Editor: This is an edited version of Doug Porter’s daily column “The Starting Line” over at the San Diego Free Press.
Next weeks Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida will be held at The Tampa Bay Time Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was paid for primarily with tax dollars. Seven bond issues issued in 1996 for construction, according to the St. Petersburg Times, are being paid off with a combination of revenues from sales taxes, tourist development taxes, and ticket surcharges. The facility is legally owned by Hillsborough County, which leases it the Tampa Bay Sports Authority. County ownership keeps the property off the local property tax rolls.
So it’s ironic, to say the least, that the GOP has adopted “We Built It” as their theme for the 2012 convention. As Media Matters has pointed out, this premise is build upon the Fox news’ distortion of one part of President Obama’s remarks tying the success of businesses to “this unbelievable American System” that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.
The Federal Election Commission, financed by 33 million tax payers who direct $3 of their taxes towards election costs, has given the Republican Party more than $18 million in grants to be used towards the costs of the “We Built It” convention. (The Dems received a matching amount towards their convo.) Tampa Bay & Charlotte, NC have each received $50 million in grant money from the federal government to beef up law enforcement capabilities.
The majority of the grant money in Tampa will be used for paying the costs of public employees brought in from other jurisdictions to aid in security August 27-30. Downtown has been wired up with an additional 60 cameras, which, along with airborne surveillance equipment, will feed data into tax payer funded databases running facial recognition software (developed for the Pentagon) that boasts facial recognition rates of 99.7 percent for well-lit, frontal photos. And local tax payers have coughed up an additional $2.7 million for “beautification” projects around the city.
Thanks, suckers… Through a series of ads and speeches, Romney’s campaign has selectively edited President Obama’s original remarks by removing the reference to “roads and bridges,” creating the impression that the president was dismissing the success of small business owners.
“In speeches and videos, the Romney campaign has repeatedly distorted Obama’s words,” the Tampa Bay-based PolitiFact wrote. “By plucking two sentences out of context, Romney twists the president’s remarks and ignores their real meaning. … Romney and his supporters have misled viewers and given a false impression. For that, we rate the claim False.”
Twenty years after hurricane Andrew… No doubt you’ve heard by now that tropical storm Isaac’s presently projected path puts it in the vicinity of Tampa Bay on Tuesday. The city governments says that, if necessary, it will shut down the GOP convention if that’s what it takes to protect peoples’ lives. But Rush Limbaugh told his listeners yesterday not to worry:
“You know what it is in the media, it’s all about the hurricane hitting next week and they’re not talking about Biden,” Limbaugh continued. “They are talking about this Hurricane Isaac thing. We, who live in south Florida, become experts on it and we don’t need the National Hurricane Center — we don’t need all these weather dolts analyzing this for us.”
“I can see Obama sending FEMA in in advance of the hurricane hitting Tampa so that the Republican convention is nothing but a bunch of tents in Tampa,” Limbaugh added. “A bunch of RVs and stuff. Make it look like a disaster area before the hurricane even hits there.”
Hurricane Akin is also threatening the GOP Convention… That would be Akin, as in the Congressman and candidate for Senate in Missouri whose televised comments about women’s bodies having ways of preventing pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape” continue to loom large over the nominating parlay. The made-for-TV showcase of the Romney-Ryan ticket’s economic program along with a strong showing of party unity is becoming subordinate to the continuing controversy focused on rape and abortion. The Republican Party’s platform plank calling for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion without adding exceptions for victims of rape –and VP nominee Paul Ryan’s legislative history supporting similar measures—are threatening to reveal divisions in the party and dominate coverage at a time when the presumptive nominee was hoping to portray his candidacy as the antidote to the economic malaise that the United States has suffered through in the years following the collapse of the housing market.
Just for the record… There is no truth to the item that appeared in the New Yorker yesterday about the Republican National Committee planning to move this year’s convention to the seventeenth century. The quote saying “After we ban abortion in cases of rape and incest, we’re going to focus on America’s spiraling witch problem.” was made up. Honest.
We haven’t forgotten: show us your taxes!.. The NBC News/ Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this week shows deep voter concern over the issue of Mitt Romney’s refusal to release more than two years of his tax returns. Here’s the question asked, as reported in The American Prospect:
Has what you have seen, read, or heard about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and the percent he has paid in federal income taxes made you feel … more positive or more negative about him, not made much difference in your opinion or do you not know enough about this to have an opinion at this time?
