Restoring sanity one rally at a time

A few thoughts on the Rally. First, here’s an image of the rally compared to Beck’s rally earlier this year via airphotoslive.com:

rallies

I know the point of the rally was not to compare or compete or whatever, but still… I don’t know if this points to something fundamentally flawed in the analysis of the enthusiasm gap, or if it just means that Stewart/Colbert are more popular than Glenn Beck. All I know is that the rally looks like it was a lot of fun.

Jack Gillis was there and he noted that there were fundamental similarities between the Beck and Stewart rallies as well:

It was important to both crowds to know that we weren’t alone in drowning in bleakness. We were together drowning in bleakness.

That sounds about right.

I thought Jon Stewart’s speech was great. I also think that there’s something of a misnomer in the title of the rally itself – which was sort of the point: Americans really haven’t gone insane. Sanity has not really been misplaced the last two years. A lot of optimism has died, but the vast majority of craziness – as Stewart points out – takes place in D.C. and on cable TV. The anger and insanity do exist, but “Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives”. For better or worse, most people don’t obsess over this stuff.

Indeed, for most Americans who don’t obsessively watch cable TV or read political blogs, the terms ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ are rarely even spoken or thought about all that much. Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is, or the first thing about actual policy decisions, or who to blame for the bad ones – which might be why the GOP is still poised, with one day left before the polls open, to make sizeable gains in the House.

Either way, like any good fiction, things are likely to get worse before they get better. The signs at the Sanity rally were funnier than the signs at the Beck rally, but one wonders if the value of irony will be quite as useful at the polls as passion and fear.






93 replies
  1. 1
    DougJ says:

    I think that most Americans also don’t get caught up in all the crazy stories that cable news pushes: terrorism, soshsulism, start hoarding gold and guns! Or in all the crazy stories the Village pushes: Obama is too elitist, real Murkins want someone they can have a beer with, etc.

    To me, that’s more the issue than that people don’t identify completely as conservative or liberal or whatever.

  2. 2
    Bob L says:

    Either way, like any good fiction, things are likely to get worse before they get better. The signs at the Sanity rally were funnier than the signs at the Beck rally, but one wonders if the value of irony will be quite as useful at the polls as passion and fear.

    It’s fear I will lose my job they are voting by. Unfortunately they didn’t get the link that while the Democrats are blameless the GOP are the assholes who screwed it up and will just screw it up again.

  3. 3
    Steve says:

    I’m not sure we have any more crazy in this country than we did in the past, but what we have is a lot more veneration of crazy. The media, in their urge to fill a 24/7 news cycle, basically lets all the crazy and non-crazy views through without providing any sort of a filter.

    I don’t think this necessarily results in the mainstreaming of crazy views – I don’t think the media needs to call bullshit on birthers for people to form the correct view about them – but it does result in the mainstreaming of fact-free views. Pointing out that the earth is, in fact, round may be journalistically responsible, but it doesn’t fill nearly as much air time as repeated debates between round-earthers and flat-earthers.

  4. 4
    John S. says:

    But in the wingnutosphere, they reject your facts and replace them with their own.

    On the CBS story with the crowd assessment, the comments were littered with Teatards adamant that the numbers were evidence of liberal bias and that Beck’s rally really was bigger. Their proof was linking to ridiculously stretched and photoshopped pictures at places like Gateway Pundit, Hot Air, etc.

    Even common factoids cannot go unchallenged these days.

  5. 5
    RedKitten says:

    Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is

    Man, that statement just gave me the warmest, fuzziest, most comforting feeling I’ve had in a long time.

  6. 6
    Dave says:

    The problem is simple. News isn’t about informing the populace and presenting facts and analysis. It’s about ratings. And sober news presentation doesn’t get good ratings.

  7. 7
    Peter J says:

    First, here’s an image of the rally compared to Beck’s rally earlier this year via airphotoslive.com

    We all know that all liberals are fat. I just need to point out how fat über-liberals Al Gore and Michael Moore are to prove that. So, just comparing the size of the crowds is wrong, since all these fat liberals take up a lot more space. Did I mention fat liberals?

    /TEABAGGER OFF

  8. 8
    Stillwater says:

    Americans really haven’t gone insane.

    OK. Can we agree, then, that conservatives have gone insane? Or do we split hairs and conclude that they’ve always been insane.

  9. 9

    people in d.c. may sell bullshit to the beckian demo, but its not a place that is hugely beckian….i wonder about the geographic pull of each rally..how many people really travelled to them, and how far was to far for most people to come from.seems like the colbert/stewart show would be more popular, and socially acceptable, amongst people living in and around d.c.

    i just doubt in anyone “got on the bus” for it, but it probably was more of a local its-free-what-the-hell event…

  10. 10
    birthmarker says:

    @Bob L: Amen . This is the question-who shipped your job off and why would it ever come back?

    A point on polls–I don’t answer the phone if I think it is a solicitor of any stripe. Can I be that different from others? Even an elderly relative told me he has quit answering the phone if the caller id doesn’t show up as someone he knows. Does this and the nonpolling of cell phone users not skew the results? I guess we will know tomorrow.

