Politics: 31 August 2010

You may have noticed that I have changed the format of this blog. This is due to the fact that most of what is happening on a day to day basis really isn’t that interesting or important. I have only two things to talk about today. The first is tragic but fascinating—even funny. The second is a round up of my flame war over at NewsOpi. I’m rather proud of my sarcasm, so I hope you will read it and enjoy.

Death to Environmentalists!

A 29-year-old electric motorcycle designer, Matthew Dieckmann, was killed on one of his no-emision bikes yesterday—by a man in a Toyota Prius. Get that: two environmentally friendly vehicles collided. This is sad, but ironic. That’s not the whole story, however. Three years earlier, Dieckmann’s mother—an avid bicyclist—was killed less than a mile from where her son died. A recycling truck colided with her on her bike. So we have four groups—all trying to do right by the environment—a mother and son. This is so sad, but in a sense, inspiring. Maybe it is an indication that more people are living lives of lower impact. And it is at least nice that both of the victims died doing what they loved and were passionate about. Read Julie Johnson’s Press Democrat story about it; it has some nice details I didn’t include.

Flame War!

I shouldn’t be doing this, but it is highly addictive. As I reported before, NewsOpi ran a story about the attendance at the Glenn Beck rally. Here are some more of my exchanges:

Kelly Kuhn on August 28, 2010 at 4:40 pm:

Okay, I have no idea who you are but your early numbers are so pathetic. I have attended dozens of organized events in Washington DC over the last three decades. This is clearly the largest gathering of people I have ever witnessed. We arrived at the Lincoln Memorial at 5:15 this morning and there were already tens of thousands of people, peacefully awaiting the event.

By the time the event started at 10 AM there were easily over 500,000 people and by my humble guess, judging on the amount of people in front of the Memorial, clear down to the Washington Monument, would be somewhere between 650,000 and 750,000 people.

The event was a celebration of America’s past and a prayer for future leaders to emerge to continue what the founders started in the mid to late 100’s. The entire event will be on CSPAN tomorrow and I hope that many more can watch the event and judge for themselves the message that Glenn Beck and his guests were delivering.

God Bless America!

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Again and again and again and again! “There were already tens of thousands of people”! “There were easily over 500,000 people”! “Somewhere between 650,000 and 750,000 people”! You are just guessing–not even estimating. I dare say that based upon what you wrote you have no clue how to make such estimates.

And about those tens of thousands of people, peacefully awaiting the event: really? I mean, I’m not saying they weren’t, but are you really able to monitor tens of thousands of people? Don’t you think you just might have missed some kid pulling his sister’s hair because she took his favorite Hot Wheels car? Or a young couple getting into a fight because he was checking out that cute chick with the low-cut tank top over near the reflecting pool? And are your powers of policing limited to tens of thousands? Can we assume that much murder and mayhem occurred when the crowd reached 650,000?

Finally, I don’t think people like Thomas Paine would be too thrilled with people praying that future leaders continue his very secular vision for this country.

Frank Moraes on August 28, 2010 at 5:55 pm

The number comes from CBS and is based upon aircraft photographs at the peak of the event. The error is +/- 9,000. It is easy to over-estimate crowds from inside. Compare the pictures of today with those of 1963. You will see that there were more people then. There were over 200,000 people at that rally. Thus, today’s rally must be somewhat less. 87,000 sounds about right.

Allan on August 28, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Interesting that you did more research than the author of this article or he just neglected to site his sources.

Frank Moraes on August 29, 2010 at 11:28 am

The 87,000 number comes from CBS as I stated. I doubt that if Aidama Jaber had mentioned this that there would have been any change in the reaction. People would have just said, “Oh, that’s just the liberal media.” People seem to have some kind of emotional stake in the size of the rally. It really doesn’t matter. Glenn Beck has a lot of listeners and viewers. But he isn’t the Messiah and yesterday was not the Sermon on the Mount.

J on August 29, 2010 at 6:04 pm

check this pic out. way more than 87,000. the areas unde trees were completely full too so its even more people than u can see. also this is only in front of the WWII memorial, crowds were backed up past the washington monument. there was even more crowd density under the trees because you couldnt walk anywhere under them, once you got a spot under the trees you werent going to find a way out until it was over. there were sooo many people, way more than 87,000, which would fill less than half of the reflecting pool

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 7:42 am

Thank you for a reasonable reply. I’ve seen that picture before. It is not of high enough resolution for me to make a very good estimate. But I have tried. Now don’t get all mad. Assuming that the density of people under the trees to be the same as out in the sun, the number is between 50,000 and 200,000. (This is not hard to do. Try it yourself and see what numbers you get. That would at least have some validity.)

I don’t have an ax to grind in this matter. I don’t like Beck; I think he is bad for the country. But I know he is very popular. If no one had shown up at the event, it would not have made me feel better; if a million people showed up, it would not have made me feel worse.

