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Madman from the Road

June 24, 2008


Due to a lightning storm and the lack of a decent internet connection last night's Note From a Madman had to be scrapped. Today I'm publishing an abbreviated Note From a Madman and will return to a more regular schedule soon. -NG from the Road

Choose Pandering

I'm on vacation. I made the mistake and asked my daughter what she wanted to do for her twenty-first birthday. She chose a cruise, but times being what they are, and prices being what they are, we took the cheap way out and booked a four-day, three-night, two-island deal out of Miami. That's the same Miami which lays about 1300 miles from our home in New Jersey. And, yes, we drove it (and are still driving home as I write this).

But this little story I write isn't about the fun time we had on the dolphin encounter in the Bahamas or even the long, but fun trip we took as father and daughter down I-95. It's about license plates - one license plate to be specific.


It's a cute little license plate with the smiling faces of a young cartoon girl and boy drawn on the left, FLORIDA stamped on bottom and the words "Choose life" (Capital "C"; lower case "l") written as if a child wrote it with their shaky little just-learning-how-to-write on the top.

Isn't  that cute.

But it wasn't the cuteness of the license plate that got my attention. In fact, the first time I saw it I wasn't quite sure that I had read it right. After all, such a political and obvious pander to one group certainly couldn't have made it passed the Florida legislation, could it?

Florida has many different license plates with numerous designs, and I saw them all. However, this was the only truly memorable one.

In New York you may have the logo of your favorite New York sports team emblazoned on your license plates (Go Yankees!). Why, you can even offer your fellow drive a virtual "terrorist fist-bump" as you speed by him on the Cross Bronx Expressway if you like.

But this is different. Choose life is the only political issue for many Americans. In 2000, up to twenty-three percent of those who voted described themselves as "values voters" with seventy-eight percent of them casting their ballots for George W. Bush. And in Florida, they certainly would have made up a large number of those who fit into that category.

The Choose life plate idea began in 1997 and instituted in 1999. For those of you wondering, that was the year Jeb Bush was sworn in as Florida's governor. Some original ideas about the plate were to have it say "Choose Adoption" or "Support Adoption" rather than the more controversial and politically motivated "Choose Life" slogan which ended up on it.

Imagine having a means of identifying those whose "values" are the same as yours on election day in 2008. Some of you will remember those in Democratic-leaning areas of Florida on election day 2000 who complained that their normal routes to the polls were blocked by Sheriff's deputies making it harder for them to cast their vote. How convenient it is then to have a way of actually seeing who should and who shouldn't have their right to decide removed.

Makes things a lot easier, doesn't it?

Perhaps Florida didn't go far enough with their license plate choices. They could offer the John McCain plate which says something like, "I'm 4 McCain - Let Me Through", for example.

So in the spirit of good will, I offer up some more Florida license plate choices for people from the Sunshine State:

-Choose Pandering
-Choose Incompetence (in case anyone from the soon-to-be-out Bush administration moves to Florida)
-Choose Death - after all there should be an alternative to choose life, right?
-Choose War (see Choose Incompetence)
-Choose Stupidity (need I say more?)
-Choose A Closed Mind

And how about Choose-a-Partner. Similar in design to the children on the Choose Life plate, there can be a cartoon of a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman on the plate smiling happily. Certainly they would sell some of these "alternative" license plates in South Beach.. They could even charge a premium for them and make a fortune!

The Choose Life plate is simply pandering for votes from a state who relies upon dividing their citizens for political gain. And even thought other states have the "Choose Life plate as well, but in Florida its purpose acts more out of politics and pandering than anything else. This license plate isn't the same as having "Save Wildlife" or your alma matter printed on it. No, this was put there as yet another wedge to be thrown between people to divert their attention away from the other issues such as health care, the Iraq war jobs and the economy.

I think I want a license plate of my own. How about Choose All People with the proceeds going to supplying health care for those without. let's call it HEALTH CARE FOR ALL NOW instead. What do you think?

-Noah Greenberg

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-Noah Greenberg