Saturday afternoon there was a Republican political rally in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza with about a thousand people in attendance.
The nominal purpose was to rally the troops for a San Francisco Republican candidate, John Dennis (below), who is making a quixotic attempt to unseat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this November.
Because Pelosi's seat is considered safe, the official Republican committees have declined to put any resources into Dennis' campaign, so a strange pair of political bedfellows, Ron Paul and Matt Gonzalez, signed on to help in a "PRO LIBERTY. ANTI DC." rally, according to Dennis' campaign website.
The printed signage for the under-advertised event was promising a different slant as a "PRO FREEDOM. ANTI WAR." rally, which brought out a remarkable mixture of left wingers, right wingers, libertarians, and peaceniks.
This meant that there were signs like Socialism Sucks...
...right next to signs advocating the legalization of marijuana.
Former San Francisco Supervisor Tony Hall (above) was there to cheer Dennis on and to help introduce Ron Paul, the Texas congressman and perennial presidential candidate for the Libertarians and Republicans.
My friend Harold Brown, above left with former San Francisco GOP chairman Art Bruzzone and former SF supervisor Matt Gonzalez, was also in attendance and he sent out an email this morning with a shrewd, funny report, excerpted here:
"I'd spent the hours from 4 to 8 am studying Paul's profile on the internet and I knew how skillfully the guy has become at organizing and fund raising but that he is essentially (no matter the talk of 'unity') all about Ron Paul Incorporated. In short, he don't like to share the spotlight if he can help it."
So, Paul has this little tent like thing set up behind the stage and he's having people come up and kiss his ring. You have to get through his security to even get into the area which I did with my Press Pass and then there's a short line and you get to talk to the great man. I waited until there was no one in the line and sidled up to ask him one question. To a guy who always answers in a like totally straightforward fashion.
Me: “Doctor, these are my grandchildren (show him pic of Tandiwe and Wesley along with Grandpuppy, Lukey II). My daughter went into the Peace Corps and came back to American with this great guy from Zimbabwe and eventually 2 children who were born in San Francisco but would have to be deported if your proposal to negate the U.S. Constitutional provision that makes citizenship a birthright. Will you deport my grandchildren if you're able?"”
"Simple enough question, right?(SFMike: Maybe they thought it was another prank a la "Bruno.")
I mean, I thought he was gonna faint. He turned to a young white American born (properly, of white parents in Texas no doubt) aide as if to ask 'How the fuck did this guy get in here?' and replied.
Paul: I'm getting ready to give a speech and I can't answer you now. Maybe I can answer your question after my speech.”
Me: “It's a simple 'yes' or 'no' question doctor. Do you favor deporting my grandchildren or not?”
Security moved in."
"The rally was a huge success. I came away believing that Paul's a huge fraud (above) but I haven't seen that kind of an event before. Patty Sheehan was excluded but she was there. Nader was excluded but they let Matt Gonzalez deliver a major talk.
There's a real Ron Paul cult thing going on and there were lots of people in the audience (majority probably) who spent their own money to drive in to see Ron call for dismantling the Fed (yeah!) and getting out of the United Nations (boo). The big issue here was whether or not disparate extremes of good conscience and intent from across the political spectrum can unite to drive out the corporate owned Democratic and Republican parties. Ummm, I dunno about that one, Vern."
"Of course the answer is 'no'. Especially if you shut out your potentially strongest allies like Nader and Sheehan. Paul's a travelling medicine man selling snake oil that will only make things worse. You ready to destroy Social Security? Abolish the income tax? Franklin Roosevelt turned over in his grave as this lean and focused Texan spilled his formula to return the United States to a feudal society circa 1830 with he and his own as the Lords and Nobles and the rest of us as serfs and chattel. Ready to withdraw from the United Nations?
Other than that he was fine. I'm a retired Special Education teacher who worked with the behaviorally insane and I recognize the look in the eyes. Ron? He's got it."
I listened to the first section of Ron Paul's speech inveighing against American imperialism and war on other countries for their resources, and the message was straightforward and stirring. However, when he started on his Libertarian economic platform, the solutions started sounding like a series of simplistic Ayn Rand slogans, and I exited, along with a copy of Marine Major General Smedley D. Butler's 1935 pamphlet, "War Is A Racket," in a newly published edition with a foreword by Patty Sheehan (above). The five dollar donation for the booklet to Antiwar.com seemed an appropriate gesture,