Tea Leaves


Nate Silver estimates that yesterday’s “tea parties” altogether drew about 250,000 participants. Chris Good puts the number of tea partiers a lot lower, at a mere 25,650, but Nate is the numbers guy so I’m going with his estimate.

As many have pointed out, there were more people than that in some anti-war protests in New York City alone. However, I’ve seen some hand-wringing on the Left from people who say that the tea parties show the wingnuts are catching on to online organizing. We should be afraid.

I don’t think so. I believe most of the people who showed up to tea party yesterday were not “organized” online but by Fox News and talk radio. They may have been told how to go to a website to find the closest tea party, yes. But considering all the hype the tea parties have received from electronic mass media, a turnout of 250,000 nationwide falls way short of impressive.

On February 15 2003, between 6 and 10 million people in about 60 countries around the world participated in a day of protest against the invasion of Iraq. At least 300,000 to 400,000 of us — and those are the lower estimates — were jammed together on First, Second and Third avenues that day. This organizing was done almost entirely online. And in the U.S. this achievement was largely ignored by news media, even in New York, both before and after the event.

For that matter, the immigration marches of a couple of years ago were considerably bigger and more impressive.

So the shills on Fox News were able to stir up 250,000 of the hard core, “low information” whackjob Right, a crew far more alarming than inspiring. There are plans for a bigger event on July 4, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the powers behind yesterday’s tea parties quietly drop plans for follow-up events.

Update: I think somebody needs to have a talk with this guy.

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  1. c u n d gulag  •  Apr 16, 2009 @2:13 pm

    There was little grassroots activity.
    As a former anti-war activist, I know that at ALL events, we gathered names, addresses, e-mails, and, if possible, phone numbers. This was done to gather more people to the NEXT event.
    The teabag organizers were so afraid of ACORN and other “left” of center groups, that they told their people NOT to sign petitions, or otherwise give out their information. This will hurt them when, if, there is another event like this.

    BTW, looking at the photo’s I’ve seen, I doubt that there were more than 125,000 nationwide. Of course, it may have been a larger number it there were a lot of sparcely attended events in smaller towns that had no coverage.

  2. justme  •  Apr 16, 2009 @3:52 pm

    For a bunch of people who were protesting waste, they sure cost the taxpayer a lot of money we just don’t have yesterday.Extra police,medical personal,security at many locations(our state capitol here for example). The people who maintain said locations were forced to clean up after these events, not to mention the cost of disposing of all of those wasted tea bags(the righties can afford to waste money on tea?) …all of this and sooooo much more just so they could get together and complain about paying a bill that they created. So I want to know, what did yesterdays dog and pony show cost ME?????
    Also….I want to know NAMES of all the grass- rooots organizers…and we should all know their names on a local level. Here is why. Yesterday I read about a lady on social security who organized one…she is taking a hand out yet she complains about waste after SHE failed to plan for her golden years..her concern? Our country turning into a welfare state.Another man said he owned a driveway re- surfacing business….well I have a solution for his tax troubles…if no one uses his business he won’t have to pay a bunch of taxes on income he doesn’t make..problem solved! Here we have a real estate company owner, doug burnett who has made big bucks off of the backs of hard working Iowans. He lives in a 300k home in Sherman hills and owns others who is taking a TAX ABATEMENT of 14k of improvements he has done to his home…he doesn’t need it, but he still took it. He is not paying taxes on said improvements for 10 YEARS!The tax payers are getting ripped off so he can have granite countertops in his kitchen…..Well I know how to fix his tax troubles too!!!!Don’t buy a house from him…easy! No income=no taxes!!!! Tea bag that!
    The way I see life is that your either a solution or a part of the problem.Yesterday these people added to the problem.They added to the bill that they are already bitching about paying.I want my damn money back that they cost us ALL yesterday and I want it NOW! They want to tea bag again on the 4th of July…I say that gives them plenty of time to figure out how they can be burdened with the cost instead of putting the burden on the rest of us who were at work covering their jobs so they could go out and compare the president to Hitler.
    If these so called “grass roots” organizers want to take the credit for holding events we all know faux news created than I say we send those people a big fat bill for the services they used yesterday. I refuse to see my tax dollars going to pay for tea bagging.

  3. Hermetically Sealed  •  Apr 16, 2009 @3:52 pm

    Teabaggers / twenty-five perecenters / Righties in general can be easily described in two words:

    “Drama queens”

  4. Steve M.  •  Apr 16, 2009 @3:53 pm

    On February 15 2003, between 6 and 10 million people in about 60 countries around the world participated in a day of protest against the invasion of Iraq. At least 300,000 to 400,000 of us — and those are the lower estimates — were jammed together on First, Second and Third avenues that day.

