San Diego’s Eighth Anniversary Peace Festival – ‘Hiding in the Park’

by on March 21, 2011 · 49 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, Organizing, Peace Movement, Popular, San Diego, War and Peace

“Why do you people hide in the park?” one person asked me.

“Do you think that you are going to change a damn thing?” another asked. “Obama promised to end the wars if we elected him and he lied, just like Bush” she continued.

These were members of our Renters Union, working-class folks, some toiling at two jobs to pay the bills and raise their children and my announcement that there would be a demonstration at Balboa Park decrying the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War was like a message from beyond the Galaxy.

Some had sons and daughters in the military, a couple in Iraq and Afghanistan; while most had been so powerless all their lives that the notion that a demonstration could stop the wars or bring down the war economy which was decimating their job security, their schools, the quality of life in the their neighborhoods and, most terrifying, the prospect that the only economic option for their kids was the desert killing fields, seemed to them like a complete waste of precious time and dearth energy.

I went to the March, 2011 demonstration with a heavy heart. My own son, Robert Neptun, raised by his mother and step-father in relative poverty, was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. Sandwiched between him and a deceased father who served in World War II and a late brother, I helped turn AWOL from the Vietnam War; my Quaker faith based on historic pacifism gave me a sense of moral justification – almost too righteous – as I felt obligated to attend.

Absolution in the Park

“Who are these people I love so much; yet, in my own personal projections, have such great disappointment in,” I ask myself, walking up 6th Avenue toward the assemblage.

They arrive at the park in a troubled yearning for peace; they leave with a consecrated personal peace. They sense they are both the hope and the tragedy of our time, caught between a rock and a hard place, fighting the madness of a war economy while helping build the asylum.

A lagoon of white heads and gray tinted beards, more than half are seniors, human artifacts; year after year, decade after decade, they have not given up their moral imperative – a need to oppose the abomination of war. There is a great sadness, a lingering muteness, behind the hugs and smiles of recognition among friends that after all these years they must still imagine peace. Like the bewildered look of a mustang pulled from the range, standing in the corral, waiting to be slaughtered for dog food, their eyes reflect the confusion, the inability to understand the insanity of violence.

My lover is a Catholic, I was baptized into the faith; do I feel hostility toward confession? Of course not, any sympathetic listener, whether institutional or just a friend, helps the burden of our lonely, existential path. So for a group to conduct a collective confession, a kind of shared absolution from the horrible, obscene things done in our name in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems a valuable encounter. However, what is our penance? These yearly gatherings seemed to have evolved into a sort of “peace festival” with music, dancing, picnic baskets and even costumes. The depth of personal conversations, the warm embraces, the outpouring of shared love built over the years reflects a family reunion. It has become a familiar, cozy event. And, for some, it is too comforting. Year after year, far too many activists go to these gatherings for blood cleansing and come away seemingly mistaking their sense of moral cleanliness for having actually done something.

Meanwhile, Project Yano and the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft in the San Diego region struggles to stay afloat in their endeavor to counsel high school students about war and economic options. They need people to hand out flyers in front of schools, to person GI hotlines for those wanting out and they need finances to support their non-military exhibits at school job fairs and recruiting events. These are real actions, affecting real youth, saving real lives – which, I doubt, has ever been done by a peace festival in the park.

There were hardly any youth at the peace festival. Explosive anger, hostility, the courage to challenge; the stuff of youngsters has long since passed in this group. Noisy young people stoke the sadness, reminding us of our generational failures to fundamentally change the system of wealth and power which depends on weapons and violence for control, whether in Baghdad or Barrio Logan.

One by one, over the years, they seemed to have knitted the villain bonds; compromises, excuses, attending the sacraments of the market economy – bank accounts, building pensions, paying the mortgage, tuition for the kids, stock options, on and on.

