|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
The Republican Party's convention site is creating an awkward reality at odds with the conservative media mythology that is at the center of the convention's theme.
In recent days, Fox News has praised Republicans for adopting "We Built It" as a theme for its upcoming convention. "We Built It" is based on the Fox-fueled distortion of President Obama's remarks tying the success of businesses to "this unbelievable American System" that includes government spending on infrastructure and education.
However, the selection of the Republican convention site actually proves President Obama's point about the role of government assistance. The construction of the Tampa Bay Times Forum was majority financed by the public; the arena is owned by local government; and the Republican convention has received tens of millions in government funds to help with costs and security.
Republican Convention Site: Publicly Financed, Publicly Owned
Republicans will host their 2012 convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, an indoor arena that is publicly owned and whose construction was majority financed by the public.
The Forum was built in 1996 by the Tampa Bay Sports Authority, which was created as a public agency in 1965 for the purpose of "planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive complex of sports and recreational facilities" in the area. According to the Authority's 2011 financial statements, the Forum is actually owned by Hillsborough County, which then leases it back to the Authority. This step was taken specifically to avoid the inclusion of the arena on the county's tax rolls.
Reports on the actual cost of construction are inconsistent, ranging from $139 million to $162 million [Tampa Tribune, 8/17/97, via Nexis]. But the Forum was reportedly majority-financed using more than $80 million in city and county bonds backed in part by taxes, with additional funding from the Tampa Bay Lightning professional hockey team.
As Tampa gears up for the Republican National Convention, the biggest party it has ever held, the city and its businesses are primping and polishing for the August arrival of tens of thousands of visitors. Like it or not — mostly not, for city officials — Tampa’s well-known strip clubs have joined the welcome wagon.
Club owners here say they have schmoozed with their counterparts in former host cities, like Denver, and have been told that revenue pours in during conventions, sometimes quadrupling earnings from a Super Bowl week. As for party affiliation, this is one place where the country’s caustic partisan differences fall away, owners say.
Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, which serves as a trade association for strip clubs, said an informal survey of convention business in New York and Denver had determined that Republicans dropped more money at clubs, by far.
... Jazmin, 19, prepared to live-chat on a webcam to a faraway customer, one of the club’s new features. She is also preparing for the convention. Given the opportunity to stand up before a politician, she will do her job, naturally, but also share her own tale of financial struggle, as many voters here would do.
Laid off from a job in the Medicaid billing industry, she scraped by as a cashier at a grocery store. The paycheck scarcely covered her car payments, she said. Then a friend of a friend told her about the strip club, and now there she is, saving her money (the most she’s ever made) for nursing school.
This is not a political war at all. This is not a cultural war. This is a spiritual war. And the Father of Lies has his sights on what you would think the Father of Lies would have his sights on: a good, decent, powerful, influential country - the United States of America. If you were Satan, who would you attack in this day and age? There is no one else to go after other than the United States and that has been the case now for almost two hundred years, once America's preeminence was sown by our great Founding Fathers.
He didn't have much success in the early days. Our foundation was very strong, in fact, is very strong. But over time, that great, acidic quality of time corrodes even the strongest foundations. And Satan has done so by attacking the great institutions of America, using those great vices of pride, vanity, and sensuality as the root to attack all of the strong plants that have so deeply rooted in the American tradition.
He was successful. He attacks all of us and he attacks all of our institutions. The place where he was, in my mind, the most successful and first successful was in academia. He understood pride of smart people. He attacked them at their weakest, that they were, in fact, smarter than everybody else and could come up with something new and different. Pursue new truths, deny the existence of truth, play with it because they're smart. And so academia, a long time ago, fell.
And you say "what could be the impact of academia falling?" Well, I would have the argument that the other structures that I'm going to talk about here had root of their destruction because of academia. Because what academia does is educate the elites in our society, educates the leaders in our society, particularly at the college level. And they were the first to fall.
And so what we saw this domino effect, once the colleges fell and those who were being education in our institutions, the next was the church. Now you’d say, ‘wait, the Catholic Church’? No. We all know that this country was founded on a Judeo-Christian ethic but the Judeo-Christian ethic was a Protestant Judeo-Christian ethic, sure the Catholics had some influence, but this was a Protestant country and the Protestant ethic, mainstream, mainline Protestantism, and of course we look at the shape of mainline Protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it. So they attacked mainline Protestantism, they attacked the Church, and what better way to go after smart people who also believe they’re pious to use both vanity and pride to also go after the Church.
After that, you start destroying the Church and you start destroying academia, the culture is where their next success was and I need not even go into the state of the popular culture today. Whether its sensuality of vanity of the famous in America, they are peacocks on display and they have taken their poor behavior and made it fashionable. The corruption of culture, the corruption of manners, the corruption of decency is now on display whether it’s the NBA or whether it’s a rock concert or whether it’s on a movie set.
The fourth, and this was harder, now I know you’re going to challenge me on this one, but politics and government was the next to fall. You say, ‘you would think they would be the first to fall, as fallible as we are in politics,’ but people in political life get elected by ordinary folks from lots of places all over the country where the foundations of this country are still strong. So while we may certainly have had examples, the body politic held up fairly well up until the last couple of decades, but it is falling too.
Attack ads are blanketing Iowa, fueled by millions of dollars from his rivals and a group supporting Mitt Romney. Mailboxes are filling up with anti-Gingrich leaflets. And on the stump, his rivals have stepped up their assault on Mr. Gingrich’s time in Congress and his commitment to conservative causes.
Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker, emerged in early December with a strong lead in some national polls and with commanding leads in Iowa and South Carolina. But new surveys suggest that political gravity could be dragging him down, opening the race up again and highlighting once more the fickle search among conservatives for an alternative to Mr. Romney.
“It’s definitely a full frontal assault,” said John Stineman, a Republican strategist who managed the 2000 presidential campaign of Steve Forbes in Iowa. He said the criticism of Mr. Gingrich has been impossible to avoid in Iowa. “The fact is, he’s getting killed,” he said.
For most of December, Mr. Gingrich has refused to push back aggressively against the attacks, promising a positive approach and pursuing a relatively limited schedule of traditional campaigning. He spent last weekend largely off the trail, attending a concert in Virginia where his wife, Callista, played the French horn.
A daily tracking poll by Gallup released on Monday showed that Mr. Gingrich’s lead has all but evaporated, leaving him in a dead heat with Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. A new CNN survey also showed the race tied nationally. And an automated poll of Iowa voters showed an even steeper drop for Mr. Gingrich, though many news organizations have reservations about its methodology.
His decline highlighted the unsettled nature of a contest in which many Republican voters say they are still open minded about whom they will vote for; a New York Times/CBS News poll this month found that two-thirds of likely Republican caucus-goers in Iowa were still willing to change their minds. On Monday, Sarah Palin said on Fox Business Network that “it’s not too late” for “folks” to jump into the Republican contest.