    And it was utterly freezing that day in New York. So I don’t want to hear the wingers whine about how they couldn’t get anyone to show up on the East Coast because it was chilly and raining.

  5. William Teach  •  Apr 16, 2009 @4:13 pm

    No. Don’t “be afraid.” At the base, this is not about being anti-left, anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, but being for limited government, limited and WISE spending, oversight of the government.

    And Fox News had nothing to do with it. They may have tried to join in, but, your MoveOn talking point is a complete pantload.

  6. Sachem  •  Apr 16, 2009 @4:19 pm

    It’s is disturbing when the conspiracy theorists come to count among there ranks those that should know better. See this Daily What post about character designer Michael Dougherty of Fairly OddParents fame.

  7. PurpleGirl  •  Apr 16, 2009 @4:32 pm

    WT: If these people are for WISE spending then where have they been for the last 8 years, especially since the invasion of Iraq?… that mistake will cost us trillions of dollars in associated costs in the future?

  8. Hermetically Sealed  •  Apr 16, 2009 @4:48 pm

    “At the base, this is not about being anti-left, anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, but being for limited government, limited and WISE spending, oversight of the government.”

    Coulda fooled me, looking at all the signs these tools-for-the-right were carrying, calling liberals “traitors” and depicting Obama as Hitler, Mao, etc. Yeah, right.

  9. Hermetically Sealed  •  Apr 16, 2009 @4:49 pm

    I hereby designate these morons “Palinites.”

  10. BadKitty  •  Apr 16, 2009 @5:03 pm

    There were quite a few Glenn Beck-ites and Rush-ites in our local tea party. I suspect it was primarily promoted here by FOX and talk radio. Our tea party was completely taken over by the religious right. All of the speeches were about putting god back in our government. This is a smallish town and there were not many people there but, judging by the comments in today’s newspaper, they succeeded in alienating people from the left, right and center with their religious rantings.

  11. justme  •  Apr 16, 2009 @5:12 pm

    William, my friend, I am not afraid I AM PISSED! DON’T talk to me about wise spending until you have paid IN CASH for what this nonsense cost ME and the other tax payers of this country. And you want to talk about limited government after you said NOTHING as gw grew the government for the past 8 years? Bullshit. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining honey.

    A bunch of people went out and bought so much tea that pepsi(who owns lipton) saw a stock jump yesterday just to throw it away without even using the bags thinks they can tell me about wise spending?????

    The Mccain stimulus was even larger..but somehow I have the feeling there would have been no tea bagging had he won…all that aside we had our chance to protest the Mccain stimulus on Nov 5th and we did.

    And oversight? DON’T SPEAK TO ME ABOUT OVERSIGHT AFTER THE LAST 8 YEARS…I didn’t notice any tea bagging(or oversight) …funny it comes up now out of the blue…hmmmmm

  12. Hermetically Sealed  •  Apr 16, 2009 @5:16 pm

    Approximately 25% of Americans clung fast to support Bush (2007-2008)
    Approximately 25% of Americans are evangelicals (2004)

    Coincidence? Nope.

    And those same 25% were die-hard Sarah Palin supporters.

  13. maha  •  Apr 16, 2009 @5:38 pm

    No. Don’t “be afraid.” At the base, this is not about being anti-left, anti-Obama, anti-Democrat, but being for limited government, limited and WISE spending, oversight of the government.

    And Fox News had nothing to do with it. They may have tried to join in, but, your MoveOn talking point is a complete pantload.

    Oh, please, William, that’s just plain delusional. Get help.

  14. freD  •  Apr 16, 2009 @5:40 pm

    Honest to goodness government tax and spend watchdogging is a good thing.

    But it ‘s crying shame that it’s those people. Sore-Loserman, invade and convert, St. Dubya, Schaivo, fetus people, tax the poor’s grandkids to feed the rich, liberals are traitors…

    Crap. The gubmint’s never gonna quit ballooning now. 🙁

  15. moonbat  •  Apr 16, 2009 @6:06 pm

    William is on to something, although he needs to face the facts about tea bagging being the product of some serious right wing organizing and massive encouragement from above. These tea baggers are largely tools for the wealthy, who would love to see their taxes cut, with said useful idiots left out to dry, weaned from those horrible government services they so utilize but claim they despise.

