Saturday, February 13, 2016

Trump rally at USF was...something

Posted By on Sat, Feb 13, 2016 at 2:28 AM

It was sheer cacophony, and it was darkly surreal; not your typical Friday night.

Of course the roadways leading up to the University of South Florida Sun Dome were packed. Of course fans and protesters rallying outside the venue chanted so loudly one could hear them on the other side of the large arena. And, of course, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's speech had all the hits: immigration, Hillary Clinton's emails, what it's like to be a billionaire negotiator extraordinaire.

An so on.

Inside the venue, supporters milled about. Many donned outlandish getups—stars and stripes from head to toe; blond Trumpesque wigs, dark suits and pursed lips a la Trump—and others had rather creative handmade signs, like the couple from Tarpon Springs that pasted candy hearts onto poster board to show their "love" for the Donald.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Florida lawmakers push for Congressional term limits amendment

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 12:34 PM

  • Martin Falbisoner/wikimedia commons
Florida lawmakers are calling for a convention to consider a potential U.S. Constitutional amendment that could establish term limits on Congress without their approval. Florida is the first state in the U.S. to request such a convention.

HM 417 passed with staggering support from both Republicans and Democrats in the State House and State Senate. The legislation was spearheaded by Florida Rep. Larry Metz (R—Groveland) and State Sen. Aaron Bean (R—Jacksonville).

The measure was influenced by U.S. Term Limits, a group dedicated to quashing “careerism" in Washington. Philip Blumel, president of the group, says what he calls "term limit abuse" is a national concern that is shared by supporters of all political parties.

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Sh*t happened 2/12/16: Oregon standoff ends, Spring Hill standoff happens, sort of

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 8:36 AM


Happy Donald Trump Is In Town Today Day! It's a day ripe with possibilities — chief among them being the possibility that having one more New York City blowhard in town will have little to no effect on your weekend.

After 41 days, the occupation of Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge by some gun-toting folks with a few weird ideas about whether or not the federal government can own property is over. Of course, this unsexy standoff starring what many coastal Americans considered idiotic hayseeds has been over in the minds of those Americans for weeks now, and that's precisely what makes it so important: The next group of "patriots" to do something radical will have learned from Malheur — and by "learned from," I mean "decided to kill somebody to show they're serious."

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

F*ck yeah!: The deets on Friday's Trump rally in Tampa

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 5:47 PM

Dust off your Murrican flags, everyone.

You've anticipated it for more days than it takes to legally buy a gun in some states, but now Donald Trump's Tampa appearance is just hours away!

The University of South Florida has released the specifics on Trump's Friday night Tampa rally at the USF Sun Dome, and they're expecting a massive crowd at what's likely to be a romp.

The Don is expected to speak at 7 p.m. Friday night. 

Rudely, USF asks that you not bring your gun to the rally.

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Activists tout Florida study showing low wages' burden on taxpayers

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 4:24 PM

Activists demand better wages for workers in downtown Tampa.
  • Activists demand better wages for workers in downtown Tampa.
You've heard it many times before: someone who makes $8.05 an hour — Florida's minimum wage — can't exactly subsist, let alone raise a family, without some form of government assistance.

A recent University of Florida study confirms that, indeed, taxpayers in Florida are subsidizing companies that pay the minimum wage to the tune of $11.4 billion. The University of Florida study, commissioned by Service Employees International Union, doesn't outright determine whether $15 an hour is a magic number, but it does suggest Floridians would be on the hook for fewer taxes each year if that were the starting hourly pay.

“Well, $15 an hour would certainly go a long way," said FSU economist Patrick Mason, who conducted the study, during a conference call. "I think part of the problem is that the current minimum wage if $8.05 an hour, so if you have someone who is working full-time, 52 weeks a year, 40 hours a week, they still would not make enough to not need some sort of public assistance.”

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Sh*t happened 2/11/16: Students with guns, Utah "tampon law" struck down

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 9:50 AM


Let's do this:

In the midst of a lockdown at Tampa's Plant High, police found what are being referred to as "hunting weapons" in the car of an 18-year-old student; the presence of the student's guns on campus appeared totally unrelated to the reason for the lockdown. "Of course he should be able to have his hunting guns on campus, they're hunting guns, not people-killing guns or getting-stolen guns or accidentally-going-off guns," said a bunch of people who seriously need to re-evaluate their priorities.