What does make me feel bad is the anti-scientific bias on most of the comments here. There is a lot of science I’m not real happy about. Quantum mechanics bugs me, for example. But after eight years of studying it, I don’t dismiss it because I feel like classical mechanics just seems right.

tom on August 30, 2010 at 11:07 am

I’ve been to stadiums that hold 60,000-80,000 people, races that were full and those amounts were dwarfed by what i saw at the rally. Oh, since the number comes from CBS it must be true. It’s also easy to under estimate crowds from a communist’s eyeballs. CBS+communist mindsetXnew math=87,000

But you’re a me-so-smart elitist, so I guess I’ll go with your math.

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 3:52 pm

You are correct: I am an intellectual elitist: a PhD physicist. The number did not come from CBS. They simply hired a company to make the estimate. Why didn’t Fox do the same? Perhaps because facts don’t much matter on their “news” programs?

I hope you will go with my math. Based upon your comment, I assume you are an ignorant ideologue. How could you possibly know that I have “communist’s eyeballs”–whatever that might mean?

Have you read Common Sense, Rights of Man, The Age of Reason, The Federalist Papers, or even The Constitution of the United States? My experience with people who going around shouting “communist” at people they don’t like is that they haven’t read any of them–that they know next to nothing about what really is great about this country.

There I go again with that “me-so-smart elitist” thinking thing.

Pat on August 29, 2010 at 8:24 am

Talk about egomaniacs. Most everyone posting in support of Beck is calm polite and excited. Those of you who were bamboozled by Barack Obama and his smooth talk seem to have something to prove and think that you are “smarter” than the teapartiers. Really you are not that bright and Beck has history on his side to prove the TRUTH of what he says, you liberals have history on your side as well only it puts the Lie to your foolish social policies. Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama have never been about equalness they are about Sharpton, Jackson, and Obama. People like that could never understand MLK’s dream of people doing right out of care for their fellow man, considering they do things soley based on greed.

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 8:16 am

So let me get this straight: what you just wrote is calm and polite? It is offensive. It is off-topic. It is historically inaccurate.

Are repeated comments about liberals being from Cuba calm and polite? Are repeated attacks on Obama calm and polite? Is it calm and polite to respect the President–as long as he isn’t Obama?

No one on this page has countered anything I’ve written. I assume because there is no debate. But getting over 30 thumbs-down for a comment that simply cited the source for the 87,000 number does not indicate that people are being calm and polite to me.

I already posted this one, but “tom” responded, so I thought I would provide the whole exchange.

Frank Moraes on August 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

I notice that my very reasonable and factual post was hidden because I received a 6/32 rating. I take this to mean that no one had any problem with what I wrote, but simply with the fact that I relating information that the readers of this page did not want to hear. If people wish to live in an echo chamber where facts are the enemy, nothing can be done.

People do not vote on the quality of comments; they vote on whether they agree with what is said. This is madness and is why I do not allow “ratings” on my site (franklycurious.com or Frankly Curious). Unpopular comments add to the discussion. On this page, we see the same idea over and over: the rally was HUGE. Well it was huge; 87,000 is a large number of people. Why is it necessary to claim more?

I find almost all of the posts here fall into one of two categories. First: there were hundreds of thousands of people at the rally. (Wrong.) Second: Glenn Beck rocks. (Opinion, but I’m willing to listen.) How many times do these ideas have to be repeated. We know (1) Glenn Beck was probably wrong when he claimed that there would be over 100,000 at the rally, and (2) that Glenn Beck has millions of fans.

Could we please discuss something interesting? Here’s an idea: how is it that Beck managed to attract less than 100,000 people to an event that was nightly advertised on cable TV over the course of months, while MLK attracted well over twice that number without the ad campaign when the US population was half what it is today?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

tom on August 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

Because it is not true Frank. They are not respectable and certianly are not to be believed. I was there, it was way more than that. Believe what you want, more Kool-Aid is on the way. I never compared the MLK to 8/28 and never will. Two different times, two different events. Both were “AMERICAN” though. At least in my eyes.

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:15 pm

There has been one scientific study of the size of the rally. It was performed by a legitimate company that has been doing this sort of thing for over ten years. All other “estimates” are simply people guessing. I am more than willing to change my opinion when some actual facts are brought up that conflict with the only facts we have. Your statement that you were there is meaningless. Were you in a position to see the majority of the crowd? Did you do a count of a small area and extrapolate? At least that would be a start–but even that would have an extremely high uncertainty. The 87,000 +/- 9,000 estimate is based on high-resolution photographs taken from balloons. These photographs where then independently analyzed by three experts. Given the choice between this methodology and your “Gee, there sure are a lot of people here” estimate, I’ll go with the former.

