Ah, the possibilities of a strange confluence of events: tropical storm Isaac is churning into the Caribbean, where warm water should move the storm into hurricane status as early as today. Forecasters think it could develop quickly into a powerful storm, but say there are many wild cards about where it will head, and how big it will get. Among the options? Well, there’s a distinct possibility the hurricane could reach land somewhere near the U.S. Republican National Convention, set for Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.
Isaac is the only biblically named storm name this year. There’s a Rebekah set for 2013 and Isaias in 2014, but that’s it until at least 2018. Biblical names, it seems, are less common than names like Mindy, Whitney and Vicky.
Isaac was one of the biblical patriarchs, reportedly living to the age of 180. His father, Abraham, was said to have been 100 years old when Isaac was born. Some wags might quip that someone with 180 years under their belt might feel more than comfortable at such a gathering of right-wing political warhorses. Fact is, though, the Republican Party has already prepared for such a weather scenario, practising a hurricane drill that includes the possibility of an evacuation of the expected 70,000 convention attendees if a major storm — Category 3 or stronger — threatens the area.
Convention preparations for the official selection of Mitt Romney as the Republican presidential candidate in Tampa have been going on for months. Strip clubs in Tampa have apparently spent millions upgrading facilities and renovating, and one facility is spending plenty of coin to bring in a stripping Sarah Palin impersonator.
Republicans mean big money. Angelina Spencer, the executive director of the Association of Club Executives, told The New York Times that an informal survey of clubs after the last round of political conventions showed the family-values Republicans outstrip (sorry) the Democrats when it comes to spending.
“Hands down, it was Republicans,” she said. “The average was $150 for Republicans and $50 for Democrats.” Also making the Tampa convention interesting? The Tampa city council asked the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, to sign an executive order banning concealed handguns within the convention perimeter (Florida is one of the southern states with generous “concealed carry” firearms laws). Scott refused.
Stymied on that front, the council moved to ban carrying a number of other weapons, including hatchets, pellet guns, slingshots, crowbars, hammers — and more. “It shall be unlawful for any person to carry or possess, with intent to cause injury, harm or damage to any person or property, projectile launcher or other device which may be used for the launching, hurling, throwing or spraying any object, liquid or other substance. The prohibited items shall include but are not limited to, water guns, super soakers and water cannons.” Rappelling down buildings, protesters chaining themselves together and the throwing of urine or feces have also been banned under Tampa City Ordinance 2012-56.
Watching from this country, the whole scene seems strangely outlandish. By the way, in Hebrew, Isaac means “he laughs/will laugh.” It’s hard to believe the hurricane — or at least the laughing — hasn’t already started.