  11. 11
    Martin says:

    @Dave: Well, actually in this case the news outfits seem to have effectively informed their audience. But those facts were rejected out of hand.

    How do you inform an audience that doesn’t want to be informed?

  12. 12
    jrg says:

    A functional brain is required for both sanity and insanity, so in that sense, no, half the country has not gone insane.

    It’s impossible for someone who believes “death panels are coming for grandma” to go insane, as the very concept of insanity assumes a level of cognitive ability greater than that of a speckled trout.

    Sanity is not the issue. Profound stupidity is.

  13. 13

    Just supposing, I’d guess 95% of Beck ralliers will show up tomorrow to vote for Republican candidates (or Tom Tancredo). What will the Sanitizers do tomorrow? I bet most of them will not vote for Republicans, though some probably will, proudly voting for the person and not the party, even though their “moderate” Republican will vote the same way as Christine O’Donnell 90+% of the time. A solid chunk, probably a majority will vote for Democrats. A decent chunk will vote for “sane” third-party candidates who can’t win, have no way to use those votes to gain traction for 2012, have no plan for how they’d operate in Congress if some miracle did lead them to victory, etc. And a decent chunk will internalize the message that both sides are equally nuts and sit it out. After all, nobody asked them to vote, or suggested that the imminent election had any important policy implications. Indeed, as far as I can tell, nobody asked them to do anything — they were activated and dismissed.

  14. 14
    birthmarker says:

    @Peter J: I have always thought Beck’s crowd looked really spread out, like a picnic, and Stewart’s crowd looks like they are jammed in shoulder to shoulder. If you attend large college football games, it gives you a context for how many people are at Stewart’s event. It looks like stadiums full…

  15. 15
    Mike says:

    [em]I know the point of the rally was not to compare or compete or whatever, [/em]
    I think that it actually was – not THE point, but part of it. I don’t know that Comedy Central knew for sure that they would draw bigger crowd, but they must suspect at least, that the Daily Show p.o.v. is much more mainstream than that of the 9/12, so the likely that they’d better the wingnut numbers. If there really wasn’t some overriding ‘message’, the actual context of the event – dervived, I believe from the intended point – proves that there are more sane folks than nuts, or at least counting the ones who will travel from wherever to stand in front of a stage for a few hours in a symbolically important location.

    And if not, the Punditocracy seems to be treating it as a competition anyway, and already declaring themselves the winners.

  16. 16
    ChrisS says:

    Meh, polls are pretty accurate, especially multiple polls.

    Tomorrow is looking to be pretty depressing.

    And I don’t buy the “most people don’t identify as …” pap. Most people I know, especially those in the lower middle/working class are more than happy to bitch about liberals taxing and spending to help all negroes, mexicans, and fags without so much as blinking an eye. None of them think that the GOP is responsible for a sliver of the rough shape America is in these days. And I live in NY. The working class is being fucked over by capitalists and they’re blaming the democrats. Most of these guys were the reliable union vote 30 years ago. The capitalists exported the jobs and then blamed the unions for relocating industry.

    Obama was right when he said people cling to god and guns when they’re scared.

  17. 17
    Violet says:

    Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is

    What data do you have to back this up? How many is “plenty”? There could be a lot of people who do not know who Glenn Beck is, but there could also be “plenty” who do. Are the not-knowing plenty a majority? Minority? Is it just five random individuals waiting at a local bus stop?

    Plenty of people don’t know anything about soccer, but that doesn’t stop it from being the most popular sport in the world. Plenty of people don’t know who Bruce Springsteen is, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t filling up stadiums every time he tours.

    “Plenty” and “a significant number” aren’t necessarily the same thing.

  18. 18
    Suck It Up! says:

    Anti-Obama infomercial (INFOMERCIAL) running in Kentucky, PA, WI, IA, and NC

    I am not going to watch it. You can if you want. At least read the article.

    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/.....fomerical/

  19. 19

    I have absolutely no issue with the fact that the rally was held, nor with the manner in which it was held, and in fact I really wish I could have been there.

    Having gotten that caveat out of the way, I am frustrated by the fact that the focus is on the way that bad behavior and bad decisions are reported, rather than on the fact that people are behaving badly.

    I absolutely agree that the media has a lot to answer for in the current political tone and atmosphere — but at the same time, I think that the politicians and their backers have a bigger role (which, in this case, happens to include Fox “News,” so as John Cole or DougJ recently said: Could we please start talking about them as one of the political actors on the stage, and stop referring to them as a news outlet?). Fox News and MSNBC are not each other’s moral equivalent, and it’s kind of Crossfire-y to suggest that they are.

    Anyhoo, here’s one of my favorite signs: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c.....;ref=fpblg

  20. 20

    @jrg: Also, too – This: Sanity is not the issue. Profound stupidity is.