Isn’t it enough that a couple million people watch Glenn Beck on TV every day? He is hugely popular. Why do his followers always have to pretend that they are some kind of victims of some conspiracy? Poor Mr. Beck: those liberal meanies just won’t let him get his message out.

Big Rob on August 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

87,000 is laughable. There was a permit for 300,000 and it is known that X amount of people can fill a certain areas of the mall. The attendance was enough to meet the approximation of 300,000 AND THEN SOME.

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Based upon what? A group of scientists perform a test and you (and many others) dismiss it out of hand. Do you even know where the 87,000 figure comes from? Do you know what the error is on that number? Is “AND THEN SOME” the error on your “estimate”?

A 100 sq ft space can be filled with ten people. Or it can be filled with 100 people. I suggest you go back and look at the photographs of the MLK rally and see how little elbow room there was. (Answer: not much.) At Beck’s rally there was lots of elbow room. And the people were (how can put this gently) better fed.

Dan on August 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Well I guess someone has to believe Fox Network for entertainment purposes. After all the head of a Newscorp the parent of Fox comes from a socialist country (Australia) social medicine and so on. Also the largest common stock holder of New Corp is the Saudi Prince a Muslim. And I never hear mr beck bring that up to the listeners when he speaks of God, I didn’t hear him reach out to the other religions or discuss Allah? Did you? Tom?

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Since you are about the only reasonable person around here, Dan, I am curious why you are wasting your time with these fools. I ask because I cannot figure out why I am doing so. Almost every comment is, “I was at the rally and it was way bigger than 87,000.” Clearly, this is not a political discussion. This is religious. These people think that Glenn Beck is a prophet. I do not, of course. But there are things about him I admire. He is a seeker. Unfortunately, he is looking for knowledge in all the wrong places.

My question is sincere: why waste the time here? No one here is looking for knowledge. No one here is even listening.

LaNell Babbage-Torres on August 30, 2010 at 6:07 am

As a black American I can say yes I was there. Yes Iam a supporter of Glenn Beck. Again as stated on my facebook page, the Dream is for everyone! Dr. King died for theDream that the Constitution established by our founding fathers. The Tea Paty is the new Civil Rights movement! Glenn is calling Americans back to it’s beginings.
Back to the Bible and back to Honor that Dr. King stood for, that the founding fathers outlined for us all!!!
LaNell Babbage-Torres

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Most of the people Glenn Beck follows hated MLK. If Glenn Beck had been an adult during the voting rights movement, he would have been against it. Just because you are black does not mean that you know anything about MLK, Glenn Beck, or the movement. Ignorance comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

Check out wacko Cleon Skousen to learn everything you need to know about Glenn Beck…

Beck and King both have dreams–but they are not the same.

I think this one is very funny, but there is no accounting for taste.

Mary Westlie-Jones on August 30, 2010 at 11:56 am

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20 (NIV)

Frank Moraes on August 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm

“But 87,000 is right out!” -Monty Python

Bill on August 30, 2010 at 7:41 pm

God is with all of us…especially when we are alone.

What went on on the surface at Beckstock was great. Personal responsibily…charity..faith…all great stuff.

If you go a little deeper…all these wonderful things are being twisted in an attempt to form a mutated Far right domestic agenda which would leave the vast, vast majority of americans behind & betrays what the founding fathers wanted this country to be….it’s pyscho world…with the biggest psycho leading the way.

Do you know what MLK was doing in Memphis to begin with? He was marching and advocating for Mostly black UNIONIZED sanitation workers to get increases their wages. Sounds like social justice to me.

So many people who espouse to the gospel of Beck..Limbaugh and the like are being used like pawns in a chess game to vote republican so the Corporatocracy, which is our government, can be maintained and the massive redistribution of wealth.. (to the top 1%) can continue like it has for the last 30yrs….that’s what all this is about…creating the social issues to get folks terrified so they will vote in conservatives schills to keep corporate america in power over THE PEOPLE. Your right about one thing…our government is broken…but not for the reasons you think.


Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 12:05 am

I was wrong: Dan is not the only non-fool here.

Well put. You have summed up the conservative strategy perfectly.

Don’t you think it’s interesting how the really angry Tea Party people are generally well-off economically? Shouldn’t it be the poor who are really angry? Is this why it is more important to keep inflation down than to keep unemployment down. If you’ve already got the cash, you don’t need a job; you just need your cash to maintain its value.

Damn! I’ve become another Paul Krugman created liberal zombie. Stop me before I think again!

Kellyjo on August 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

America is freedom, but this is taken away when your entire life is governed… Keep God in your heart, and He will keep you safe…

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
Proverbs 16:3

Frank Moraes on August 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I’m confused. Am I to trust in the Lord to tell me how many people were at the rally? I don’t need to think about it, reason it through, or create and run tests? I just need to pray and God will tell me that there were over a half million people at the rally?

Truly, my God has much more pressing issues.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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