    I just returned from lunch, where I overheard a conversation between two people with connections in the film industry. The theme was secession, which has gained some prominence in parallel with teabagging. One man was saying “I’m all for it, if it can be done intelligently”. It was difficult for me to know whether these were died in the wool teabaggers, or sophisticated Californians who’ve had enough of watching right wing stupidity drag this country down.

  16. ozonehole  •  Apr 16, 2009 @6:43 pm

    The teabaggers themselves don’t worry me so much. My big concern is that they have a point, even if they don’t know it – Obama’s/Bernanke’s deficit spending (which is mostly hidden and does not appear in the budget figures) will bring us to ruin. The main source of the deficits are the current bailouts and commitments for more, now totaling around $12 trillion. Much of this is in the form of “loans” to banks, but the money will never be paid back, and when the banks default the taxpayers will inherit their debt.

    Please take a look at this article:


    The fraudulantly manufactured economic “recovery” that we are now experiencing will almost certainly blow up in Obama’s face. People will blame him. The know-nothing righties are already blaming him, even though they think that the economy crashed because of liberals forcing women to have abortions, gay marriage, teaching evolution and sex education in schools, and the global warming “hoax.” One rightie I know says that Al Gore has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin combined – go figure. It doesn’t matter that these empty-headed people are clueless about the source of our economic disaster – they think that Bush and Reagan were economic geniuses, but ACORN stole the election and ruined the country. Oh yes, and Obama isn’t even a US citizen, he was born in Kenya.

    Obama inherited this mess, it isn’t his fault, but if he continues with Bush’s Enron-style economic policies, then we are headed for disaster and the Republicans might get back into power.

  17. joanr16  •  Apr 16, 2009 @7:05 pm

    I have no idea how many whackjobs convened yesterday, but if Nate Silver says it was 250K, I’ll accept that. He was gloriously accurate about the election outcome, and numbers-crunching is clearly his superpower.

    So, we divide 250,000 whackjobs by 250,000,000 total Americans (a very low estimate)… and we get 0.001. That’s one one-thousandth, folks, or one-tenth of 1 percent.

    So for every W. Teach who refuses to open his eyes and see what’s around him, who replaces original thought every single time he comments with empty talking points, there are 999 Americans who may be liberal, moderate, or conservative-agnostic-disillusioned, who yesterday went to work, or looked for work, or just stayed home and read a worthwhile book (i.e., one not written by Ayn Rand).

    One-tenth of 1 percent. That’s all. And that was before the other 99.999% of America got a look at them and their nasty signs.

  18. Hermetically Sealed  •  Apr 16, 2009 @8:14 pm

    But what’s annoying is that these Palinites were given so much media attention (and not just on FAUX) while the millions of people who protested against our war crimes in Iraq got hardly any coverage. The disproportion of media coverage is astounding.

  19. Chief  •  Apr 16, 2009 @8:35 pm

    There was a “teabag” event in Sidney, Ohio, the county seat of the county just north of me. The local newspaper, a Republican/John Boehner shill, did not even estimate the crowd size. Musta been rather small.

  20. Kaleberg  •  Apr 16, 2009 @11:25 pm

    Our local turnout was estimated at 400 by the local paper, out of 80,000 people in the county. They made the front page along with a warning about those toxic canisters washing up and a recent Coast Guard rescue. The front page picture said it all though. They signs were for the local Republican Party and “We want our country back.” They probably want to ram it into a wall a few more times.

  21. MNPundit  •  Apr 17, 2009 @11:20 am

    More than 300,000 now. I think we should damn well be concerned. Even if Fox did engineer this, that is still a lot of people and who knows what they will fling them at next?

  22. dr. luba  •  Apr 17, 2009 @5:56 pm

    Keep in mind that these protests were on April 15th. You know, Tax Day. This day historically brings out the right wing crazies, which is why Fox et. al chose it. I am told that there are usually protests scheduled already. Fox were just builidng on this base.

    And I love the linked photo. MSNBC (or Anderson Cooper) would have had a field day with that one. They had trouble keeping a straight face all day as it were. Reminds me a story about my nephew. Our family is Eastern Orthodox and, on Palm Sunday, pussy willow branches are handed out in church. My nephew, acting all cool and grown up (at the ripe age of 9), turned to his mom and, quite innocently, told her he was heading up to the altar to “Get some pussy.” She didn’t know whether to laugh or shush him.

    My nephew had an excuse–he was nine.

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