Yet, they remember! Sometimes they are haunted by the ghost of a simpler era when they were free to confront and disobey. Like sex and a good high, they reminisce with fondness their civil disobedience, the liberating power of just saying no to wage slavery, material obsession and artificial projections of self-worth based on wealth and position in the hierarchies – both grand and petty. They remember their defiance, the detentions and arrests, the shared solidarity, being above covet and fear, walking on air.

As Reformist Liberals, We Sacrificed Our Youthful Liberators

“Why do we do this?” I asked Tanya Winter, the elderly matron of activism in San Diego, who as a child had watched Nazi troops as they entered Prague, Czechoslovakia. “Why do we come here and stand around in the park and listen to the same speeches, wave the same signs, beat our chests about war, when we know full-well no-one is listening and it will not change a damn thing?” I shouted into her ear as the booming PA system was at full-blast in an apparent effort to compensate for the few who were attending the demonstration.

“We must do what is right and not worry about the results, the Buddhists remind us,” she said serenely. She had aged, both physically and rebelliously, since I first met her in 2000 when she had just returned from the WTO protests in Seattle and was helping organize Activist San Diego. With the aid of the Ruckus Society, she and Martin Eder, organized a week-end retreat at the Che Café on the grounds of UCSD for activists, particularly young radicals, to develop confrontational tactics for the upcoming 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.

She spoke in fiery terms then, kilned by her experiences with the forceful insurgency which began in Seattle. Over 40,000 people, mostly youth, organized in phalanxes like magnificent ancient Greeks, wearing stunning black clothes and intense body language, evoking memories of Huey P. Newton and Fred Hampton, with colorful bandanas emulating the Zapatistas; they were prepared (and did, briefly) shut down the world’s corporate bosses as they met to discuss how to further plunder the Earth’s people of their resources. In those exhilarating first few days and months of the new millennium, we genuinely believed that we could bring down the edifice of war and poverty. A grand coalition of old leftys, environmentalists and workers, would merge with youthful radicals, who were staring into the jaws of the corporate beast and its wage slavery and oppression of the spirit.

We would pick up the threads of a dying counter-cultural mind-set and fold it into a new movement led by youth, who valued personal autonomy in non-hierarchical systems, from government to the work place, which would also end the blood-thirsty militarism of the 20th Century. We saw the “peace dividend” going directly toward ending poverty and sickness, or so we thought. Our nation and its peace dividend was high-jacked by the military-industrial complex and, together with right-wing Republicans, with the aid of a couple of Democratic Presidents, has built today’s American Empire and its corporate ownership.

In the early days of the twenty-first century, these black-clad warriors were out there, challenging the corporate state, fighting globalization, prepared to lead the charge, much like youth today across Northern Africa and into the Middle-East. They were learning, evolving, in that dark place where most activists cannot go, between mental restraint and spontaneity, a cutting edge where there are no comfort zones or fear – just pure engagement, an honest skirmish not only with the corporate state but with our innermost consciousness. Seattle was our Tahrir Square but unfortunately too many of us had our lives and investments entangled with the status quo. We let our youth down and they retreated into that sink-hole of “rugged American individualism” and its putrid pool of self-absorption.

As I walked among the 200 or so protesters in March 2011, they were mostly hidden from the street in a hollow of the park and obscured by a row of cars along the curb on 6th Avenue parked by punctual activists. These, the first actors of the play to arrive, many of whom have long since turned inward toward the persona of dissident, wearing the Greek mask, rather than outward toward the personality and pledge of rebel. For eight years we have trodden down to Balboa Park, from thousands we have dwindled to a few hundred, while another generation of youth, mostly poor kids, is scarred and warped by war. Meanwhile, our social consciousness, the moral fabric of our society is torn and sullied by the blood of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children In Iraq, Afghanistan and, increasingly, in Pakistan.

