.

Recently, while in the checkout line at an office supply store, I looked down to see a dachshund head poking out from the purse in the shopping cart of the customer in front of me.  And this week, a lady toting a pug in her arms came up behind me in line while at the post office.

“No pets,” a clerk at the counter sternly advised her.  The lady left with her dog, tying it up outside.  Uncle Sam, apparently, is a stickler on policy, so be advised, all you others thinking of bringing your four-leggeds into a federal facility.

Dogs in bookstores.  Dogs in clothing boutiques.  Dogs in the hardware store.  So far, people know enough not to bring a dog into a grocery or an eatery.  But knowing some of you morons, the violation of that protocol can’t be too far behind.

I think it’s also narcissism at play.  “Hey look at me!  Look at my dog!  Ain’t he grand?  Doesn’t he complete me?” they seem to be suggesting.  “He wins me attention and helps me stand out from everybody else.”

I detest the starlets (like Paris Hilton) who carry around a bonzai canine inside their Birkin bags, like all the other ritzy-blitzy bling and blang dripping from them, a mere trendy accessory, a status symbol.

The manager of Le Chien in NYC told New York magazine in 2005, “These girls [shopping for a teacup dog] show me their bags and say, ‘It has to live in here.’”

The same story said Hilton eventually gave her teacup chihuahua Tinkerbell to mom Kathy, in favor of an even tinier dog, Bambi, because Paris “only likes them when they’re very small, and Tinkerbell got too big.”

Somebody’s brain is teacup-sized.

I’ve got nothing against guide dogs accompanying those who legitimately require them.  A recent item in the Sun-Sentinel reports that some idiots have stooped to fraudulently acquiring phony credentials in order to pass their animals off as service dogs, allowing them to accompany their owners into restaurants and fly free in airline cabins rather than in cargo holds.

I was walking past Score nightclub on Lincoln one early evening a while back.  Right there, dead center from its open entrance, were two big dogs in front of the bar.  I can’t vouch for the sobriety of their owners – or the dogs, for that matter.  But dogs – in a bar?  Now I’ve seen it all.

Perhaps the mutts, that evening, were their owners’ designated guiders?

As for all of you dog-tied-to-the-hip dolts who promenade down Lincoln Mall at its busiest:  Have you never considered what a discombobulating world it looks like from a dog’s eye-level view?  While you’re taking in all the sights along the way, all he sees is a forest of legs surrounding him, coming and going – and he’s trying his damnedest to navigate them.

And it’s not like you and me amid a forest of trees.  At least, the trees stand still.  In this forest, the trees are all moving.  And he’s got to navigate them without getting crushed.  Lord knows how formidable this is to a large mastiff; it’s gotta be unnerving as hell for a pint-sized Chihuahua.

So leave the dogs (and your I-can’t-be-seen-without-my-doggy egos) home.  They’ll be happy you did.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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