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« The Great American Labor Squeeze (updated) | Main | Obama’s Legacy Grows »

28 August 2009


Russ Steele


Thanks for your report. When we stopped for the day in Astoria OR, we checked the Sacramento News on our laptops. There was not one peep about the Tea Party gathering on the station web sites.

When a cat in a tree is news and 2,500 people on the Capitol steps with tractors and big rigs ringing the block is not news, one has to wonder what other news the press is not reporting.

I was rooting for a larger crowd. Time for a little introspective analysis by the Tea Party organizers. Why the turn out was less than the first Tea Party in Sacramento.

Steve Enos

George, "In the days leading up to this event we were told that the participants would number in the thirty to fifty thousand range".

You estimated 2,500, CHP put the official estimate at 2,000.

Do the Tea Party leaders have a response to this low turnout considering they where claiming in advance that a massive wave of Tea Party folks would flood Sacramento?

What happned to their massive flood? What does this reflect? Has the Tea Party enjoyed their 15 minutes of fame?

George Rebane

Why so few attended needs to be discovered by the leadership of the Tea Party movement. And therein lies the problem, contrary to the left’s claims, the movement is not sponsored or organized by some strong central leadership. It is distributed across the country to a fare-thee-well, and perhaps this is also its saving grace. Most certainly there is no hint of any corporate partnership – I’ve been waiting for my participation payola check for over six months now. To get an idea of the number and diversity of today’s ‘tea party like’ organizations in the country, go to their website and look at the bottom of their home page.

But are their “15 minutes of fame” over? I doubt it. The public outrage is genuine, and as long as the local tea party organizations can cohere and unify that outrage, the local tea parties will survive. Now will they become a coherent national political force, that is the question that begs an answer. And that answer is needed sooner than later as its first effort – The Tea Party Express - to present the tea parties as a unified national voice has stumbled off the starting blocks in Sacramento. In the final analysis, one must remember it is the endless effluent of Obama’s administration and Congress that fuels and intensifies these fractionated, widely dispersed, and disorganized groups. And that probably is the basis of the tea parties’ continued existence.

Steve Enos

Russ posts, "Time for a little introspective analysis by the Tea Party organizers. Why the turn out was less than the first Tea Party in Sacramento".

George, you and Russ like to post graphs on your websites that show things going up or down, or flat, etc., etc. Then you make comments and provide your thoughts on what they mean, things like what a poll might claim to show about how some folks might feel now about our new President vs. six months ago.

So if we track and graph the attendance of the Sacramento Tea Party gatherings since the first, what does that graph show? What does the downward line mean?

Can I say it's an indication that people have been leaving the Tea Party fold? Can I say that the Tea Party effort is deminishing? Can I say that this shows people are leaving the effort? After all the data shows a strong downward path.

If a poll shows a drop in the approval rating of our new President from six months ago to today claims are make about our President now being rejected by the people. So can I apply the same rational to the downward trend line of the Tea Party supporters at the events?

Does the Tea Party pre-event boasts of "thirty to fifty thousand" vs. the 2,000 to 2,500 that attended mean the Tea Party over hiped and inflated their claims in advance of the event?

Does it mean the Tea Party leaders that made these advance boasts lied, or do they just lack the ability to factualy understand their condition, capacity and support? Actions speak louder than words and the real numbers speak for themselves. Data is data, right?

If this was some lib, eco loving, commie group that made these advance claims and then only delivered less than 5% of what they claimed what would you say about that? Seems attendance missed by 95% on the top end of their estimated projections.

What does the data show?

George Rebane

All good questions Steve. The answers in general depend on the intrinsic nature of the process of interest (here membership and event attendance dynamics for tea parties), and the sampling procedure to extract data about these items. Both have important and arcane technical aspects that eliminate simple answers, especially to the layman - hence all the rigamarole that we always hear about polls.

But to draw broad conclusions from two data points from the attendance at two local events would be a stretch. The Sacramento attendance trend is definitely down. But what causal factors can explain this, beyond concluding that local tea party membership is down, is hard to tell from such samples (whether such groups be liberal or conservative).

Most certainly the event was over-hyped, as I sadly noted, and the size of error says more about the ignorance of the promoters than it does about any other factors related to the tea party movement.