  21. 21
    Zifnab says:

    @Bob L:

    It’s fear I will lose my job they are voting by. Unfortunately they didn’t get the link that while the Democrats are blameless

    You can’t control both houses of Congress AND the Presidency and play the “blameless” card. The Democrats weren’t able to do everything they wanted, much less everything that needed to be done. But they were the guys driving the car – to borrow Obama’s analogy.

    I agree it’s stupid to hand the keys back to the Republicans. I disagree that the current administration remains blameless. While I, myself, think we need more and better Democrats, everyone seems to agree the status quo isn’t working.

  22. 22
    New Yorker says:

    Am I the only one here who looks at what will likely happen tomorrow and sees nothing out of the ordinary?

    1) The party holding the White House almost always loses seats in Congress in the midterms.

    2) Economic troubles almost always produce angry populist political movements (see Weimar Germany and the Great Depression for more on that).

    This would be occurring whether Obama passed healthcare and finance reform or not. Let’s just be happy he got those things through, accept (for the moment) what appears to be a historical inevitability, and wait for a Congress run by teabagging loons to self-destruct.

  23. 23
    cleek says:

    @birthmarker:

    and Stewart’s crowd looks like they are jammed in shoulder to shoulder.

    they were. at least where we were standing (at the far end of the official rally area – just in front of 7th St, about 2500ft from the stage). two of our gang left before the rally started, to use the bathroom, and they were unable to get back because the crowd was packed too tightly.

    it was like being up front at a packed rock concert, but the stage was nearly too far away to see.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Emily L. Hauser/ellaesther:

    I am frustrated by the fact that the focus is on the way that bad behavior and bad decisions are reported, rather than on the fact that people are behaving badly.

    Whose fault is it that the fact that people are behaving badly isn’t the focus? Isn’t it the job of the media to report what’s going on? If someone is behaving badly, doesn’t the media have an obligation to report it? I think so, but they don’t seem to think so.

    You won’t get any focus on people’s behavior until the media changes how they report news. Their false equivalency style is a big part of why bad behavior isn’t being reported as such.

  25. 25

    @Stillwater: Word!

    When their lies get more airspace than any facts, something is disgracefully wrong with our “news.”

  26. 26
    FFrank says:

    Well, I took the amtrak train from Pittsburgh to DC and about half of the Capitol Limited train for Friday was there for the Saturday, Stewart Colbert Rally.

    I met more people in there 50’s and 60s going to the rally. And there was a group of 20 from california.

    The Metro set records on the highest amount of ridership for that day.

    Damn good, middle of the road time. Although it was confirmed by Father Guido Sarducci that God was not there…

  27. 27
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Who will be the first Democrat to state, on Wednesday, “Well, we were predicted to lose a lot more seats than this so I see the election as a net victory for the Democratic Party and president Obama,”?

  28. 28
    stuckinred says:

    “you people wouldn’t know crazy if it bit you on the ass”

    FBI From SAC Newark 5/10/68 :

    “It is believed that in attempting to expose, disrupt, and otherwise neutralize the activities of the “new left” by counterintelligence methods, the Bureau is faced with a rather unique task. Because, first, the “new left” is difficult to actually define; and second, of the complete disregard by “new left” members for moral and social laws and social amenities. It is believed that the nonconformism in dress and speech, neglect of personal cleanliness, use of obscenities (printed or uttered), publicized sexual promiscuity, experimenting with and the use of drugs, filthy clothes, shaggy hair, wearing of sandals, beads, and unusual jewelry tend to negate any attempt to hold these people up to ridicule. The American press has been doing this with no apparent effect or curtailment of “new left” activities.”

  29. 29
    Montysano says:

    We could put this thread in abeyance until tomorrow, because by tomorrow night we’ll know for sure whether Jon is right or not. If the Sharon Angles and Joe Millers win, then I’m afraid Jon is wrong.

    My favorite sign from the rally: “Hyperbole is the greatest threat of all time!!”

  30. 30
    patrick says:

    And I don’t buy the “most people don’t identify as …” pap. Most people I know, especially those in the lower middle/working class are more than happy to bitch about liberals taxing and spending to help all negroes, mexicans, and fags without so much as blinking an eye. None of them think that the GOP is responsible for a sliver of the rough shape America is in these days. And I live in NY. The working class is being fucked over by capitalists and they’re blaming the democrats. Most of these guys were the reliable union vote 30 years ago. The capitalists exported the jobs and then blamed the unions for relocating industry. Obama was right when he said people cling to god and guns when they’re scared.

    I’ve seen the same thing here in MI….

  31. 31
    cmorenc says:

    I would love to have gone to the Stewart/Colbert rally last weekend, but alas my daughter’s final (senior year) college varsity cross-country meet took precedence.

  32. 32
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Montysano:

    My favorite sign from the rally: “Hyperbole is the greatest threat of all time!!”

    Wingnut reply: “Ya’ mean Iran is building a hyperbole?”

