I headed down a bit late, probably should’ve been out by 10:15 instead of 10:40. Oh well. Street parking was scarce, but there were some terrific displays of capitalism, namely empty Ace parking lots charging $10 to get in. I parked a mile or so away and walked first along the bay side of Harbor drive, about 10 minutes after the 11 a.m. rally was scheduled to begin. I don’t know how many the teabaggers were claiming would attend or how many they’re going to claim did, but by my estimate they got maybe 250 – I heard some other estimates in the low 300s, which are entirely feasible too, as a few more people trickled in until noon or so.
I tried to engage a couple people and hand off a half-page statement I’d prepared that basically said “lots of people in the center and on the left might be more sympathetic to your basic message of smaller, more localized government, but these extremist wingnuts that follow you around really scare off the sane people.” I didn’t find any takers, though one guy did tell me to go home and smoke some more pot (after a while, I took your suggestion – thanks, good one!). Someone else told me I needed to get a job, as if there’s some job store out there where I could just swing by and pick one up. The whole ‘get a job’ thing as a rallying cry by conservatives against anyone they don’t like is getting old, by the way – but I’m sure it has been for 40 years now. A guy got mad when I laughed after some banner they’d hung from some 20? tall inflatable black thing fell down for the second time. Since the sun came out for a few minutes and I wasn’t making friends fast anyway I took off my jacket – no one was amused by my “I pound beers for Jesus” shirt.
People on the other side of the road were generally in higher spirits, talking, laughing, and, led by Frank on a bullhorn, sporadically singing. One ‘bagger took offense to our rendition of ‘God Bless America’ and shouted something to the effect of all we should be able to sing is ‘Kumbayah.’ Around the busiest time for the anti-teabag crowd I took a rough count and came up with something like 70-80, considerably smaller than the other side but definitely significant.
Later a handful of teabaggers crossed the road to stand on the median waving signs. They took this as a opportunity to start screaming gibberish at us and unfortunately, many in the crowd including myself, felt the need to start screaming back. Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience. The only time it really got out of line was when some old guy got inches from a woman’s face with the look of a rabid weasel in his eye and screamed repeatedly “AMERICA! LOVE IT OR F’ING LEAVE IT!” Within seconds people were at her back and he retreated across the street, where a cop apparently counseled him on what is and isn’t acceptable protest rally behavior.
- A lady screaming at us “You’re all illegal! You’re on welfare!”
- A rally chant broke out where the median teabaggers pointed at us and yelled “You want welfare!” then pointed at themselves and yelled “We want warfare!” I was particularly amused by this one.
- A guy with a sign that said “Redistribution of Wealth,” and featured a hand-drawn Soviet hammer-and-scythe emblem – as if the current federal government is advocating a transfer of wealth downward, instead of the current ongoing transfer upward.
- A lady with a sign that said “No Kare,” with the ‘o’ in no being the Obama campaign logo – I think (but I’m not sure) she was against health care, but I wasn’t sure whether the ‘k’ in care was a display of her illiteracy or some sort of Klan reference.
- A lady with a sign that said “Release the Water, Fish Don’t Vote!” I have no idea what that meant.
- One particularly vociferous woman screamed herself hoarse screaming at us in a particularly vile manner, including such well-articulated barbs as “Stop smoking your crack and your damn pot and go get jobs and pay taxes!”
- A guy with the sign “Obama Shows Resolve in War on Prosperity.” I never heard about this one, but if it’s real can we stop with these ‘wars’ on ideas or things, like ‘drugs’ and ‘terror?’
- The Kumbayah lady was holding a sign that said “Palin/Beck 2012.” Now that’s an amusing concept – I’m sure if it happens hilarity will ensue.
- A guy with a sign saying “End the Fed,” with the infamous Obama whiteface/clown makeup poster. Because Obama invented the Federal Reserve, I assume.
- A couple people with “Stop Illegal Immigration Now!” signs – as if making it illegal and posting guards at the border to turn back whoever they catch crossing are signs that we’re pretty much cool with it as a government.
- A guy had a sign saying Acorn employees are Marxist…jeez, these guys want us to get jobs, but then if we get them at the wrong place we’re Marxist?
Altogether what I’d anticipated – a pretty motley assortment of people promoting a generally incoherent string of ideas. The sad part was that even the normal-looking people had pretty much zero interest in civil discourse – well, the 8-10 I even attempted it with.