Finally, we know that public opinion is a highly volatile process. But presidential opinion polling is at least done in technically correct ways by the professional pollsters. Opinion trends over longer periods lend some credibility to a sustainable public sentiment - but as they say, in politics a week is an eternity. Organization membership (vs attendance at functions) decisions belong to a class of more sedate processes. And for people with some critical thinking skills, changing tenets in their belief systems is an even slower process. So taking two points about event attendance 1) does not establish a reliable trend, 2) does not give enough data to conclude membership dynamics, and 3) most certainly does not allow us to conclude anything about the members' changing sentiments for becoming a member in a local tea party or any other organization. More reliable data is needed before I start making any bets.

Mikey McD

A number of reasons why the huge #'s were not reached in Sac.
1-work day/school day (kids to be picked up, etc)
2-Large estimate scared many away (parking issues, etc)
3-Cap n Tax and Universal health care are shelved (measure 1A defeated!!!) What dragon to slay while D.C. is on vacation?
4-threats that ACORN, SEIU or Pink ladies were going to attack tea party
5-bad press for past tea party events and media's negative stigma regarding tea party protesters
6-explosive growth of movement overtook leadership and infrastructure

Russ Steele


I thought about one, but the last Tea Party was on a weekday with kids in school. Number two would give me second thoughts unless I was bussed in. Were there enough busses to bering in 50,000 people? As for number three we have the critical issues in California of AB32 and Ag water. I do not think that these issues were given enough press coverage. Hard to get the word out when the media will not cooperate. Item number four, my guess is that Democrats got e-mails warning them about Tea Party Violence. Number five was a major contributor to the low turn out, combined with 3 above. The Tea Party is trying to stay leaderless, but someone has to be in charge, else it is just a mob with no concrete goals. Now we get to number 7. We got into the position we are in by voter apathy, let some one else take care of the problem. With out a strong leader and some way to effectively communicate to the people what is at stake, if they remain apathetic, then the Tea Party movement will fade away. I think the community organizers know that it takes leadership to move people to action, and a leaderless group will fade away. Everyone cannot be in charge, that just produces a confused mob, and the disillusioned go home.

Steve Enos

8. Dog ate my homework.
9. Check is in the mail.
10. Fox News didn't drive it this time.


There was also a rather large yard sale being thrown by Arnold Schwarzennegar.
Plenty of publicity for that.


I took some pictures emphasizing the "no cap & trade" aspect.

Could you recommend a webhost where I can post them?

George Rebane

Papertiger, if you write a couple of paragraphs expanding your take on the pictures you took, I would be glad to publish your piece with the pictures. I'm sure RR readers would appreciate another view. But I would want you to do this over your own name.

Else you can always open your own FaceBook account and post anything you want. And I think there are also various sites like FanFare dedicated to showing just pictures.


George that's a generous offer.

There is one thing I'd like to talk about, regarding the San Joaquin farmers and the ridiculous amounts of water allocated to save the "precious" delta. Makes me want to puke how the state refers to it as an eco-jewel all of a sudden.
Think I'll take up on it.

Courtney McDaniel


So I'm a casual reader of Ruminations and thought I might share my take on an interesting evening:

I attended the Tom McClintock town hall meeting this evening in Granite Bay. It was a sight to behold. There were lots of people with their proverbial pitchforks, ready to impale one another. I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of apathy on behalf of the "Right" and was "ruminating" on it this evening. I was disturbed by the number of people blaming insurance companies for their problems, and then expecting the government to further regulate (read: punish) those companies, yet at the same time demanding choice in health plans. Is that wanting to eat the cake, too?
I wonder if the people will come to realize that the people are the biggest part of the problem. I believe we possess the ability to turn the socialist tide, (and to "regulate" our health care ourselves) but I wonder if we possess the desire. As I sat in a gymnasium filled to the brim with thousands of angry people, I wondered, we can pile into these meetings and attend these rallies, but do they actually accomplish anything? I hope the outrage continues to boil as we approach the next cycle of elections. I'm beginning to think it's the only place to take back the word "change".

C McD,
like Mikey McD, but different

Russ Steele


We saw some of the rally on TV (CH-13) and the only clip was of a pro-ObamaCare person roasting McClintock. Was there more pro-ObamaCare people or more anti-ObamaCare people at the rally? Was health care the only issue for the angry people or were there other issues?

Jim Mayeau

The San Joaquin contingent were pretty desperate. They have a stylized website - - with plenty of hoots and whistles making it slow and cumbersome to load, so be patient. Kind of shows they're new to blogging, and what makes it work.