  33. 33
    terraformer says:

    Some of the signs at the rally (e.g., “hitler is hitler” ; “atheists for masturbation”) were funny as hell. I’d bet many tetards who saw them just didn’t understand or recognize what they were trying to say–that they were poking fun at all the rhetoric from the right.

    That’s another sad reality – that there are lots of people who for whatever reason just don’t get it. They looked at signs in confusion, assumed that they meant something that they wouldn’t like because of it, and subsequently chalked them up to “yet another instance of liberal book-learnin'”. And like so many things for those without a worldview, it hurt inside that they didn’t get it, another reason to lash out and hate. There is no mind more closed than a mind ridiculed.

  34. 34
    wonkie says:

    If the country isn’t insane how comme Angle is winning in Neveda? And that Club for Growth extremist is winning in Pennsylvannia and Rand paul who is off the scale nuts is winning in KEntucky. Annd thhat’s not even getting inot the yahoos and wackos that are winning in Congressional districts all over the country.

    People are voting for these shitheads.

    majorities are voting for them.

    Republicorp ahs put together a coalition of the selfish, the fearful, the haters, the congenitally stupid and the gullible and that’s a winning comvbination is a lot of areas.

  35. 35
    Nick says:

    @cleek:

    they were. at least where we were standing (at the far end of the official rally area – just in front of 7th St, about 2500ft from the stage).

    Which side of the Mall, North of South?

    I was standing about 100 feet in front of 7th St, on the North side of the Mall right where the dirt meets the grass. Directly next to the east wing of the National Gallery of Art East Building. There were people in the trees next to me.

  36. 36
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @wonkie:
    It’s a matter of praise or blame. While the right is incapable of doing anything praiseworthy, they are Jedi-fucking-masters at blame. They blame continuously, loudly, and unanimously and they never blame themselves.

  37. 37
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    How many people here watched “the West Wing” while it was on TV? When I see things like the sanity rally, I always think back to the episode where Lisa Edelstein’s prostitute character tells the staffers “You’re the good guys, you should act like it” in response to them going tit for tat against a particularly nasty Republican senator.

    I don’t think it’s that Democrats are so concerned with their image as that the general public has a double standard for behavior between Democrats and Republicans. It’s a classic codependent relationship–the public likes the self-righteousness and jingoism of the Republicans even as they decry their assholishness. Periodically, the public realizes that behavior is bad for it, so they elect Democrats

    /cynicism

  38. 38
    AB says:

    I’m disappointed. I didn’t see even one citation needed sign in any of the photo slideshows of the rally :(.

  39. 39
    Mowgli says:

    @fucen tarmal: You’re wrong there based on my first-hand experiences. My wife and I came from Atlanta, three friends of ours drove from New York and the people standing next to us trying to get on the (overloaded) metro train were from South Carolina and Georgia.

  40. 40
    jfxgillis says:

    Erik:

    Thanks for the props and the links!

    Also, you have excellent taste in sentences. The one you quoted was my favorite.

  41. 41
    lou says:

    @fucen tarmal: All I can tell you is we had relatives come and crash at our house for the rally and just about every one I know in DC area had house crashers that weekend. And my company had a hard time booking hotel rooms for a meeting it was holding Saturday because of the rally — hotels across the area were sold out.

    Another comparison: I live a mile from the Mall. On the day of the Beck rally, I called my mother on my cell phone, no problems. Saturday, tried to reach friends on the mall and couldn’t get a text through for an hour, let alone a phone call. At the end of the rally, some poor elderly woman who came with friends lost them and couldn’t reach them by her cell phone so she tried my husband’s to no success.

    There also were so many people they couldn’t fit on the mall. The cross streets surrounding the mall were impossible to get through. People were sitting on the steps of the National Gallery of Art, the National History Museum, the Air and Space Museum and completely jammed into Madison and Jefferson Drives, which run parallel to the Mall.

    My favorite thing, as I was trying to navigate 7th St, which was a strangehold for the crowds, people were pushing — they couldn’t help it. And everyone was apologizing for pushing.

    other people ended up leaving because it was so packed.

    The ridership on the Metro was 850,000 — 500,000 more than typical this time of year. so if you figure most people used the Metro twice, that’s a minimum of 250,000 people more than usual on the metro. For Glen Beck’s rally, it was 180,000 rides more, or roughly 90,000 people.

  42. 42
    John Bird says:

    Indeed, for most Americans who don’t obsessively watch cable TV or read political blogs, the terms ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ are rarely even spoken or thought about all that much. Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is, or the first thing about actual policy decisions, or who to blame for the bad ones . . .

    All populism aside, this is a Very Bad Thing, as you noted.

    I just wanted to agree.

    What people do need to realize is that this usually translates into a regional or local default position on the left or right. Apathy may not vote but it is still part of a political climate, and most people in polls will come down closer to the Democrats or Republicans whether or not they ‘care’ about politics.

  43. 43
    jfxgillis says:

    @AB:

    I’m disappointed. I didn’t see even one citation needed sign in any of the photo slideshows of the rally :(.

