Scott didn't stop there. He also required drug tests of every state employee, and signed a truly bizarre law banning doctors from discussing gun ownership with their patients. He let local governments steamroll the Everglades and then rejected a $2.4 billion high-speed rail system between Orlando and Tampa (which was to be paid entirely by the feds and private businesses). Why? Because trains are communist.

Scott's biggest priority in office has echoed his Republican overlords' national plans: Suppress poor and minority voters. Last summer he signed a law slashing early voting from 14 days to eight and outlawing voting on the Sunday before the election — 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.

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 a World War II combat veteran.

You might think you're safe from this insanity, 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.

Sadly, Stand Your Ground isn't the only scourge Florida has unleashed on the country. Decades of deregulation have made it the epicenter of the country's foreclosure crisis. The state is 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 chewed the face off of indigent Ronald Poppo a few months ago, Floridians weren't nearly as surprised as the rest of the nation.

Hunter Thompson would be similarly unfazed: "Civilization ends at the waterline," he once wrote. "Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top."

Oversize pink vaginas. Black Bloc anarchists. The bright-orange spurt of pepper spray into a crowd. 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."

These are strange days for Tampa, and for America. Over the past decade, political polarization has turned the country into a powder keg. Buckhorn's job is to prevent tens of thousands of convention conservatives and left-leaning protesters from combusting on his streets. It won't be easy. If the nation has long been coming apart at the seams, Tampa could be the crotch that finally splits wide open.

Inside the convention center will be titans of industry, the billionaire Koch brothers, hordes of Tea Partiers in tricorn hats, Bill O'Reilly and Fox News freaks, Karl Rove with his Crossroads GPS superPAC-olytes, 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 neo-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 the convention will bring Tampa more than $175 million.

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5 comments
pitipua
pitipua

Ha! I guess the 3 republicans in SF converged to troll this page tonight. I usually loathe the SF Weekly as too libertarian for my taste, but this time they aced it with this story! Excellent analysis in my opinion. As a former FL resident, I attest to everything in the article being absolutely true! That's why I don't live there anymore, thank goodness! Overheated, godforsaken barren wasteland if there ever was one. It's the land of runaway capitalism, although in fairness you could say that already about this whole country. Greed will finally destroy it, as already has done in FL, a place where dog-eat-dog is the norm for every interaction, and almost complete destruction of the public sector has taken place. Good job, 1%! Soon you won't have a country to exploit anymore, thanks to your own moronic short-sightedness and self-interest!

karentewart
karentewart

Wow! Who pissed in your cornflakes?  Amazing the ranting and raving going on here when the excesses of the other party are just as great, if not more.  I would rather attend an 'orgiastic' event than a massive rock style festival set up to pay homage to a demagogue with no practical experience.  I guess it's all ok under the new era of subjective journalism.

hplovecraft
hplovecraft

Illustrations by a Rick Sealock... That's a 'Nom de Plume' for Ralph Steadman , right ?

I'm thinking 'copy rights' and so on...

red.marcy.rand
red.marcy.rand topcommenter

What a rant ! Did either Big Bruce Brugmann of the SFBG or Big Bruce Anderson of the AVA buy out SF Weekly ? Your rag is starting to read like a print version of KPFA.

All Commie crapola, all the time. I bet your face looks like Robert Gammon's hemorrhoids.

We have enough of a one party state around here with goy boy Miller's 69ing for the Marxist in the

Black House.

trustus
trustus

Wow maybe a little harsh, although your frustration is understandable, perhaps not everyone in Florida is all bad.

Isn't it almost amusing to see very rich people from private Gated-Communities organize their very own private Gated-Republican Presidential Convention. They are pretty busy making elaborate preparations, so that they won't have to see or make contact with any of the Riff Raff, or as we lovingly call them Mr & Mrs America, Mom, Dad, Granma & Granpa or Plain old American Tax Payers.

 

 

 
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