Fear and Loathing in Tampa

From cash-hungry strippers to protesters dressed as vaginas, your gonzo guide to the Republican National Convention

Scott's biggest priority in office, though, has echoed his Republican overlords' national plans: Suppress poor and minority voters. Last summer, he signed a law that slashed early voting from 14 days to eight and outlawed voting on the Sunday before an election, coincidentally the day that black churchgoers usually drive en masse to vote for Democrats. The law made it more difficult for liberal-leaning students to update their addresses to get ballots, and it threatened voter-registration groups with fines. Even the Boy Scouts of America took offense.

And Scott targeted Hispanics by ordering a purge of "potentially ineligible" voters from the rolls. It turned out that hundreds were perfectly legit citizens—including one guy who had survived combat in World War II.

You might think you're safe from this insanity in your East Village apartment or Los Angeles rancho, but the Republicans' Frankenstein-like experimentation in Florida is already beginning to spread. The most infamously insane idea to go viral is the Stand Your Ground law, at the heart of neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman's defense for fatally shooting unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.

Normally, in order to claim self-defense, someone is required to retreat from a threat before opening fire. But in 2005, Florida put the onus on prosecutors to show shooters' lives were not in danger. Soon, the legislation quickly spread to 24 other states.

In Florida, Stand Your Ground has been used by drug dealers to escape murder charges, invoked by one guy after shooting a bear, and cited by a jogger who beat a Jack Russell terrier. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the law is unevenly enforced to favor whites over blacks and Hispanics. And researchers at Texas A&M University recently found it has increased homicides across the nation.

Sadly, Stand Your Ground isn't the only scourge Florida has unleashed upon the States. Decades of deregulation have made it the epicenter of the country's foreclosure crisis. That same blind faith in business has also turned it into a veritable Scam-istan, ruled by Ponzi schemers such as retiree-bilking Bernie Madoff, cricket-crazy R. Allen Stanford, golden-toilet-owning attorney Scott Rothstein, bogus University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, and dozens of others.

Meanwhile, poor residents have borne the brunt of steep budget cuts. Programs for mental health, substance abuse, and the homeless have been slashed. So when "Miami Zombie" Rudy Eugene ate the face off of indigent Ronald Poppo a few months ago, Floridians weren't nearly as surprised as the rest of the nation.

Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn has Technicolor nightmares of what could go wrong at the RNC. The moderate Democrat didn't ask for his city to host the event. But if anything goes awry, it will be endlessly looped on television and YouTube, and he'll be blamed.

"Other than the Olympics, this will be the most-watched television event in the world this year," he says. "So yeah, hosting a convention in the middle of hurricane season in this economic and political environment leads to a little gray hair."

Inside the convention center will be titans of industry, the billionaire Koch brothers, hordes of Tea Partiers in tricornered hats, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News freaks, Karl Rove with his Crossroads GPS Super PAColytes, and a few thousand fawning female Christian fundamentalists toting "Enraptured by Paul Ryan" signs.

On the other side of the picket line will be those resisting America's rightward shift: Code Pink matriarchs clad as papier-mâché vulvas, carbon-neutral nouveau hippies, and the moldy leftovers of the Occupy movement. More than 15,000 protesters are expected. Videos threatening violence, supposedly by international hacker group Anonymous, have already been uploaded online.

"Mayor Buckhorn can shove his authoritarian zones up his ass," says a masked protester in one video. "When protest becomes illegal, there is no other option left but to fight."

Buckhorn says demonstrators have nothing to fear: "I've been very clear from the get-go that if you're coming here to protest, you're welcome. But if you step out of line, and if you're coming here to cause mayhem, we are going to deal with you."

The mayor is a cheery man with bright, beady eyes dropped like blueberries onto a doughy face. In true American fashion, he'll be happy if he can survive August with maximum profit and minimum scandal.

"I'm agnostic until the convention is over. For me, it's not about red state, blue state. It's about green," Buckhorn admits, estimating that the convention will bring Tampa more than $175 million.

Bipartisan bonhomie goes only so far, though. The Secret Service prohibits guns within the convention center, but in a state with more than a million concealed-weapons permits, Tampa will be swimming in sidearms. When Buckhorn asked the governor to ban concealed weapons temporarily in town during the convention, Scott scoffed.

"I'm not an anti-gun kind of guy," Buckhorn says. "I've got guns. Up until probably six months ago, I had a concealed-weapons permit. But to interject guns into a potentially combustible environment to me is absurd."

He says Scott's snarky response was probably written by the National Rifle Association. "He has his opinions about the Second Amendment, and he isn't going to let the safety of the public or our police officers get in the way of it."