How pathetic I have become, I thought, as I hug old friends and smooze with the power liberals who strut among their little fiefdoms of supporters. Why can’t I just go up on stage, take the microphone and demand that they move their cars so the world can see our little tribal ritual. Better yet, let’s move the whole program out onto the street, set up the tents with boxes of anti-war literature and each group’s activist angle in the intersection, create the circumstances where each speaker who takes the mike will get arrested and drive our cars into a barricade on the freeway below us and go door-to-door, banging on doors, inviting people to join us.

Of course, I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want to alienate friends or seem too radical or visionary. I realize it is not allowed within the parameters set by the post-9-11 patriotic controls within our “mind-forged manacles.” I have bills to pay, a family to support; I am as trapped in my excuses for non-confrontation as everyone else. Then there is the practical angle – and justification. There is simply no interactive culture among activists to materially support resistance to the corporate state and its war economy. There is no community defense fund, no legal assistance mechanism, no organized support group to tend to love ones and pets, no overseeing of personal needs of detainees by any association. The corporate state has virtually won – we are alone, isolated and powerless.

One part of me says that we are getting what we deserve. Like Tanya’s aging radicalism and my timorous, imaginary verbal challenges to friends and fellow activists. What began in Seattle was derailed, in part, by the Los Angeles demonstrations during the 2000 Democratic Convention and was finished off by the convenience, almost too timely, of 9-11 and its post-traumatic xenophobia and blood lust.

During the week of the 2000 Democratic Convention, as is very typical of today’s jamborees, the power liberals led by Arianna Huffington and former Senator Gary Hart, held a “shadow convention” six blocks away from the corporate named Staples Convention Center. They were the establishment left of the Democratic Party and met to chide Al Gore, who had “become so beholden to special interests that he cannot demand reform.” Hart even said, “We sold our political birthright to the money-changers in the temple,” and asked “where today are the nation’s prophets,” and, then, he promptly returned to Denver to become a millionaire.

There was a third convention held that week (which I attended). Participating were the traditionally marginalized groups, which are abused and taken for granted by the Democratic hierarchy, minority communities, immigrant rights groups and farm workers, social justice and peace activists, direct-action environmentalists, native Americans and alternative political parties like the Green Party and California Peace and Freedom Party.

Yet neither of these so-called “alternative conventions” invited radical youth to address or participate in their deliberations. The youth held their own spontaneous encounters and encuentros at their Los Angeles Convergence Center and in the streets. They were effectively shut out of the discussions; allowing the media to portray them as dangerous subversives and riotous insurrectionists. There was no liberal outcry or solidarity when the youth’s convergence center on West 7th Street was surrounded by 120 police officers mid-way through the week of demonstrations.

I had just left the building, after talking with California Assemblyman Tom Haden, and watched as 20 squad cars blocked off the neighborhood and officers trained their weapons toward the youth center’s windows. The police were prohibited by court order from entering the Convergence Center unless it was an emergency, so the show of force was an effort at intimidation and another effort to frighten the reformers away from the youths. I was so disheartened, taking it almost personal, that this police state tactic was happening just three blocks from where I was born.

Adding to a further polarization between generations, the power liberals and the hordes of reformist ideologues were so frighten that these mutinous youth would challenge the police or block of streets in an effort to create another Seattle that during the six days of marches, they surrounded the youthful groups and yelled at them every time they seemed poised to act. Six different activist groups had a permit for a march, so everyday we would assemble and stroll LA’s downtown cavernous streets for several hours; it became routine, almost ritualistic.

Nothing reflected the generational fear divide more than the proposed idea for a concert in the “free speech zone” outside Staples Center, planned for the night President Clinton was to speak to the convention. Not only was there objection to a concert for young people, but after police viciously attacked concert going youth, there was no massive protest on the part of liberal reformers.

Many liberal groups actually collaborated with the city to have the zone in a distant area and in an area way too small to have a concert. It took a federal judge to rule that the distance and size of the allotted space wasn’t conducive to the requirements of free speech. Even then, many of the power liberals and most city officials objected to the suggested performers.

