Tea Party and education: they can’t even take attendance

I’ve been telling you about the billionaire Koch brothers and their Astroturf movements for a few years now, beginning in October 2007. I’m happy to see that more people are beginning to catch on.

Matt Seaholm, former campaign director for Sean Duffy, is now the state director for Americans for Prosperity, replacing infamous campaign law violator Mark Block. Block has moved on to join the staff of Herman Cain, a would-be presidential candidate from Atlanta and talk radio host whose main claims to fame are short stints as Godfather’s Pizza chairman (95-96) and deputy chair of the Kansas City Federal Reserve (92-94). AFP teamed up with American Majority – another non-profit tax dodge foundation used to train right-wing activists that is funded largely by the Sam Adams Alliance – to stage the counter-demonstration in Madison yesterday. (You can Google up all these organizations later, if you have time. I can tell you that once you start pulling threads, it can become a very tangled web that usually ends up with a relatively short list of the same amazingly rich right-wing extremist guys. They don’t call it the Kochtopus for nothing.)

One of the things I’ve noticed about these loudly touted gatherings is that the organizers invariably misrepresent the attendance. For small gatherings, they add a few or maybe double it. For larger gatherings, they sometimes multiply it several times to come up with a number. If you weren’t there to see it, how would you know? Well, you wouldn’t — and that’s why they do it. In Milwaukee a couple of years ago, I physically counted the chairs and then laughed when AFP Mark Block added a couple of hundred people for the media query. In Wausau, a rally that comfortably fit into one triangular quadrant of the 400 block with plenty of room to spare was said to have 2,500 in attendance, even though the number defied physics and an even cursory look. When the newspaper gave an estimate of 1,000 in their ensuing coverage — a number that was still plenty generous — the Tea party folks railed at them for not accepting their bogus figure.

They do it every time and yesterday in Madison was no exception. They tried to sell numbers in excess of 8,000 for their rally at the capitol from the stage and I understand one speaker even claimed 12,000. I don’t know why they do this. It’s not like they don’t know how many busses they chartered, how many seats were empty on the busses, who replied to their websites and how many may have showed up using their own vehicles. Is the professional staff paid on a per-head basis or something?

What I will tell you is that despite the media bending over backwards to make it look like there was significant representation on hand to support Walker in the interests of looking exceedingly fair (and balanced), my best guess is that they had around 2,500. If we give them credit for 1,000 more who were showing up in two and threes in various other areas around the capitol square, that means they were outnumbered by at least 20 to 1. I saw about a half dozen inside the capitol. Some people have been chiding me for the 20 to 1 figure, saying it was more like 200 to 1. But realistically, 20 to 1 would put the 2,500 in the context of a total attendance of 50,000 and 3,500 at a total attendance of 70,000. I think the latter number is a reasonable guess for yesterday’s activities, but it might still be a little light.

Now, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear all kinds of interesting numbers this week on right-wing talk radio and Fox News. That’s why I took a few pictures to show that the Tea Party-AFP-American Majority group comfortably fit into part of a section of paving at one entrance to the capitol at the peak of their rally yesterday. Keep in mind that not everyone in even that relatively small space was a supporter.  (The top two pictures are NOT Walker anti-labor supporters. They’re in the bottom shot; the one with all the empty space around them.)

But my real question is this: Why would anyone want to trust people about matters of education, money or numbers when it’s clear that they’ve never even been able to take attendance?




11 Responses to “Tea Party and education: they can’t even take attendance”

  1. Brian Oblivion Says:

    Hi Jim — saw this blogpost through a friend, and thought I would clarify the Tea Party attendance yesterday. We were at the protest for three hours, from 12 to 3, including an hour where we just sat down to watch the protesters march around the square, thereby having several opportunities to see the same protesters pass us by. Even your numbers are highly highly inflated; I would estimate the Tea Party attendance at 100-200, if that. Yes, that is HUNDREDS. I am thoroughly confused as to where everyone is getting this “thousands” number from, although I could see where footage of pro-union protesters standing around the Tea Party protesters could be misconstrued.

  2. Brian Oblivion Says:

    Oh, jeez, I’m sorry, I didn’t read the last part of your post (D’oh!), and now see you were there, too and have already had your figures challenged. Sorry, but in polling my three other friends who were there at different times, we all agreed that our estimates were more in the 100-200 range.

    Ah, well, whatever, keep up the good fight!

  3. It’s true that there was some mixing of groups. I do think they had more than 100-200, but it’s true that I didn’t go through their crowd to ID people as to their persuasion.

  4. It was difficult to tell people apart, as most people on both sides were dressed similarly. Not everyone carried a sign or shouted slogans. Still, I was there yesterday, and I thought 1,000 would be a generous estimate of attendance at the organized tea party rally at the King Street entrance. The New York Times has a nice photo taken from a high-rise across the street that shows the crowd in the rally area and the much larger crowd surrounding it. I am assuming that most of the Walker supporters who were there during the Noon hour were standing close enough to hear their miked speakers rather than scattered around the square among the union supporters (after the TP rally broke up, the Walker supporters mingled with the marchers).

  5. Always get a good chuckle out of the incoherent ramblings of Jimbo Rosenberg. You silly liberals are really obsessed with size, aren’t you?!!!

    How about the $3.6 billion debt and the 250,000 unemployed in Wisconsin? Are those numbers big enough for ya?

  6. Matt Kaiser Says:

    Elections have consequences, eh, Jim? Where have I heard that before?

    • Maybe Walker should have been like the cowards in Congress and said we need to pass the bill before we can see whats in it…. Elections do have consequences. We are seeing that today with the Obama admistration and the worst Attorney General this countyr has ever saw

  7. it was almost refreshing to be out of state and to make a concerted effort to stay away from news.

    You know me… the republicans are one of my two least favorite political parties… tied with the democrats.

    Where was the outrage when the dems went to closed session to come up with a budget and voted down all the R amendments without even looking if they had merit or not..

    It’s politics as usual. Two years ago, people like me were the pawns. this year, public employees…

    All I can say is this is EXACTLY the reason why I split my votes between D’s and R’s. At least with one of the parties holding either the governership, the assembly or the senate, there is basically an ability to veto unreasonable things. (D’s are just as guilty as dumb things and over-reaction as the R’s are)

    The way unions represent public employees is broken. It needs to be fixed. Is this the fix? It is the only one on the table that I am aware of.

    (however… as far as gov walker goes…even though I actually favor his proposal, don’t blame me – I voted for the other guy)

  8. Well, Governor Walker has generated more traffic to my blog in the last two weeks than I had in the first six months. I suppose I should be grateful, huh? 🙂

  9. I feel sorry for the farmers at the farmers marker. Are they being boycotted too if they do not display a workers rights sign? I know displaying no sign gets you a boycott. To bad the left does not believe in free speech. I would have liked to hear what was said but where I was standing I could here nothing. Is there a reason that the left seems to feel the speech is only free if the liberals are not talking? This move reminds me of the Soviet Union and not America. I also was extremely disappointed in the left shouting down the Star Spangled Banner.

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