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Monday, September 28, 2009

Tea Party Mindset: Paranoia, Apocalypse, and Complete Lack of Evidentiary Skills

I hate to even link to this post, since the writer is coming unhinged, but when a comment leads to an e-mail exchange like this, it's worth the press.

Lori Stacey of Sioux Falls is an exemplar of the McCarthyite Tea Party movement. Conspiracy theories, inability to use evidence, apocalyptic/messianic delusions—everything you need to guarantee no effective political action. But she at least recognizes, as I do, that supporting George W. Bush in 2000 was a bad idea.

Stacey wrote a post for the faux-local Examiner.com about the "real" numbers at the Glenn Beck party in Washington, DC, on September 12. She claims that numerous photos and sources prove that the gathering was "the largest protest in US history."

I couldn't resist commenting. I said that a profound claim like "largest protest in US history" required some affirmative proof. I noted that her post lacked any links or reliable sources. The only specific source Stacey named was Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who as a speaker at the rally probably isn't the first person we should turn to for an objective crowd estimate. (Blackburn has also shown slick hypocrisy and a weak grasp of facts previously.) I also noted that the photo her commenter "woot" cited appeared to be the one Bob Schwartz and others showed early on was a ruse, a photo lifted from a much earlier and larger Washington protest.

She hasn't published my comment (Stacey appears to follow a "supporters only" comment policy—living in an echo chamber is another common chracteristic of the Tea Party paranoiacs). She did, however, grace me with an e-mail reply:


There are 100's of photos online that show parts of the crowd but the best picture is from a vantage point of the balcony of the Capitol Building and is under exclusive rights by photographer Michael A. Beck and FreedomWorks.org which was the main sponsor of the event which would be the best vantage point for what you are looking for.

I can't just publish any photo I want to without permission. The Examiner is rightly very strict on this point. Here is a link to a blogger that claims to have gotten permission to publish this particular photo. You can click on the image and enlarge it. Since the image is now being used in a copyrighted poster sold by Freedom Works there is no way I am publishing it on my webpage. http://iowntheworld.com/blog/?p=6500

I referenced Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn being told that it was estimated to be 1.5 million. If you are really after the proof, then I would suggest contacting her office and finding out her source. There are many other sources that have likewise estimated between 1.5 and 2 million so provide me with proof that there wasn't.

MLK's speech was less than a million by reported estimates. Too bad there are not more people like him today. I stand by my story.

Lori Stacey
Sioux Falls Conservative Examiner [e-mail, 2009.09.27]

My reply:

Dear Lori,

Thank you for taking time to reply to my comment. Alas, I find your answers evasive and unsatisfactory. The claim of copyright fear is specious. You could easily provide links in your blog post to the sources that own the original photos. The site you provide in the e-mail claims association with an anonymous congressperson? It just gets more suspicious. The photo provides no quantification, no context. The iowntheworld blog appears no more credible or unbiased than you or I.

Congresswoman Blackburn is far from an independent source. I would not take a crowd count from either a Republican or a Democratic Congressperson as gospel. Rep. Blackburn "mentioned in her speech" the million-plus figure... hmm... not exactly a head count.

Now on burden of proof, you are the one making the affirmative claim ("largest protest in America ever!"). You have the burden to prove such an audacious claim. It is not the duty of others to provide negative proof that any given words coming from your mouth are false.

However, I enjoy going above and beyond the call of duty. Let's turn to Politifact.com, which cites four sources, including Fox News, that put 9/12 attendance in the tens of thousands, maybe 60K-75K. The Hill reports "tens of thousands" as well, with 30,000 marchers registered online. That's no small potatoes, plenty to brag about... but still well shy of the claim "largest protest in America ever."



I love citizen journalism. I hope you'll keep writing. But when you make remarkable claims about historic protest numbers, I hope you'll ever more solid evidence than the wishful thinking and cheerleading of protest leaders.

You and I have the same goal, to save America one good argument at a time. I have plenty of my own biases, but if we are to do any good, we citizen media need to do what we can to back our views with facts. Keep at it!

Cory Allen Heidelberger -- Madville Times [e-mail, 2009.09.27]

And then the wheels come off.


Even in your own links, the article sites many different sources ranging up to 2 million. So you only chose to mention the lower figures in your reply and a very different photo. I knew about the organizing of the event before FreedomWorks, before Glenn Beck. It was originally a completely grassroots effort by other organizations and was supposed to be for the entire weekend and had 900,000 confirmed to attend months ago. That is the back story that I knew about personally along with many that actually attended and know how far the crowd stretched and how many buses that were chartered from many states by private citizens in grassroots efforts. A picture does not always serve as the only evidence or testimony. Sometimes pictures don't do a story the accurate justice.

I usually write about WAY MORE controversial information like the truth about what is REALLY happening to our country and the world BEHIND THE SCENES. Instead of this debating, the people should be uniting because we are ALL in big trouble. It does not matter one bit if it was Obama or McCain, the one's that pull the strings are behind both major parties and We The People in this world are all in for a very rough ride.