Rage Against the Machine, was a popular rock-band whose lyrics called young people to act against the developing corporate state with songs like “We Have to Take the Power Back” and an entire album devoted to “The Battle of Los Angeles.” Like Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan (before he sold out) in the sixties cultural wars, Rage Against the Machine merged art with protest, urging young people to liberate their minds, and their bodies will follow.

As Bill Clinton was mouthing his spurious words to the Democratic Convention goers, the Los Angeles Police Department attacked several thousand young people, many of them were working-class youth who were from nearby neighborhoods who had no interest in politics but came for a free concert. Early in the evening, slightly after 8 p.m., shutting off the power to the platform while the band Ozomatli was playing, a beaming voice from an overhead helicopter announced that the concert was ended and everyone had 15 minutes to disperse. Standing outside the free speech zone, I realized immediately this was a setup – that there was no way 10,000 young people walled into a packed 14 foot fenced area with only one exit could leave in 15 minutes. And, sure enough, with several thousand still stranded within the cordoned off area, the police attacked. Firing rubber bullets, they began beating people with batons. The crush of the crowd knocked me down twice and I could hear the screams of victims as another group of police thugs moved in firing “stingers” which are rubber bullets aimed at ankles and legs and blasting away with shotguns loaded with small bean bags. Other officers were spraying pepper spray in every direction, as people fell under the feet of panicked concert goers.

Close to two hundred people were injured, some with serious head wounds, while not a single police officer got so much as a scratch. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the brutality of the police assault was two-fold. On the one hand, to show radical youth that the system was prepared to use extreme force to silence confrontational dissent and, on the other, to show the youth that the liberals and reformers, would stand by and do nothing about police violence and its attack on free speech and the rights of association. That night, for the first time, I felt shame; for myself, for my activist friends, for the movement.

We are All Equal Opportunity Victims

Since that night in Los Angeles, like Michael Valentine, a stranger in a strange land, I have drifted, like a lost soul, trying to fit in. Both loving and disparaging, in and out of the liberal, left-wing movement. I prefer to work with the homeless and the poor and working-class folks, from my roots, where there is not a lot of rhetorical baggage; just the basics of surviving in the corporate state of low wages and high prices.

I still tinge with guilt, with sadness, for what might have been. All of those black-clad youth ready to challenge the corporate state; disillusioned by the power liberals, sliding away from the honesty of confrontation to video games, partying, personal art rather than socially challenging art, becoming human gadgets, appended to machines, addicted to pure technological quintessence.

“But what of my friends” I ask myself. They too are trapped: ensnared by their responsibilities and obligations to family and their personal quality of life, paying the mortgage or rent, buying quality food, struggling to maintain health care, trying to secure the funds and time to devote to social justice; self-imprisoned by the fear of being an outcast, a pariah or, most prominently, the terror of making a fool out of oneself.

At the March 2011 Balboa Park demonstration, I stopped to chat with an activist I have known for many years. I could see his speech in his hand and when he asked, “when are you going to speak,” I laughed and said “I’m not going to speak, I wasn’t asked.” He looked at me sadly as if to say, “how unfortunate, after all these years, you have not moved up in the movement hierarchy.“ He abruptly turned away, like one would shy away from a homeless person. I was momentarily hurt, but realized this is who he is – a fine person, a being of faith and hope, a caring individual; yet, in terms of an activist for fundamental change he is only a caricature, a delusional persona in the guise of uprising agent, who deep down yearns for the idea of fundamental change but fears it as much as he would a snake slithering along the sidewalk.

So many of us at the protest are people of conscience; abused and degraded as citizens for so many years. We are now equal opportunity victims; first manipulated and lied to by a white President, and now stage-managed and lied to by a black President. A President who will continue to sacrifice young American men and women, thousands of innocent civilians, keep torturing Private Bradley Manning, continue selling our to Wall Street and bankers, all in the interest of his political career.