    AHAH!!!! That was one of the few I took a picture of:

    http://jfxgillis.newsvine.com/.....rowd-photo

  44. 44

    “Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is, ”

    That makes me sad because that means nobody understood my sign then.

    http://sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hp.....3071_n.jpg

  45. 45
    TaosJohn says:

    I’m delighted to see all those folks come out for the rally. I’m appalled that no “real” political leaders were involved, however, and I thought a lot of the schtick that I saw (interrupting musicians, etc.) was embarrassing and pathetic. I would also so much rather see that many people completely shutting down a city, not just out for a lark.

    THAT SAID, well done. :-)

    As for the election tomorrow, it’s also the Day of the Dead, so I’m voting for Truman. When the only good Democrat around is a dead one, you know we’re in trouble, but at least I’ll feel better.

  46. 46
    John Bird says:

    @Suck It Up!:

    Wow, transcript says this piece outright accuses Obama’s 2008 campaign of receiving funding from Hamas.

  47. 47
    John Bird says:

    Y’all seen the cover of this BROKE book with Glenn Beck on the cover in a T-shirt and turned-out pockets looking all frowny?

    Guy’s got no shame, has he? You’re broke, says Glenn Beck, and I play a broke guy on the cover of my book, so you know your money’s well-spent.

  48. 48
    Steeplejack says:

    __

    All I know is that the rally looks like it was a lot of fun.

    The rally was a lot of fun (I was there), and it didn’t feel like it was about “drowning in bleakness” together. The vibe was very light and breezy–no angst at all. To me it felt like “normal” people seizing a moment to come out into the sun and issue a (polite but mocking) “fuck you” to the Teatards and Republicans and the mainstream media’s embrace of their narrative. Hence all the “ironic” signs at the rally.

    It did my heart good to see that I’m not just some obsessive, Cheeto-dusted rum-sodden reader of obscure, “inside baseball” political blogs but the “normal” person I always thought I was, who somehow had a Rip van Winkle moment while the country apparently slid to the right without me. Maybe it isn’t that the country has slid to the right so much as that the dominant narrative has. And now reasonable people are starting to realize, like the frog in the slowly simmering water, “Hey, I’m boiling here!”

    It was a great show, and a great show of force.

  49. 49
    artem1s says:

    @ChrisS:

    yes, normally I would agree that multiple polls tend to right about the percentages, however…

    if you go to pollster.com and drill down into the individual races, it has some interesting tools to remove the results of any one poll from the aggregate. my point is there are an astonishing amount of polls included from fairly unreliable sources such as “right to life” groups. I found over and over when these are removed the percentages shifted as much as 10-15%. Most of these polls seem to be the ones quoted early on to demonstrate that the GOP was rolling and unstoppable.

    somehow I’m thinking that the Fox polls were little more than push polls designed to produce a preordained result.

    this is where the corporate money may be more important than even the air time it can buy. If you can push poll 2 months before election to change the voter turn out what difference does it make how much money the other side can raise?

  50. 50
    ChrisS says:

    @Mike:
    Regardless of which was a larger crowd, Beck’s rally was first. I’m sure a not-insignificant portion Stewart and Colbert’s crowd were there to in some part to refute Beck’s crowd. But we can’t know.

  51. 51
    cleek says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    i just doubt in anyone “got on the bus” for it, but it probably was more of a local its-free-what-the-hell event…

    the five of us drove 5.5 hours, each way. rented a van, booked hotel rooms. spent a fucking fortune in food and drink. twasn’t a lark.

  52. 52
    Lurker from NC says:

    @fucen tarmal: Stepping out of the lurking for a moment to correct a small misunderstanding. We took the train up from NC just for the day – 6-1/2 hours each way. About 20 people got on at our stop – half our age (old) and half 20-somethings. We were in the gridlock around 7th Ave and were inadvertently intimate with several thousand people. We spoke to people from Indiana, California, Oregon, Florida, Georgia, etc. You may be right that most attendees were locals but I think you underestimate the numbers of us that made a special trip.

    For those of us living deep in Fox country, it was so refreshing to experience reasonableness, humor and courtesy despite the crowds.

  53. 53
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @New Yorker:

    This would be occurring whether Obama passed healthcare and finance reform or not.

    I see it largely your way, with one caveat: you’d think that a two-year period during which _more_ got done than normal ought to be rewarded by a _better_ performance for the majority party, and instead it’s shaping up to be a typical performance. That shortfall is worth analyzing.

  54. 54
    birthmarker says:

    @Violet: Who do you think owns the media? Refer to comment #16. I think media consolidation passed under Clinton is a big part of the problem. It has enabled the Reagan economic policy we are reeling under today.

  55. 55
    Lurked says:

    @FlipYrWhig:
    Actually, I think it was Stuck who noted that if a party in control gets a lot done then it can particularly enrage their opposition and motivate them to vote in the next election. Anger is a motivator, dishing out a reward is not a particularly strong motivator. Also Democratic-leaning demographic groups have historically voted in smaller proportions overall, but especially in midterms.