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Game of Drones: New Hampshire edition

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 4:31 AM

It’s been a whirlwind week in the political realm. Here’s our take, as viewed through the lens of the Seven Kingdoms. (Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read the books or seen Season Five, you may want to skip the last one.)


The U.S. Senator from Florida seemed to be the anointed one after snagging the coveted third place spot in Iowa. But during a debate in the final stretch of the primary lead-up in New Hampshire, New Jersey Gov. Christie called him out for his tightly scripted repetition of the same phrases, which Rubio continued to recite the next day. In a word, he choked.

So, once again, and for an entirely different reason, we award him with a Joffrey Baratheon. (Bonus: Sheldon Adelson, conservative billionaire casino magnate who backs him, is Cersei Lannister.)

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The worst offenders: Hillsborough may become the first county in Florida to adopt an animal abuser registry.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 4:15 AM

A mixed-breed rescue dog in an Iowa shelter. - NHANDLER/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Nhandler/wikimedia commons
  • A mixed-breed rescue dog in an Iowa shelter.
During a meeting on a recent Wednesday morning, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner warned that the litany of heinous acts he was about to recite might upset many in his audience.

All were acts of abuse or torture committed against animals somewhere within the county — animals bound and left to die, or beaten so badly they’d lost sight in one eye — accounts of cruelty that made you want to drop everything you’re doing and hug your pet and reconsider whether humanity’s all that great.

“When we talk about pets, it’s like talking about our families,” Beckner said at the meeting. “And while most pet owners are responsible and love their pets, we also know that there are individuals who do not and cause great harm to their pets.”

Beckner had a reason for bringing up the scourge of animal abuse. His hope was that the other commissioners would support launching an animal abuser registry — a list of those convicted of doing harm to animals.

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Sweet spots: Where do you go when your spirits need a lift?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 3:52 AM

CLOSE TO HOME BUT FAR AWAY: Lassing Park in St. Pete’s Old Southeast neighborhood. “…a great square, a public space, a beautiful place where we can be together…”
  • CLOSE TO HOME BUT FAR AWAY: Lassing Park in St. Pete’s Old Southeast neighborhood. “…a great square, a public space, a beautiful place where we can be together…”

We all have our favorite places where we feel good, our “sweet spots.”

I asked some savvy friends where they like to go, with the following caveats: The places they chose had to be public (not their backyards) and local (not the Taj Mahal).

Their responses were inspirational. Now I want to expand my horizons and explore further afield. I hope you use the long weekend ahead to check out some of these special spots.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Christie, Fiorina to drop presidential bids

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2016 at 5:25 PM


Nobody knew who was going to drop out of the race, but we did know when some were likely to exit — the day after the New Hampshire primary.

And that's what happened, as both Carly Fiorina and Chris Christie announced today that they were departing the race.

Fiorina, the Hewlett-Packard CEO, issued a statement saying that she is ending her campaign.

"While I suspend my candidacy today, I will continue to travel this country and fight for those Americans who refuse to settle for the way things are and a status quo that no longer works for them," Fiorina said in a written statement posted on Facebook Wednesday afternoon.

Fiorina had earned just over 4 percent of the votes in NH and zero delegates.

Earlier in the primary season, she had shown promise after doing well in the second Republican debate. Despite deliberate untruths, her poll numbers climbed to second after she espoused a hawkish approach to foreign policy, falsely described heavily doctored anti-Planned Parenthood videos, and took on Donald Trump after sexist comments about her appearance.

Back in December, Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, told us New Hampshire was a must for Fiorina, but no dice.

The key primary also would have been a boon to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who spent time appealing to New Hampshire's moderate voters.

But, alas.

Christie, too, announced he is suspending his campaign

He finished in sixth place with 7 percent of the vote.

On the GOP side, that leaves Donald Trump, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, surgeon Ben Carson, and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

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