We can only hope that a new generation will watch what is happening in North Africa, driven by young Arabs, and not see it as political theater, glorified by the media, but, rather, as the energizing motif for their own liberation from the American corporate state and its obscene, tragic wars. This time, if it happens, we oldies will need to consider getting our fat asses and timid reformist dogma out of the way and supporting a youthful vanguard with our money and solidarity, no matter what they wear – black, brown or pink. Let’s hope we get a second chance to support our youth in their revolution – for peace, autonomy and justice. Now, there’s a legacy we can take to the grave with honor and pride.

Rocky Neptun is director of the San Diego Renters Union. He calls himself an “aging peacenik” and was imprisoned for his human rights work, ferrying young Portuguese soldiers and sailors opposed to the colonial wars in Africa out of the country, in 1971 by the fascist dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar.

{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie March 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

One good thing happened at this rally – a bunch of us at the OB Rag finally got to meet Rocky Neptun.


James Boyle March 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

I read Mr Neptun’s article with interest, having myself been a self-doubting participant on saturday. While I certainly share many of his misgivings regarding liberal groupings in general and puny in numbers local military town gatherings in specific, I balance my despair with the most robust and complete confidence in the manifest infinite greed of the moneymilitarycorporate machine to produce the conditions on the ground right here in the US that will ultimately drive not just despairing old liberals but even blind consuming americans out in the streets by the millions. Wisconsin is the first glimpse of what is to come. Break unions, impose austerity measures, privitize everything. This is the IMF World Bank playbook that has driven people into the streets all over the world. It will here too. Americans fought in the streets in great numbers for their rights before the creation of the middle class. They will again upon the coming death of the middle class. At that time when conditions on the ground are right I have every confidence that all us old broken down Jeff Daniel types no matter how bad we suck now will rise up and make ourselves proud.


Goatskull March 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm

With everything going on here as far as jobs being outsourced I have to wonder if the table will be turned here in the U.S. In other words, are educated out of work American going to start immigrating to other countries for work? Wouldn’t surprise me, especially engineers with no chance of ever staying in that field if they stay here.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 7:55 am

If you are educated and out of work, start a business.

Stop waiting around for someone to pay you to sit at your desk and take control of your life.

There are too many capable people sitting around with their palms extended looking for the free and easy ride.

No one will take care of you, but you.

Everyone is crying about bad economic situations, but are mostly unwilling to go out and do somethi8ng about it.

It’s called “alligator mouth, hummingbird butt”. Too many folks run their mouths, but cannot get off thier backside to actually do anything about it.

Anyone that thinks the grass is greaner elsewhere should not be allowed back into the country.

Stop whining, start DOING.

my 2 cents


thinking out loud March 22, 2011 at 8:47 am

Despite what you read the ” true unemployment” rate is 17-20% look up the U 5 and U 6 rates…..obama and the government hid this fact…
you cant tell me this large percentage are all sitting back waiting are you…?
remember many of these are in the over 50 age bracket….or have a medical condition or do not have the funds to start a business….
But assuming they do please make a handful of recommendations as to what kind of a business to start….Oh I know lets all start making guns and bombs or maybe bandages and artificial limbs for wounded soldiers….!!


RB March 22, 2011 at 10:34 am

Losing a job is one of the top reasons people give as their motivation for starting a new business. Hobbies, past job experience, or solving a current customer need are the places to start.

Two businesses, that I believe could be started right now with little or no funds are pet sitter or rain barrel installation. Pet walking can lead to pet sitting that can lead to house sitting with business growth by word of mouth. Rain barrel installation could be done by catalog and using just in time inventory. Rain barrel installation could lead to gutter work and drip irrigation work. A card should be left at the door of neighbors telling how smart and how much water was saved by your current customer. You could charge $40/hr for two hours of installation and mark up the rain barrels by 50-100%.


Dave Rice March 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm

Are you selling rain barrels? More a comment on your post below than this one…and I’m assuming you’ve never visited OB and are thus unaware of the proliferation of professional dog-walkers.