  56. 56
    Steeplejack says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    seems like the colbert/stewart show would be more popular, and socially acceptable, amongst people living in and around d.c.
    __
    i just doubt [. . .] anyone “got on the bus” for it, but it probably was more of a local its-free-what-the-hell event . . .

    Oh, hells no. There were a lot of people in from out of town. I had people in my extended social group calling all around trying to find spare beds or couches for people coming in from out of town, including some who tried to find a hotel and couldn’t. There was a lot going on in D.C. last weekend–the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday, some big horse show, etc.–but a lot of people came to town specifically for the rally.

    Anecdote substituting for data: My brother and I rode downtown Saturday on a packed subway car in the middle of a group of about 20 people who had all come together from North Carolina (“Keep the fear in Cape Fear–Tarheels for Panic”). There was a near riot when my brother told them not to get off the Orange Line train at Metro Center but to stay on with us and get off at the Smithsonian station. They had been told that they had to transfer to the Red Line and get off at some other stop. We finally convinced them that if they got off that train they would not see the inside of another train (on any line) until about three hours after the rally ended. Crisis averted.

  57. 57
    birthmarker says:

    @lou: Wow. Matches the unbiased estimates almost exactly!

  58. 58
    Bob L says:

    @Zifnab: typo I mean to say the “Democrats aren’t blameless”. Yes they drop the ball on a lot of crap.

  59. 59
    monkeyboy says:

    @stuckinred:

    FBI From SAC Newark 5/10/68 : … any attempt to hold these people up to ridicule.The American press has been doing this with no apparent effect or curtailment of “new left” activities.

    The “ridicule” didn’t much affect the “new left”, though the notion of DFHs, who also spit, seems to be entrenched in the modern collective consciousness.

    I’ve noticed in current best seller type literature when a bad-guy group is needed old DFHs often fill that roll even though more modern groups such as anti-abortion activists or white power militias would work just as well. I guess gratuitous hippie bashing is still considered safe and unobjectionable. Sue Grafton’s latest novel is full of hippies without a sane one among them.

  60. 60
    jfxgillis says:

    @Steeplejack:

    It did my heart good to see that I’m not just some obsessive, Cheeto-dusted rum-sodden reader of obscure, “inside baseball” political blogs but the “normal” person I always thought I was, who somehow had a Rip van Winkle moment while the country apparently slid to the right without me.

    Precisely the sentiment I was trying to capture. If you have friends or family who are Beckian, or read the Beckoids’ grass-roots threads carefully (as opposed to the Astroturfed propaganda), you’ll see that that same emotional register was very powerful, maybe even dominant among rally-goers.

  61. 61
    Mike says:

    @ChrisS:
    That backs up my belief that there was a competitive element to the Sanity rally.

  62. 62
    cleek says:

    @Mike:
    does the Obama inauguration count in this ? or the MLK speech – especially given the date and location ?

    if this weekend’s rally is a response to Beck, isn’t Beck a response to those ?

  63. 63
    Stillwater says:

    …any attempt to hold these people up to ridicule.The American press has been doing this with no apparent effect or curtailment of “new left” activities.

    I have questions: Why would a fact-based, market-driven, unbiased free press be engaged in social engineering? Also, why does the FBI act as if such social engineering is entirely unremarkable? Could it be that a primary function of the media in the US is to inculcate certain preferred values ….

    No. HELL no. That’s crazy talk.

  64. 64
    FFrank says:

    Mike there was a little competitiveness, but we knew we were going to be entertained and while not given bread, the circus was damn amazing.

    The level of politeness was tremendous on the metro, it took us three metro trains before we could even get on because they were so packed.

    I’m kinda sad because my friends from Burning man brought their bus-dragon abraxas (google it using google images) but it got a flat but they still had a couple thousand people see it.

  65. 65
    Nick says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason:

    “You’re the good guys, you should act like it”

    I think this is key to why people like Alan Grayson and Jack Conway are going down for using tactics that Republicans have won for. People don’t like it when Democrats fight dirty, which is why they don’t and that leaves them open to get blasted negatively.

    Look at the responses from Conway’s ad. DailyKos loved it, every other liberal-leaning blog decried it.

  66. 66
    slag says:

    @Steve:

    I don’t think this necessarily results in the mainstreaming of crazy views

    I strenuously beg to differ. I’ve seen the crazification that can happen over the years first-hand. I’ve watched people, who were originally relatively sane, devolve slowly (after years of watching Faux News) into Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim crazy. It’s a sad thing to watch.

    Part of it is the paranoia induced by the aging process itself, I believe, but the velocity of that paranoia is directly influenced by the media these people consume. It is indeed a form of brainwashing. And if we consider “mainstreaming” to mean “affecting those who would–in other circumstances–not be so affected”, then yes, it is mainstreaming crazy views. Slowly and surely.

    I attended a satellite Rally to Restore Sanity and likened the impact it had on me to when Obama went to the Republican caucus for a “discussion”. It was impressive. And like that Q&A between Obama and his Republican colleagues, the Rally to Restore Sanity will be completely disregarded by those who need its influence the most.

