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?