And believe it or not, virtually no business starts these days without significant capital – unless you’re talking about selling handcrafted trinkets on the street, and there are plenty of people here doing that as well, with varying degrees of success.


RB March 23, 2011 at 8:21 am

I don’t sell rain barrels or business plans. I am retired scientist with a MBA in Finance. The ideas were offered free and as help to those in need. I have paid very well for the services of pet setters rather than putting animals in private boarding kennels. (Using the customers home rather than a kennel dramatically lowers the cost to start the business.) There are not many of these services, yet. Rain barrels are a green business. I installed my own but I know many people who would rather contract this service (ladders , cutting gutters, ordering barrels, calculating the number of barrels vs roof surface area, etc.). However, the ideas would not work for you or others without imagination.

“And believe it or not, virtually no business starts these days without significant capital ”
As for business entry barriers (the correct business term), you don’t seem to understand ‘just in time inventory’ and its advantages for a new business including reducing to near zero fixed costs.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 10:48 am

If you got the time and the drive, I can assist you in setting yourself up for success.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 9:01 am

Ruth, solutions like yours are not solutions at all. Telling an unemployed person that they should “start a business” is like telling a hungry person “well, just eat some food!”

As if people who can’t find a job don’t want to find a job. Maybe you don’t realize how offensive statements like that are.

I know it is intellectually easy and emotionally reassuring to assert that people in dire straits must have done something to get themselves there. But that approach is useless when it comes to devising solutions to so many real-world problems.

In life, the situation is often infinitely more powerful than the individual stuck in it. Try to remember that.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 9:29 am


I stand corrected. Let’s all wait around for something to happen.

How could I ever think that going out there and making something happen is more effective than making signs and chanting at our oppressors?

I must simply be out of my mind and I apologize for ever suggesting that action will out perform complaining to help solve problems.

I guess I’ll head out to the mailbox to see if the Obama-bucks arrived yet.

Thank you, Shane, for changing my life forever. May God bless you and your every step without you actually having to earn any of it.


Sunshine March 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Ruth, according to what I’ve read in religious and spiritual literature, that’s exactly what God does. He provides for his children without their “needing to earn it.” it’s called grace.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 12:48 pm


It is nice to know that religion and spirituality automatically pay off without any sort of effort on a mortal’s behalf. That took a huge load off of my mind, thanks. Here I thought that omnipotence judges mortals by actions and deeds.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Dear Ruth, would you be willing to share how you support yourself? You seem to know the can’t-miss formula for success, so naturally I’m curious about how you’ve applied it in your own life.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm


My legs generally support me unless I am sitting down, then it is my backside.

I don’t do much sitting.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Now you’ve missed my point, too, dear. I admire your work ethic but fear for your reading skills.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm

I was trying to politely tell you my business is none of yours.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

It’s funny, I don’t know too many successful working people who, in a conversation about the American employment situation, won’t mention what they do for a living. And I’ve never heard someone offer career advice and then follow it up by refusing to talk about his or her own career.

You meet the most interesting people on the Internet!


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm


I consult small business set ups. I do the IT, business plan, etc. The diversity of my path has ranged from setting up small biotechs to photography studios.

I am more successful in my ways of thinking than I am financially though. Work has been very sparse since the middle of last year, but I have set up two small businesses this year.

Your turn Shane, lay them cards out. What do you do to support yourself?

Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Your background sounds familiar. Say, do you know — no, that would be too much of a coincidence.

Dave Rice March 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Ah, I get the self-promotional plug from the previous comment before! You don’t sell rain barrels, you sell people on the idea of paying you to tell them to start a business! Well that kind of calls into question the whole integrity of your first post and everything subsequently said in support of it, huh?

Ian March 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm


I honestly think you have slightly missed the mark on this one. What Ruth has provided isn’t a matter of “solutions” as you have inferred, it is a matter of philosophy. Lots of people are out there “looking” for jobs, and “waiting” for the economy to improve. These are passive positions, what Ruth is advocating is an active position.