    Inertia is a harsh mistress.

  67. 67
    El Cid says:

    @slag: It’s a form of brainwashing, no doubt, but I think it also reflects the absence of any notion that the news and commentary sources which appeal to them need to be put under scrutiny, or whether their reflexive ‘folk’ skepticism might not be enough — given that they simply will not spend a moment searching to see if the ‘facts’ they’re handed really describe the situation.

  68. 68
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    @John S.:

    They refuse to believe they are a minority group. They will learn differently in due time.

  69. 69
    MBunge says:

    @The Main Gauche of Mild Reason: “I always think back to the episode where Lisa Edelstein’s prostitute character”

    That Sorkin tried to argue that a White House staffer consorting with a prostitute is not a big deal should have been the first sign he was smokin’ mushrooms.

    Mike

  70. 70
    slag says:

    @El Cid: Agreed. Part of me thinks education, rather than media, should be our immune system. But our educational system has limits.

    If we, as Americans, don’t take pride in rationality and thoughtfulness, then knowing how to think rationally and critically does nothing for us. That’s one of the reasons I liked this rally. It was about taking pride in rational thought. It was about rejecting the notion that we should pride ourselves on being outrageous. Because in so many other areas of our culture, we’re taught that obnoxiousness is a virtue. And it’s not.

    However, I also think there’s a time for telling people to go fuck themselves. So, what do I know?

  71. 71
    Nick says:

    @slag: I too have seen this. I’ve lost friends in the last two years because our rather enjoyable debates we had during the Bush years turned into threats of violence.

    I think we’re really doing ourselves a disservice by not recognizing how large the crazy bloc is in this country. It may not be the majority, but it may be the majority that votes.

  72. 72
  73. 73
    Mike says:

    @cleek:
    Sure, yes, of course.
    I don’t know what you’re getting at with these questions.

    @FFrank:
    Replace the ‘but’ in your first sentence with ‘and’ and we’re in complete agreement.

  74. 74
    Triassic Sands says:

    …but the vast majority of craziness – as Stewart points out – takes place in D.C. and on cable TV.

    You are badly misreading the insanity.

    Actually, most of the insanity takes places in the voting booth (figuratively, if not literally, since many now vote by mail-in ballot) and that is nationwide. It is this insanity that makes the sanity in DC and on cable possible.

  75. 75
    cleek says:

    @Mike:

    Sure, yes, of course.
    I don’t know what you’re getting at with these questions.

    just making sure.

  76. 76
    cindy says:

    we drove from baltimore to the new carrollton metro station (farthest one out in our direction). pulled into the parking lot at about 11:45; there were lines about 5-6 people deep going from the metro station all the way out to the main street.

    decided to take a cab – the cabbies were competing with each other for flat rate, cash only rides to the mall. we paid $15 each along with 3 other people for a (crazy fast) cab ride to about 1 block from the mall. the dc cab drivers made a fortune (and $15 is not too bad for cab fare from the suburbs to the mall).

    walked to the mall amid thickening crowds. everybody was really nice and polite; there to have a good time. there were some 9/11 truthers, cp-usa people, and others handing out stuff at the outskirts of the rally; lots of funny signs, people dressed up as all kinds of crazy things. when we finally got to where we could hear anything from the rally itself, the crowds were crushing – polite, but crushing. the crowd noise drowned out anything from the stage/speakers. some idiot had a small fluffy dog on a leash (on the GROUND!)* in that mess o’ people.

    we decided to try to find a bar that had a tv, but we were on the wrong side of the mall, according to the police (who were also very nice). we walked around a bit and decided to head home about 2:30 pm. as we walked towards the metro station, the opposite sidewalk was filled with people (again, about 5-6 people deep) still on their way from the metro to the mall.

    whatever the crowd estimates, they have to be understated because of all the people who tried to get there and gave up b/c there was no way they were getting there. the organizers were really unprepared for the number of people that showed up – there should have been screens or at the very least, speakers, all down the mall. i don’t know if their permit (for 60K) didn’t allow more equipment, if it was comedy central’s call or the park police’s, but there were a lot of people who wanted to hear what was being said, sung, etc., who had to give up.

    but i’m glad i went anyway.

    eta: the dog, not the leash, was on the ground.

  77. 77
    Mike says:

    @cleek:

    just making sure.

    Making sure of what?

  78. 78
    Bailey says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    Well, I was there–got there damn early at 6:00am to get an excellent spot as near the stage as possible–and I can tell you that everyone around me made quite the trek to get there. I came from Seattle and met up with friends from LA and NYC. There were tons of West Coasters around us, including a 60 year old woman who flew in–by herself–from Hawaii. It wasn’t just ironic D.C. people by a long shot.

  79. 79
    Hogan says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    i just doubt in anyone “got on the bus” for it

    Obviously you were nowhere near Union Station for at least four hours after the rally, or on I-95 going north from DC.