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30 comments
JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

Well, the convention is over, and only about 300 protesters showed up rather than the 15,000 predicted in your article. There are a lot of reports out there that the strip clubs actually made far less money while the convention was in town than they would have made during a normal week. When you write your companion piece about the Democratic convention in Charlotte, I hope that you don't waste over half of the article talking about stuff that really didn't turn out to be of any consequence to the event like you did with this one. Maybe you should do like Hunter S. Thompson did, and actually go to the convention and write about it afterwards.

Zoiks
Zoiks

This is a great article.  The "stand your ground" law is a great example of how what these anarcho-fascists do in their Florida "test lab" can spread like a cancer through the nation. 

defrockedbitterapost
defrockedbitterapost

"Believe in America" from a tax fraud that closes companies and lays off workers and sends their jobs to third world countries while he pockets tents of millions of dollars each time all while refusing to pay taxes, hiding his money in secret numbered bank arrounts.

 

These Republican dung heap Christians are evil. Every one of them. They don't "believe in America," they believe in war crimes, baby killing for Jesus, and treason of every country they infest.

elawgrrl
elawgrrl

@craigtimes jerks - however, if that keeps a few carpetbaggers away I'll take it!

organicsulfur
organicsulfur

Organic sulfur can make those stupid enough to go the the Fear and Loathing Party smart enough to vote for Anonymous over Mutt or Jeff.

If you have your health, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,is a cake walk.  Mutt or Jeff just want to make your sickness profitable to the one percent, we don't need no guns to let reason and the almighty dollar function.  Want to scare a CEO, whisper boycott in their ear.

Hunter Thompson received a 1776 belt buckle from this artist, advertised as "bullet proof."  Fear and Loathing is what drives the republicans, democrats as well, left brain triggers, "you nigger!"

Organic sulfur addresses stupidity, born or acquired from the fear and loathing of our vaccination program based on a lie, and profit.  Somebody pays, too often our children or parents.

It could be too late for Tampa, we will send the sulfur punch crew, and are taking applications for those who wish to be a citizen, and a Republican.

Organicsulfur@sisna.com is the Cellular Matrix Study and the Campaign headquarters of Anonymous for President, the third parties best hope to avoid "fear and loathing."

Gill Scott Heron, died not from Heroin but from the fear and loathing in that hospital, his words ring on, the revolution will not be televised, but we win.

As Hunter S. Thompson said in some interview, if we would all vote, all of us, we can prevail.

The Name of Anonymous will be revealed the day before the election, who can Mutt and Jeff attack?

We are 270,000 since Hunter S. Thompson referred to the one percent, they are still the one percent when it takes  two to tango and 3% to rule.  Isn't greed interesting?

Anonymous  for President 2012.

 

@

 

ejstembler
ejstembler

@joelintampa Wow, that article is bad

BeerTampa
BeerTampa

@joelintampa @bobbuckhorn seems like this story was more about FL and the governor than Tampa.

thommyberlin1
thommyberlin1

Re-e-e-e-e-ally. I'm a Floridian. I've been fighting against these bastards longer than anyone I know. While these charges are mostly true, it is not the native Floridians who should shoulder the blame for these imported fucks, and I'll be damned if I get painted with the same brush. Watch the polls Michael, and mind the sharks.prusin, you wouldn't know a fascist if he fell on you.  (hey... fascists are conservatives... dumb ass)

prusin
prusin

Redner should be looking at the current CinC (Barry--BarackHussein Obama, Jr.--FrankMarshall--Davis-Soetoro) for a Reich style takeover of the U.S. Barry is for certain a Marxist with National Socialist leaning tendencies. For all those on the left who don't see it, well, you are in for a big surprise when you become an unemployed state slave, and/or a slave to the state (super high taxation) if you are employed. Redistribution always brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator (the poorest individual), which is what we are about to become under Barry Hussein Soetoro if he is elected to another 4 year term.

prusin
prusin

Mandvi is a "native son" (of Florida) from Mumbai, India, via Great Britain? EGADS! Who writes this nonsense? You cannot be native unless born here. Mandvi is not native, unless your being racist here in describing him as a "native.' Where I come from that, also, often, means "primitive." V V wouldn't be making a funny would it? If so, it's not humorous.

prusin
prusin

I've never heard so much scare tactic drivel about anything in my life. The scariest part of page 2 is that there are leftists and anarchists who talk about riots, and bloodshed, fighting, and mayhem if they don;t get to do what they want where they want to? Really? Of course, "rule of law" long ago died in the U.S. thanks to leftist introductions of rights (job, Health Care, housing) that don't exist w/o the responsibility to provide them yourselves by working your tail off if necessary. Even the right to keep & bear arms comes with the responsibility to do so in a manner consistent with the constitution, and within the parameters of not only protecting others rights, but making sure you do not intrude on their right(s). The Republicans have as much a right to "peaceably" assemble as do the protestors. But the protestors instead threaten anarchy, rioting, mayhem, death? That's the left for you.