If you cannot “find” a job. Make one.

I think you are correct that it is not that simple, or easy. Lots of people just don’t have the resources and support systems to make such a leap. For the most part, Americans have been lulled to sleep by decades of prosperity, and easy money; now that times have changes, a different mentality is necessary, and the wake up call is quite alarming.


Dave Rice March 22, 2011 at 9:54 pm


I kind of do see the assertion in her post that being pro-active is a solution in itself – while it’s certainly better than being passive, you’re correct in admitting that sometimes action without resources isn’t possible.

I don’t think, however, a nearly 40 year cycle of stagnant median wages is exactly the kind of prosperity that lulls the country into complacency – it more slowly grinds them into submission in the guise of creating a drive to consume more while not earning more.


annagrace March 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Ruth- You have had an opportunity in this forum to talk about why you made a decision to go into business for yourself, to talk about the challenges and benefits, and the nature of your self-satisfaction with that decision. You haven’t done that. Instead, your comments have been consistently self-righteous, contemptuous of others and mean spirited. Your 2 cents is over inflated. Anna Daniels


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I fit right in here.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Ruth, I knew I remembered you… it’s from a few weeks back… you’re the commenter who was all excited that you had a photo of yourself drinking at the VFW. But then you said you couldn’t figure out how to post the photo online. And when I offered to help, you vanished.

Welcome back! The OB Rag appreciates your repeat visits.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Yes Shane, but I concluded that if you are that out of the know to actually need photographic proof that non-veterans drank in the old VFW then you would yell something like “photoshopped” after seeing the photo anyhow.

The two ladies drinking in the photo I have were not interested in me sharing the image as they agreed there are enough obstacles for the new VFW location already.


annagrace March 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Welcome to our world of WHINERS, complainers, capable people with extended palms look for a free and easy ride. Your words, Ruth, not mine.


annagrace March 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Ruth, welcome to our world of WHINERS, complainers, the capable with extended palms looking for a free and easy ride. Those are your words, Ruth. So what’s your pay-off posting here?


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Well, the two-for-one posts from you are nice.

Have patience when you click Submit my love!


annagrace March 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Ruth- why do you post here?


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 5:17 pm

It was easy to link Wordpress to my Trollbot software. I know that is not right, but you and I are going to be friends. I just know it.


annagrace March 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Cut the crap Ruth. My love? That is seriously twisted and patronizing and I want you banned.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 9:21 am

Mr. Neptun’s prose is invigorating, yet he writes as if there is a youth movement hungry for guidance from the experienced protesters at rallies like Saturday’s. I’d respond that there is no youth movement, only a void where the angry teens and twenty-somethings should be raging against the machine.

With that in mind, I don’t think the older activists who are still taking the time to hold rallies deserve labels like “caricature” and “delusional,” or deserve to have their commitment to fundamental change questioned because they weren’t tipping over cars.

Mr. Neptun, I’m with you on stepping up the activism by several notches. But instead of bagging on people holding actions that aren’t hard-core enough, maybe we can start planning some actions of our own?


Sunshine March 22, 2011 at 12:49 pm

let the new ways of peace activism roll in on the winds of change. Shane, I agree with ‘invigorating’ for Rocky’s prose. it was a captivating read and I look forward to hearing more from Rocky. While many citizens of this country have stood up for peace and other righteous causes over the centuries, the methods have changed. What worked a generation or two ago does not always work today. the cause remains, the citizens desires remain, the actions must be new, fresh, and reach the current masses.


Dave Rice March 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm

Speaking just to the crowd level issue (which I can acknowledge from a handful of events in the last year, not including Saturday’s), I think the progressive community might be spread a bit thin, without a single galvanizing force.