1. The dollar will be replaced by an IMF World Currency.
2. Bush signed documents in March of 2005 to merge the US with Canada and Mexico BY 2010, they will pretend that is an all of a sudden solution when our economy crashes very soon.
3. 9/11 was a complete fraud and vehicle to terrorize our own citizens into giving up our freedoms in the name of security.
4. FEMA is not your friend!
5. As one human being to another, DON'T TAKE ANY VACCINE.

I am no dummy, I have done exhaustive research for years. Unfortunately, if we all don't come together, we will all lose our country and our freedoms. A revolution, a civil war or a one world government for which China is the model. Those will be our choices if more Americans don't get off their couches and start doing some real research and open their eyes.

I spend most of my time writing in other forums and just started with the Examiner. I used to do my own internet tv shows talking about all of the controversial subjects with all the proof in the world to back it up. Some people sadly just don't know the truth. Others, you can show them all the proof and they choose to keep their head in the sand. And lastly some have had their entire lives and views changed by finally seeing the truth. The last group will end up hopefully saving our country!

Time will tell, the truth will come about for all to see. I warn people that are open to listen and don't waste precious time on one's that won't anymore.

Good day,

Lori [e-mail, 2009.09.27]

Funny that after years of exhaustive research, she's decided to simply ignore opposition rather than provide some evidence. Oh well, as she said, it's exhaustive research. She's tired.

But never give up, never surrender:

Dear Lori,

Unfortunately, you still have failed to offer any justification for the higher crowd estimates. The sources claiming million-plus crowds are all promoters of the demonstration. The sources claiming thousands (again, thousands, a remarkable number, requiring no exaggeration) are all outside observers with little to no stake in inflating the estimate.

You can choose to live in your own fantasy world (America and merging with Canada and Mexico? again, where's the proof?) and ignore those who not only listen but dispute your baseless claims, or you can choose to live in reality. You will be much more effective as a voice for change when you choose reality.

(By the way, I see you haven't published my comment. Could you send me a copy of the text I wrote? Thank you.)


Cory Allen Heidelberger -- Madville Times [e-mail, 2009.09.28]

Oh well. Another fruitless conversation before breakfast. But on we go! Be sure to get your flu shots!

Update 16:15 CDT: This is why I don't do conspiracy theories. They just let to endless silliness. Ms. Stacey responds:


Your comment WAS published and was not deleted until very late last night. It was RUDE and I did not have to keep it published all day or respond to it.

Many State Legislatures have passed bills to try to STOP the North American Union. It is a fantasy??? Ever wonder why the Federal Government won't build a border fence even after appropriating funds to build it?

This is all old news. Wake Up America!!!


I have years of proof but no time for someone that chooses to remain in their own world.

Good luck to you and God Bless,

Lori [e-mail, 2009.09.28]

Vexed, I dash off a quick note before class:

Dear Lori,

"I have years of proof but no time..."

Ah, the last refuge of those who have no proof. You sound just like Senator McCarthy. Such disregard for truth poses a much greater threat to America than any of the fantasies you have concocted.


Cory Allen Heidelberger [e-mail 2009.09.28]

Incensed, Ms. Stacey answers:

You obviously did not even LOOK at the video that I sent. You won't look at any proof as I suspected!!! So there is no reason to refer you to hundreds of my links, documents, videos, etc.

End of discussion.

Lori [e-mail, 2009.09.28]


Dear Lori,

Actually, I have taken the time to watch it. I could put together a similar video... but would you believe it? Who's the source?

Ah. Peter Joseph. Zeitgeist. Roundly discredited:

[Jane Chapman, Issues in Contemporary Documentary, in Google Books]

By the way, Tim Callahan writes that Joseph opens the film you cite with a denial of the existence of Jesus. If you plan to make Joseph a central part of your arguments, you might want to prepare a response on how you aren't also advocating atheism or nature worship. Folks around here tend to respond negatively to associations with such concepts.

Dr. Jane Chapman, who knows more about film-making than either of us, calls Zeitgeist a "typical conspiracy movie" that makes "unethical use of content and of records."

In short, the video you sent me is both unethical and incorrect.

There are plenty of real problems in the world to solve: silly lockdown policies at Tea High School, South Dakota's looming budget shortfall, corporate farming, pollution, etc. Feel free to join me in speaking out about such problems, problems that matter to a majority of our fellow South Dakotans. Your passion directed toward real, practical problems would be welcome. It might even make a difference... unlike adherence to unprovable, imaginary conspiracies.

Cory Allen Heidelberger [e-mail, 2009.09.28]

And so on, ad nauseum....

