One of my takeaways from spending time in Florida is sometimes you need to “live it” to truly get it. In this case, the “it” I am talking about is the Florida weather. There is a reason that, for 76 years, the St. Petersburg Evening Times gave away their paper if the sun did not shine in St. Pete. Florida is the "Sunshine State” and it is sunny, every day, all day.

Commercial-scale solar power makes sense here. Ski mountains and snowmobiling do not. Maybe Mainers could learn a bit from Floridians in this regard.

Speaking of learning, how is it Maine has a depressingly high state income tax and Florida has none? The answer is, in large part, that Florida taxes the snot out of tourists. I just got our rental bill; the lodging tax is 12 percent! (Sen. Herbig, I hope you are reading this!)

But Florida is not a perfect paradise: For some reason the Sunshine State does not levy a deposit on beverage containers. This results in a lot more roadside litter than we have in Maine. Florida needs a bottle bill.

Another problem in paradise is the recent Red Tide outbreak really hurt tourism. Unfortunately, as with so many things nowadays, the effects of the Red Tide were endlessly featured and hyped by the local media. One network even claimed the Red Tide was President Trump’s fault. (OK, I made that up!)

Yes, last year’s Red Tide lasted longer and hit more areas than usual. But, absent the relentless media coverage, the adverse economic consequences to Florida’s tourism industry would have been far less. People cancelled vacations and fishing trips for no reason — sort of like how Maine’s schools and business close up shop based on a snowy weather forecast.

Unfortunately, the national media no longer just report the facts; they shape events to fit their agenda and bombard “We the People” via every platform at their disposal, with Facebook and the all “news” TV stations leading the charge.

The recent events related to Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann are a perfect example. Sandmann is a minor (16 years old), and at no time was he accused of a crime (wearing a MAGA hat is completely legal).

Not so long ago, it would have been out of bounds for the media to reveal the name of an innocent minor and the innocuous events at the Lincoln Memorial would have never made the news. But the media saw the kid’s MAGA hat and behavior as a chance to bash Trump.

The 24/7 “deporting” shifted into high gear (deporting is the new word I will be using to describe stories that are first distorted and then reported). Sandmann’s name and reputation are forever tainted by the deporting that painted him as a racist and no amount of apologizing will change that.

Here is hoping Sandmann wins several big lawsuits and gets very rich. From what I know of the young man, I am guessing a large part of any compensation he receives from the deporters like The Washington Post will be used to benefit others.

And then we have the fake news stories staged to make President Trump look bad. The fake portion of the story gets 24/7 coverage. But, at least in the past, once the fraud was discovered, the follow-up story was buried. Maybe, just maybe, the Jussie Smollett travesty will be a game-changer.

To refresh your memory: Well after midnight on Jan. 29, while returning to his Chicago home, Smollett claimed he was attacked by two men shouting “This is MAGA country.” He reported being beaten, doused with bleach and having a noose tied around his neck.

The media went wild with glee. Trump-bashing kicked into high gear. Presidential hopefuls, Kamala Harris and Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker, called the attack a “modern-day lynching.” Bernie Sanders said “The racist and homophobic attack on Jussie Smollett is a horrific instance of the surging hostility toward minorities around the country.” NAACP President Derrick Johnson tweeted “The rise in hate crimes is directly linked to President Donald J. Trump’s racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”

Umm, except the whole event was staged. Smollett paid two of his friends to “attack” him. What happens next will be very telling. I am not a big fan of Rosanne Barr, but her “crime” was to tweet an “un-PC” joke about Valerie Jarrett that some people found offensive (I actually thought the joke was funny and find Valerie Jarrett offensive).

ABC immediately cancelled Rosanne’s show and effectively ended her career. A month after Smollett’s staged attack, and after being charged with a felony for lying to the police, Smollett was still on the payroll of the TV show “Empire.”

When not deporting, the national media love to present the political opinions of “stars” who work in the sports and entertainment industry, implying that what these folks think is particularly relevant. Really? Just because you can convincingly pretend to be someone you are not (that is what actors do, right?), or play a children’s game better than me, that elevates your opinion above mine?

Well, here is my opinion: Pro athletes are rich, ignorant, spoiled thugs — maybe not all, but many. And then there are the drug-addled paragons of virtue in the music industry: Why should anyone care what multimillionaire, one-trick ponies like Cher, Madonna, Springsteen and their ilk think about Donald Trump? I do not remember the media seeking out John Wayne, Elvis Presley, Doris Day, Jackie Gleason and Bob Hope to ask who they supported for President! Ditto for the pro athletes of yesteryear!

Yet, today, what actors, singers and sports stars have to say about politics is reported like it is gospel! And worse, there is a segment of our population that listens to this crap.

Global warming update

According to the National Weather Service, for the first time in 132 years, the February temperature did not reach 70 degrees in downtown Los Angeles. The average high for the month was 61 degrees, which makes it the eighth-coldest February on record for the city. And it is not just the Left Coast that is below normal.

My brother in cold, snowy Maryland offered the following update: “Scientists now claim that global warming is disrupting the Arctic air masses, causing them to push farther south and produce colder than normal winters. The conclusion is inescapable, if we do not address global warming, we will all end up freezing to death.”

Randall Poulton lives in Winterport. His columns appear every other week in The Republican Journal.