lesheight
lesheight

I've lived in Florida my whole life of 50+ years and you've got the place down cold.

prusin
prusin

How can a law to test applicants to a give away program (welfare) be unconstitutional (4th Amendment)? If one doesn't wish to take the test, they need not apply for the welfare. But, you;d think the VV would want people to get drug tested if it helps them become productive citizens n the long run, right? Apparently, not. It would prefer people be drug laden, future suicide s, to them getting any real medical help with their addiction problem. Huh! Sounds a bit ridiculous to me.

prusin
prusin

A bit hoplophobic Village Voice? Why the EMPHASIS on guns so often in the article? Why the belief that Republicans are all of one mold, and all pro-gun, or anti-gay? And what makes the VV so willing to believe that anyone with a gun is going to get into the Republican convention? I would be more likely to see a Democratic nut job outside the convention trying to see if they can pop off a few rounds at some Republican. As to your contention that we are all willing to kill any opponent, I would really like to see where you get your false statistics, or, is this purely rhetoric to scare people away from the Republican Party? Yes, thinking minds know what is what regardless of the drivel this paper sometimes promotes as fact. As for Hunter S. Thompson quote, I've yet  to hear more drivel from the LameMainStreamLeftMedia in a long time.

Fresh_Pineal_Gland
Fresh_Pineal_Gland

The illustrator, Rick Sealock, is channeling Ralph Steadman beautifully. Great work!

encyclomedia
encyclomedia

... I'm so happy journalism is still alive ~ thank you VV!

GreatMartin
GreatMartin

When the hurricane hits will the preachers blame the Republicans for His wrath???

Tessa
Tessa

Amazing story, loved it, shared it about 4 times already on Facebook and I just got to the last page. Bravo! Excellent reporting by the VV as always!!

Jen Setteducato
Jen Setteducato

Wish HST was here today to comment on this year's circus, er, election.

repete86
repete86

@villagevoice as someone who lives here, I think that you're being too nice to this strange time capsule of the worstworst of the 1960s.

Flaman
Flaman

Miller seems to have caught the right drift of the State of Florida particularly well.  Especially our esteemed Governor who made his fortune off purloined government  welfare payments.  The saddest aspect of this hilarious essay is the hollowness of the protesters:  Abortion zealots and know nothings.  Alas, the pending hurricane will steal the show.  Well written.

vito33
vito33

The trees are the right height!

j_swinbanks
j_swinbanks

@lukebuckmaster @villagevoice Agreed, great article.

LiveWithUsNYC
LiveWithUsNYC

@villagevoice are there any rnc viewing parties for liberals in the city?

igmo123
igmo123

 @thommyberlin1 LOL....ooooooo...scary.....you reek of flop sweat and fear, the signature scent of the poseur's cabal...man up tommy, this clown is done.  There's a poll being conducted in early November...watch it.  

leaf
leaf

 @prusin I don't believe that you understand either Marxism or National Socialism. How could a Marxist (far left) have National Socialist (far right) tendencies? If your comment is full of logical inconsistencies and displays a lack of knowledge, then why should people listen to what you say?

 

Moreover, the President's name is Barack Hussein Obama, not "Hussein Sotero". Choosing to refer to him by a name you know to be incorrect is not only rude, but makes it sound like you think that implying someone to be of Middle Eastern, East African or South Asian descent is an insult. It makes you sound like you don't think of Obama as being as American as you are. All of those things reflect badly on someone, but it's not President Obama.

prusin
prusin

 @leaf  I understand Marxism/Socialism, communism, NAZIism quite well, It is you who apparently have been misled. Socialism/communism, and National Socialism are two sides of the same coin. Both are socialist in nature. At their core belief is socialist policy where all work together for the betterment of the community. Who guides those depends on the path they follow. In Germany, following Hitler led to World War, concentration camps, and millions of dead. Communism such as that practiced by the Soviet Union resulted in the deaths of tens of millions from starvation, and purges. In the u.S. Republicanism with a Constitution as it base is the right, It is a right that determines individual freedom , and rights. See, once upon a time i thought similar to you. I believed what the 'tards who teach today taught me until I got schooled myself. Then I learned something else, something problematic; that being that the public education system, the LameMainStreamLeftMedia, the socialist party (Democratic Party) are all in cahoots to revise history. You are just a dupe for them. 

 

What I call Barry Hussein, or whoever he may be (he called himself Barry Soetoro in high school), has no bearing on truth, because the truth is, no one knows who Barry Soetoro is. He may not even know himself, except for knowledge he is a devout Marxist with totalitarian NAZI tendencies.

 
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