Originally posted on:
Armitage Supporter Ed Slavin, in his blog “Clean Up St. Augustine” went a bit too far in his search for contrast between his favored candidate for FL-7 and apparent front-runner Heather Beaven. In his post supporting Republican incumbent John Mica’s bid to ban smartphones and laptops from US airlines, Slavin got a bit carried away:
"It is a matter of air safety. When we fly, we don’t want to die."
While lithium batteries have caught on fire, the number of times this has happened is dwarfed by the billions of units in service around the world. Clearly, the facts do not justify the kind of hyperbolic language on display in this post.
Likewise, Slavin’s spin of this issue as an attack on Beaven was a bit out of left field:
"Heather Beaven, the Stealth corporativist candidate from the 'monumental, $20 million dollar, growth campaign' that teaches workers nothing about OSHA."
"Heather Beaven: unsafe at any speed?"
Reading this kind of bizarre vitriol, I was compelled to respond:
"Banning lithium batteries from aircraft would mean eliminating all laptops and smartphones from air travel. This is unrealistic in the extreme, because such devices have become indispensable tools for the business traveler. Airlines have recently added WiFi to their flights in recognition of this fact. Every airport in the US has facilities for wireless networking. These devices allow business travelers to receive, send, and edit data and voice communications with their home offices, out-of-town clients, and suppliers. Banning or confiscating such devices would do much to render business travel impractical.
There have been incidents of batteries catching fire, but of the billions of units in service, the number of documented fires have numbered in the hundreds. Considering the percentage of a device’s life represented by a trans-continental flight, such a ban would represent a gross over-reaction to a very small threat. Even the arch-paranoiac Dick Cheney only applied a one-percent doctrine to his worst-case models. This would be more like a .00001 percent model, and Cheney was talking about nukes!
Look, these things have been in widespread use for a decade, and there are billions of air-miles logged a year. If this were a danger worth imposing this kind of cost, it really would have happened by now.
Furthermore, this issue is hardly the focus of Ms. Beaven’s campaign, and does not justify the inflammatory ad hominem tactics represented in this post. There are plenty of points of disagreement between Armitage and Beaven which could have been explored here, but the Bush-style scaremongering displayed here is unworthy of you or this fine blog."
It’s hard to understand why such an erratic campaigner as Armitage inspires such fervent loyalty. Whatever the political qualities of Beaven, at least she has been running a campaign. She’s been building a team, making appearances, raising money, hiring consultants, and using the media. Armitage has filed no campaign finance reports, has hired no staff, made few public appearances, and refuses to return repeated calls about her status as a candidate.
When she ran last year, she showed little aptitude for retail politics. She was able to win the primary based on the personal loyalties of fellow health care activists in her home county, but got beaten by more than twenty points in the most favorable environment for Democrats in this district since 2002. I’m personally prepared to blame myself for her primary win in 2008, but her idiosyncratic interpersonal style is a strange choice for someone who aspires to elected office. Apparently, her combative and quixotic approach is contagious.