When I visited their booth at the rally I got the feeling they didn't know whether to attack, retreat, or stand their ground. Very demoralized.
This sign is illustrative. It's an attack on Sacramento sewage treatment.
I can't see how it would help their situation even if the Sac sewers were perfect.
Their battle is against the environmentalists, and the enviros at least the ones I have dealt with are impervious to fixes, compromises, or even reality.
Even if Sac discharge were zero that wouldn't sway the Federal Court to lift their order and turn on the pumps.

The farmers totally skipped using thier real strength, the pathos of proud working men standing in soup lines, or the heart wrenching story of whole towns drying up and dying, the stories in my opinion that they needed to tell to get the pumps turned back on.

Wondering why they would take such an oblique tack, I googled up the Delta Smelt page at the Dept of Fish and Game.

Jim Mayeau

The DOFandG has a list of threats to the smelt in decreasing order of importance, they include:

reductions in outflow from the Estuary,

entrainment to water diversions,

extremely high outflow,

changes in food organisms,

toxic substances,

disease, competition, and predation,

loss of genetic integrity by hybridization with the introduced wakasagi.

According to the DOFandG the only thing more deadly to smelt then turning on the irrigation pumps, is saving back some water at the dams/lowering the discharge rate of the Sacramento River.

I see a glaring error in that list. Our little fish, which lives in the brackish waters of Suisun Bay, apparently can't survive if the water is too high, or too low.
We are dealing with Goldielocks the fish.
I don't believe in fairy tales, especially ones told by people out to save the world.
There is no way you can tell me that before Sacramento was built the river didn't have extra wet years and extra dry years that this nasty little bugger lived through.

Another thing is that name I highlighted above, wakasagi.
What is it?

The wakasagi is another fish which lives in the same place, eats the same things, and is practically identical to the Delta Smelt.
The only difference being the wakasagi is a non-native species introduced as a food source for Salmon in 1959.

Exit question - why would the DOF&G need to plant the Delta with bait fish from Japan to feed salmon back in 1959, with the delta smelt already here?

Jim Mayeau

Here is a history of the central valley water project.

That's all I wanted to say.

Jim Mayeau

One other thing.

Here is a link to the full set of photos from the Sac Tea Party.

George Rebane

Good stuff that fills out the picture. Thanks Jim Mayeau.

Courtney McDaniel


As it is Placer county, most of the people at the town hall meeting were vehemently against the Obamacare package. In the hour and a half that I was there, I believe there were only two or three questions focused on topics other than healthcare. I have to say that McClintock should be commended for striving to be fair in making sure that all sides were heard. He also tried his best to quell the booing and hissing.
Hopefully you can make the Nevada County town hall on Friday evening. The experience was worth the price of admission, if for nothing else!

Russ Steele


Thanks for the report. We will not be at the Town Hall, as one of our daughters and her husband are moving to Seattle and they will be coming on Friday night to stay with us for two nights before leaving for Washington. The Town Hall is going to be broadcast on KNCO and we are planning to record it for playback later. I know that George and JoAnn are planning to attend, and we should get a great report with pictures.

Russ Steele


The Sacramento River flow has been reconstructed from tree ring growth based on moisture levels, which were then translated to flow, going back to 903. Here is a plot showing major droughts, but you can also see when the flow was above average. I have some more detailed plots if you would like to make a case for excess flow years.

Jim Mayeau


That would work pretty good as an undertone for the San Joaquin farmers case.
Discrediting the high and low water flow from DOF&G's list of harms might make a difference for the Judge.

I still think their best shot is taking the case of the harms caused to cities like Mendota, weighed against the spotty possible benefits for a bait fish, before a higher court.
The court of public opinion is what I mean.

Regardless of that, in the regular court, 85% Hispanic Mendota might have a friend in Sotomayor.
Kind of curious about that.

Jim Mayeau

I keep hearing "third year of drought", but at the water resource dept, snow page;

The results of the media snow course measurement today (02/28/08):
Phillips Station depth is 86.1," water content 33.7." 136 percent of long-term average.

Results of today's snow survey by DWR show Sierra snowpack conditions at 118 percent of normal for this time of year. While this would normally be a positive indication that the state's water supply is in good shape, DWR also announced that it will need to further reduce Delta pumping starting today to comply with a federal court order limiting water exports. (02/28/2008)

What do we do when the dot gov's are running a recuring conjob on us?
You know and I know that the piddling bit of rain that falls in the valley doesn't amount to a hill of beans. It's the snow pack that counts. And the Water Dept. has the snow pack above normal for 2008.
So what's the BS about 3 years of drought?

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