Update 2009.09.29:
More silliness ensues:


You are obviously the problem. Lou Dobbs is not credible? Security and Prosperity Partnership (spp.gov) was not real? The Conservative Caucus is not credible? Many states' legislatures voted to block something that doesn't exist??? The documents on the Council on Foreign Relations where most is plotted for everyone to see, is not real? My entire political party, the Constitution Party is not credible? Congressman Tom Tancredo, Marcy Kaptur, Virgil Goode, Ron Paul have all been fighting something that does not exist for years? Not to mention Barry Goldwater, the John Birch Society and many other people and organizations with all the proof in the world for over 50 years?

A library of info from yet another source.

I gave you a chance but you are beyond hope and are just an attack dog. Those are the tactics of people that don't want to ever wake up and smell the coffee. You will be no hope in saving our nation until the reality hits you right in the face. Until then, you are part of the problem. This is my last reply.

Lori [Stacey, e-mail, 2009.09.28]

Anyone want to lay odds on that last sentence?

Dear Lori,

"Attack dog"? If that is the label you use for everyone who has the gall to refute your arguments, couldn't I apply the same label to you?

"Many states' legislatures voted to block something that doesn't exist??? The documents on the Council on Foreign Relations where most is plotted for everyone to see, is not real? My entire political party, the Constitution Party is not credible? Congressman Tom Tancredo, Marcy Kaptur, Virgil Goode, Ron Paul have all been fighting something that does not exist for years?"

Do you realize how illogical those statements are? The existence of people who believe X does not prove the existence of X. The existence of the Council on Foreign Relations does not prove the existence of the conspiracies you ascribe to X and more than the existence of the Catholic Church proves the existence of the DaVinci Code.

Woof woof.

CAH [e-mail, 2009.09.29]

So remember, everyone, I'm just a problematic attack dog. Conspiracy theorists like Lori Stacey believe 9/11 and Jesus are hoaxes. Choose your partners, do-see-do!


  1. We will all know the true extent of the "tea party" movement in November, 2010.

  2. Wow, everything seemed all reasonable and then the crazy came out! It kind of sneaked up on you there. With some people, even if you were to flow the conversation, they will never be capable of following logical arguments.

    If this kind of a conversation happened in real life she would just shake her head and say no after you made a point and then repeated her original point. There seems to be a comparator in her head that checks to see if what you said agrees with her position. If it doesn't she just ignores it and acts as if you never said anything.

  3. Why was Marsha Blackburn or any Politician allowed to speak?
    Marsha Blackburn Voted FOR:
    Omnibus Appropriations, Special Education, Global AIDS Initiative, Job Training, Unemployment Benefits, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations, Agriculture Appropriations, U.S.-Singapore Trade, U.S.-Chile Trade, Supplemental Spending for Iraq & Afghanistan, Prescription Drug Benefit, Child Nutrition Programs, Surface Transportation, Job Training and Worker Services, Agriculture Appropriations, Foreign Aid, Vocational/Technical Training, Supplemental Appropriations, UN “Reforms.” Patriot Act Reauthorization, CAFTA, Katrina Hurricane-relief Appropriations, Head Start Funding, Line-item Rescission, Oman Trade Agreement, Military Tribunals, Electronic Surveillance, Head Start Funding, COPS Funding, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Peru Free Trade Agreement, Economic Stimulus, Farm Bill (Veto Override), Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening.

    Marsha Blackburn Voted AGAINST:
    Ban on UN Contributions, eliminate Millennium Challenge Account, WTO Withdrawal, UN Dues Decrease, Defunding the NAIS, Iran Military Operations defunding Iraq Troop Withdrawal, congress authorization of Iran Military Operations.

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her unconstitutional votes at :

  4. Coo coo for Cocoa Puffs. Remember next year the US, Canada and Mexico will all merge. Maybe we can get that Canadian health care system then.

  5. So that was George W. Bush's plan! He's like Anakin Skywalker: despite the evil mask, compassionate conservatism still lived in his heart!

  6. I think the reason the numbers attending the tea party are so controversial is due to the incomprehensible 30,000 number. The difference between that and 2 million is so vast it becomes difficult to believe one side or the other isn't outright lying.
    This article does a fair job looking at the number with something more than just pictures.
    I have to say I just LOVE it when somebody in my crowd starts spouting on about the president's birth certificate or MexAmeriCanada. The number of commercials I hear proclaiming the virtue of gold is nauseating(did you know it's never been valued at zero!!!!!) but my favorites are the survival seed bank ads.

    What we have to remember is that we could as easily find nutjobs in any ideological corner. Just this week we once again had the anti-globalism fanatics protesting the G20 summit, not to mention the daily insanity broadcast by Amy Goodman

    We also should keep in mind the principle that just because someone is paranoid doesn't mean they are not being stalked. Glenn Beck boarded the crazy train a long time ago (I was there) He is wrong about a lot of it, but he is right about enough of it that the 'sane' among us, like David Frum, ignore that oncoming train at their peril.

  7. wait -- if the US will merge with Canada in 2010, does that mean Universal Healthcare?!!!

    amen, and pass the poutine enchiladas.


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