I made fun of the TPers last year when I went to their rally at the bayfront and met dozens of factions demanding dozens of different things (like the ‘Fish can’t vote!’ lady), but hey – they got all the right-wingers together and assembled a crowd. The question is how to get all the animal-rights people, the womens’ rights people, the anti-war people, the minorities’ rights people, the pro-cannabis people, et. al. together to help support one cause at a time…because I think even if we don’t all share the same primary cause of action, we share a general support for one another’s ideas.


James Boyle March 22, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Hey Ruth, Ive got an idea for a startup business with a proven track record!

(First of all, Im figuring it should be a piece of cake to get a startup loan the way banks are throwing around all the free money they are getting from the fed. Hell, the other day I walked by my local chase manhattan branch and got hit by a huge stack of $500s! Crazy, huh? ).

with the austerity measures being implemented by republican governers across the country
and the waves of layoffs and privitizations that accompany them,
and then factoring in all the lazy- ass complaining nonbusiness owners that are no doubt going to be out bitching wisconsin-style in the streets when they get their pink slips instead of starting a business,
wouldn’t it be a great idea for a business to approach the people who have the most to lose from such an arrangement,
remind them of Boss Tweeds sage wisdom in the gangs of new york to the effect that the rich can always pay one half of the poor to kill the other half,
then put down a practical business modeled on this premise for their careful consideration?
Non-union of course!


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm


Get a basic business plan done and I’ll help you get started. You sound passionate enough to actually make a change.


Shane Finneran March 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm

I think you missed James’ point.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm

After rereading his post I am unsure if James caught James’ point.


James Boyle March 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm


heres one model

business objective: help small business owners understand that their true interests lie not with the rich but with the working class poor and the bleeding hearts and the liberals.

business core principle or whatever: educate small business owners in simple macroeconomic principles, such as demand side keynesian economics. Run the numbers with them in two different scenarios.
a) less money at the bottom of the social pyramid and more at the top
b)more money at the bottom of the social pyramid and less at the top
establish in small business owners mind the fundamental economic fact that there is a strong negative correlation between their business profitability and A), as well as a strong positive correlation between their business profitability and B)

Connect the above conclusions to Federal Tax Rate history over the last century. Connect the last two economic meltdowns to the fall of tax rates on the very rich. Connect the post world war economic boom in this country to the 91% tax bracket. Connect these conclusions to political philosophies and political parties
and ultimately
turn the irrational anger of the small business community against the bottom of the social pyramid into rational anger against the top of the social pyramid.


Ian March 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm


You might want to research a concept called “Correlation doesn’t imply causation”, before you tout the failed Keynesian, artificial demand, philosophy to small business owners who, for the most part, have to operate in the real world of economic forces.

The tax code is not the causal mechanism behind the growing income gap. The causal mechanism is the inflationary tactics of the Central Bank, in their attempts to circumvent natural business cycles. Their “easy money” philosophy, in continued attempts to spur demand has lead to the capital flow to the elite, that you so despise.

You have to look beyond your nose to see the unintended consequences of your actions.


Ruth Weston March 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm


I can barely wait for you to get started on this business idea. Have you thought of any names for it? How about “OK James”?


Rick Ward March 22, 2011 at 9:22 pm

If you decide to pull my covers at least give me a heads up.


James Boyle March 23, 2011 at 8:26 am


Do you subscribe to the neo-liberal economic philosophy expounded by Milton Friedman and the chicago boys?


James Boyle March 23, 2011 at 10:27 am

Hey Ian,
Given a real world of imperfect information and lies endles lies backed by money endless money, a small business owner, facing the choice of two competing political/economic stories, will mind their stores well if they throw in with the side that can produce mountains of correlations, if not causation, over the side that in the absence of their own correlations cynically resorts, amongst over things, to scholarly skepticism


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2011 at 8:30 pm

Shane, annagrace, “Ruth Weston” turned out to be a thirty-something OB guy who has trolled our website in the past.


Dave Rice March 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Aw dang, IP ban in before I got a response as to how ethical it feels to suggest hiring his/her business as a cure to the country’s economical crisis?


Frank Gormlie March 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm



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