The report goes on to tell us:
Only 6 percent of respondents say that it has made a positive difference in their opinion of Romney. Thirty-six percent say that it has made a negative difference, and 41 percent say that it hasn’t made much difference at all. Seventeen percent don’t know either way. Romney’s anger over the Obama campaign’s decision to go after his tax returns makes more sense in this light; the controversy is doing real damage to his campaign, and more important, it has the potential to do more if Team Obama can return it to the forefront of the discussion.
Brown’s measure up… The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a poll released Wednesday by the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE)/USC Rossier School of Education that shows Gov. Brown’s Proposition 30 in positive ground, while a competing measure, Proposition 38 is losing by a significant margin. Both measures would increase taxes on Californians while attempting to deal with funding shortfalls to public education. The poll found that among likely registered voters, 55 percent of those surveyed are in support of Prop. 30 while 36 percent oppose it. For Prop. 38, 40 percent of those surveyed support it while 49 percent are in opposition.
San Diego’s City Beat weekly is ten years old… And they’ve officially come out of the closet as hating Republicans. Well, okay, not really. They just “dislike” them. (I wonder if we can get one of those buttons on Facebook?) Read all about it in ‘What Grinds Our Gears‘ a retrospective look at the alt-weekly’s crusades and accomplishments over the last decade. Happy Birthday!
Dead tree humor…. The UT-San Diego got a lot of flack a while back after they ran an editorial naming President Obama as the worst chief executive in US history. But, truth be told, the people who make up their small slice of the local market probably really do feel that way, what with ‘ObamaCare’ death panels being set up on every street corner and Muslim terrorists hiding behind every bush. So it is with anticipatory smirks that we’re touting the Daily Fishwrap’s Best President’s Survey, where-in the general public is being asked to weigh in on this important matter. Will it be Warren G. Harding? Or will the sainted Ronald Reagan carry the day? Be sure to vote. (Personally, we’re looking at Calvin Coolidge)
We’re shocked, mind you, shocked… Voice of San Diego is reporting that Mayoral candidate Bob Filner has taken the amazing position of agreeing to work with the City Council on implementing plans they voted for on construction of a parking garage (and other measures) in Balboa Park. He told the online outfit that “In retrospect, I wish the tenor of objections raised at the hearing had been different – less personal.” Now that Filner’s agreed to go along with the council’s vote, perhaps VOSD can get beyond ballyhooing about “flip flopping” and start asking DeMaio about his plans to take measures that he loses on in that venue to the initiative process.
Veterans for Peace Predator protest returning to Poway… As promised, San Diego Veterans for Peace will continue their weekly vigil at the General Atomics plant in Poway, where the Predator Drone is built. The goal of this series of demonstrations is to get people thinking about the threat drones present to American liberties. The demonstration will start at 4pm this afternoopn outside the General Atomics location atScripps Poway Parkway and General Atomics Way. (Map) The vets will be there with some flags and signs designed to get people asking questions, and are encouraging people to join them in this effort. For more information, contact Dave Patterson.
The Obamabots are coming!… Congresswoman Susan Davis will join Labor Council CEO Lorena Gonzalez and Co-Chair of San Diego LGBT Pride Will Rodriguez-Kennedy this afternoon to mark the opening of the newest Organizing for America office at 4660 El Cajon Blvd., Suite 206. The office will serve as a headquarters for volunteers working in the community to gather support for the re-election campaign of President Obama. A presser/event to announce the opening will happen at 2:30 this afternoon.
The San Diego Walk for Justice in support of Proposition 35, which would increase sentences for those convicted of sex-trafficking crimes, is planning a 5K rally and march on Saturday in Liberty Station Park. There will be a rally featuring guest speakers and survivors of human trafficking, along with music and entertainment, refreshments, and the opportunity visit local anti-trafficking informational booths to find out how you can take action. (Friendly dogs on leash are welcome) The event will start at 4pm. Pre-registration is required if you plan to walk. For more information, go here.
I read the Daily Fishwrap(s) so you don’t have to… Catch “the Starting Line” Monday thru Friday right here at San Diego Free Press (dot) org. Send your hate mail and ideas to DougPorter@SanDiegoFreePress.