  80. 80
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @fucen tarmal: 10,000 people got on the Huffington Post buses from New York for the rally. At the rally, my friend and I stood next to some Canadians who came down in two buses from Toronto. I was there from California (granted I was already in DC for business and probably wouldn’t have flown down just for the rally). I spoke to a woman from Arizona with a really cool sign. Only one of my DC friends would attend the rally – the others had overcrowded mall fatigue and preferred to watch the Comedy Central video feed from home. The Metro was insane. A friend told me that Amtrak was packed with people coming from out of town for the rally.

  81. 81
    debbie says:

    @ peter j

    While it’s debatable whether liberals are thicker around the waist than conservatives, you must allow for the fact that many of Beck’s followers attended his rally riding their Medicare-provided scooters. I’d say the extra bulk fluffed up their numbers a bit.

  82. 82
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    First, here’s an image of the rally compared to Beck’s rally earlier this year via airphotoslive.com

    Link please?

    Thx.

  83. 83
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    @birthmarker:

    True.

    Compare the Airphotoslive hi-def aerial shots posted at Photosynth. You can actually zoom in and count each person.

    Stewart Rally

    Beck Rally

    It’s amazing how much empty space there is right in the middle of the Beck Fest.

  84. 84
    Zuzu's Petals says:

    Actually, I just noticed that that graphic at the top shows too small a space for the Stewart rally.

    The graphic shows the crowd in the middle stopping at the end of the Air and Space Museum. When the pictures show it clearly went past the Hirschorn (circular building) and at least up to the Smithsonian Castle.

  85. 85
    mnpundit says:

    The real failing of the rally was that apparently he didn’t ask people to vote. Not even vote for X or Y but simply go out and vote and tell people you know to vote.

    That’s a real missed opportunity and a reminder that whatever their personal feelings, Stewart and Colbert are of limited use politically–and that’s what matters.

  86. 86
    E.D. Kain says:

    @jfxgillis: Everyone tells me that. And it was a very good sentence.

  87. 87

    by the straw poll on ballon juice, i stand corrected.

  88. 88
    Ed Heffernan says:

    @fucen tarmal:

    I’m 66, my wife is 62, from far Lower Alabama. We drove a day to a daughter near Atlanta, caught a chartered rally bus there, and rode overnight to the rally, spent 8 hrs, and got back on the bus to do it in reverse. Got home a couple hours ago.

  89. 89
    Ben says:

    @Peter J: I realize you’re just a troll, Peter J, but I was about the make just the opposite point. You see, I live inside the dreaded Beltway, and so I got to witness both crowds first-hand. No question about it, the Beck crowd was by far the fatter. My guess is that you could fit on average 1.3 of the Stewart/Colbert attendees inside the physical space occupied by each of the Beck attendees.

    Moreover, you have to consider that the personal space needs of the teabaggers are greater than a normal sentient human’s. No doubt this is because deep down, teabaggers are really just misanthropic losers. Judging from what I saw first-hand, I think you need to add about a 6-inch radius around the already larger circumference of a teabagger to really get a sense of how much space they occupy. (And this doesn’t really consider the space needs of the teabaggers’ concealed weapons.)

    Conversely, many of the Stewart/Colbert attendees were attractive, literally and figuratively. Based on my observation, I’d say that the average personal space used by most people in the rectangle bounded by 3rd and 7th Streets, and by Madison and Jefferson Drives, was essentially nil.

    So overall, I think each square meter of the Stewart/Colbert rally had about 1.7 times as many people as each square meter of the Beck rally.

  90. 90
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Zuzu’s Petals: I would say. We were in the center green section alongside the circular building (Hirschhorn), which is not colored in on the chart and it was definitely full. The large green center section even farther from the stage also filled by 2pm. It possibly filled even farther back. We could only hear when the wind favored it. I don’t think those people heard a thing, but they were having a great time. Planning the event around halloween was a great benefit to the statement humor.

  91. 91
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @Bailey: We had lots of opportunity to get to know our fellow sardines on the metro. None of them were from DC. There was France, Ohio, Montreal, and New York in our sample.

  92. 92
    Kyle says:

    @Ben:

    each square meter of the Stewart/Colbert rally had about 1.7 times as many people as each square meter of the Beck rally.

    The morbidly obese, scooter-bound, antisocial and body-odor-challenged Beck droolers naturally require more personal space.

  93. 93
    Bedbugsandballyhoo says:

    I was at the rally. We took the redline in at 7AM and it really wasn’t *that* bad. The ticket lines were long, the trains were packed, but everyone was very civil to each other. People were actually talking to each other, even complete strangers. *gasp* Most of the time people on the metro are just trying to block everyone else out.
    When we got to the rally, it was more of the same. In fact, everyone was a little too polite and accommodating. When the rally ended, the sea of humanity moved from the mall and into the streets creating huge people traffic jams. (We were then informed by the people on top of the port-a-potties that the mall was completely clear and we had a straight shot out… if we could make it back over.)

    My favourite sign from the rally:

    Barrack Who’s Sane Obama

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