If you happened to be in downtown Tampa this weekend, you had myriad choices on what to do with yourself in a spectacular weekend of activity.
There were loads of young high school students going back and forth from the Tampa Convention Center to the Straz Center, as part of the Florida State Thespian Festival. You had 18,000 basketball crazed fans attending the double header Saturday afternoon at the St. Pete Times Forum. And there was something called The World's Greatest Hobby Tour at the Convention Center over the weekend as well (that event showcased the hobby of model railroading).
But on Saturday I opted for about an hour and a half to go inside the Mariott Marriott-Waterside hotel in downtown Tampa on Saturday to join approximately 300 very sober minded people to hear that the U.S. was essentially going to hell pretty quickly.
The doomsday scenarios were being laid out in day two of the three day Save American Convention, which featured a number of speakers who seriously want to eviscerate the Federal Reserve Board.
Although the itinerary featured only men, when I arrived a little before 2 p.m. a woman who I only heard was named Karen began discussing something called Agenda 21, which was drawn up in 1992 for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. According to Karen, Agenda 21 was all about ultimately having a One World Government. She said the group's ultimate goal was to reduce the world's population down to 1 billion people (currently it's 6.8 billion). She said this would be accomplished through health care, and said that was one reason the Obama administration and Democrats were so insistent on getting such a bill passed in Congress a year ago.
After "Karen" exited, Kirk Elliot hit the stage, to a mass level of indifference, if the thousand yard stares amongst some of the folks I encountered slumped in their chairs were any indication. Elliot hit on the problems with out heavily in debt economy, saying nothing that hasn't been said by most leading conservatives over the past year. His huge fear was rising inflation, something we've been hearing about from the right since President Obama was elected. Frequently saying that "You gotta think outside of the box," and later, "scary things are happening in the world right now."
"Is America on the verge of collapse?" He asked those paying attention to him in the audience. Talking about how inflation in Weimar Germany led to, you know what, Elliot also expressed disdain at the U.S. Government's official unemployment and inflation numbers.
Citing the increase in items like toilet paper and diapers, Elliot said inflation was not at what what the Consumer Price Index says, but is more like 10% right now (which some economists have also suggested).
He sounded a darker note when talking about the uprisings in the Arab world this past winter, and disputed the "media promotion" that the outbursts are quests for democracy. "I think this is about a caliphate in the rest of the world," he said, adding, "We're in for a world of trouble, people!" But before he got too excited, he realized that "I know I'm preaching to the choir."
Next up was Stewart Rhodes, who founded the patriot group the Oath Keepers back in 2009. He began his speech by talking about personal responsibility, saying it was up to everyone in the audience to take the initiative in their local neighborhoods when it comes to physical security, economic security and food security. "That is the backbone of the sovereign state."
I originally had considered attending on Sunday morning, where along with famed anti-illegal immigration zealot Tom Tancredo in attendance would be Gary Johnson, the former libertarian pro legalizing marijuana governor of New Mexico - both men no doubt would provide good copy.
But frankly, Sunday morning was also very beautiful. And though I had several issues to work on and attending would have made this post perhaps more representative of the entire conference, I couldn't take it. Just couldn't do it.