How we are home to “wing nuts” in the Golden State

If you want to know how we are home to “wing nuts,” read these two reports of the Glenn Beck rally in Washington D.C. on Saturday:

Here’s what CBS reported: 87,000 people at the event. A news account is here.

Here’s what George Rebane, The Union’s columnist and financial contributor to Tom McClintock, Mark Meckler as well as Sue Horne’s vision of a “community leader” reported — an event that “drew somewhere in the neighborhood of 400,000 people.” Read his “armchair quarterback” report here.

What entity will call them out? Where’s the local media? Where’s the critical reporting? Where’s the civic, business and elected leaders? If you think this “political culture” will attract the retiring baby boomers, you’re, well, nuts. “We’re Californians,” and this mindset is more like Kentucky or downstate Indiana.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

25 thoughts on “How we are home to “wing nuts” in the Golden State”

  1. Hey I Guess Something Really Is Happening Here!

    There’s something happening here
    And it doesn’t welcome the queer
    There’s a man with a gun over there
    Telling me I got to be square

    I think it’s time we shop, boomers, big and round
    Everybody keep the Muslims down

    There’s faux lines being drawn
    Everybody’s right and they’re never wrong
    Old people speaking their minds
    Getting so much assistance from inside

    I think it’s time we shop, boomers, big and round
    Everybody keep the Muslims down

    What a field-day for the sheet
    A thousand Righties in the street
    Singing songs and carrying signs
    Mostly lying for their hides

    I think it’s time we shop, boomers, big and round
    Everybody keep the Muslims down

    Paranoia strikes deep
    Into your bedrooms it will peep
    You start to realize that your afraid
    Dog whistle…..Glenn Beck will come take you away

    We better shop, hey, big and round
    Everybody keep the Muslims down
    Shop, hey, get big and round
    Everybody look what’s coming to town
    Stop, now, follow the clown
    Everybody keep the Muslims down
    Stop, boomers, minds, unsound
    Everybody keep the Muslims down

  2. No, no, Steve,
    This blog is all about telling us how you really feel, so when you run into the folks at the post office or the like, you merely step up and shake their hand: “Well, hello Mr./Mrs./Ms. Isn’t the weather beautiful”? After all, people here do it all the time.

  3. It’s interesting and significant that Rebane’s “armchair quarterback report” on the Beck rally was more like a TV Guide synopsis and gave no detailed report on its content.

    In fact, the bulk of his report wasn’t about the Beck event at all, but was focused instead on Sharpton’s counter-rally. This gave Rebane a satisfying opportunity to ride what is no doubt one of his favorite hobby-horses, so-called left-wing teacher’s unions.

    It doesn’t say much for the Beck rally that one of its local supporters, someone who was apparently able to watch it on CSPAN while eating breakfast (presumably without getting indigestion), can’t be bothered to report on its actual content in enough detail to help us understand the ideas (if any) promoted there, much less visit the scene vicariously.

    This is reminiscent of the Tea Party movement, which seems more defined by what it’s against than what it’s for.

      1. Anna,

        My answers are YES – NO – NO.

        When I was in school that was a failing grade so I guess I don’t get to join the local Tea Party!


  4. Jeff,

    Conservative rallies are always underestimated: I remember one year that James Dobson had areal photos taken of the ProLife rally and had them professional analyzed just to prove the point.

    However, on the flip side what has amazed me is that Beck has been able to call this a non-partisan and non-political rally with a straight-face and the media has larger gone along with that and yet he had Sarah Palin as a key-note speaker. Gotta hand it to him for that one!


  5. Jeff,

    Now it turns out that George is being conservative in his estimate. This from the Washington Post:

    “On a day when crowd estimates could provide their respective groups with political clout, [Congresswoman] Bachmann asked her audience how many thought more than 1 million people were in attendance. The question was met by big cheers from the gathering of about 1,000. “We’re not going let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today because we were witnesses,” Bachmann said.”


  6. Jeff,

    And the New York Times seems to side with George:

    “Officials do not make crowd estimates because they are unreliable and can be controversial, but event organizers put the number of attendees at 500,000; NBC News said it was closer to 300,000, but by any measure it was a large turnout. The crowd stretched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument.”


  7. John,
    Did you read the links? CBS hired experts to estimate the crowds. Funny how you belittle the mainstream media, except when it comes to sloppy reporting to prove your point.

  8. Jeff,

    Beware, I suspect that Mr. Beck might have the final word: Remember he had Dr. Dobson as one of his speakers so he may have passed along the idea of taking pictures!

    I did see some of the coverage today, and at least based on crowd estimates that have been done in the past I would have to say that CBS was being pretty conservative [pun intended].


  9. John,
    To repeat, CBS hired experts. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to remember I still live in California.

  10. This conversation is a little discouraging. It seems to be about the numbers, not the essence.

    James Dobson has done a great work trying to bring forth some truths, and it appears he is being discredited here. He served on Reagan’s porn commission to his disgust, and has since become a little more outspoken in his observations (as we get older, it matters less what people think).

    So one has to ask the questions…..was the rally a ‘success’ or not?

    Aeral photos going back to the 60’s should easily answer the numbers questions, so why avoid the TOPIC?

    Time, and votes, will ultimately answer that question, I suppose. In the meantime, can we get back on topic?

  11. I think the key question is: Did the Rally CHANGE ANYTHING? Nationally or Locally?

    The only change I have seen is a massive boycott of all of FOX Sponsors. About 70K taken part as of right now, Link:

    I checked THEUNION.COM late Saturday afternoon. Not a peep about this topic.

    Question: Would you boycott locally, folks who support with money and material, events that Tea Party folks or the like, organize. Same for any left type sponsors? Would you tell anyone else to?

    1. And this is priceless…

      “Restoring Honor”: Glenn Beck honors Glenn Beck
      August 28, 2010 7:43 pm ET — 26 Comments
      Much of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” weekend — and the run-up to it — focused on one thing: Glenn Beck. Beck introduced a Beck-sanctioned clergy group that he claimed represented “180 million people,” repeatedly associated himself with Martin Luther King Jr., made outlandish claims about the impact of the events, and was praised as “one of America’s most trusted and honored citizens.”

      “As Martin Luther King said … “: Beck’s litany of self-aggrandizing claims


  12. What little I saw on T V of the Beck event (really non-event in terms of national importance and actual numbers as reported by CBS, and I believe this number as T P always vastly exaggerate numbers of those participating) pictured Beck as pretending to be some kind of Messiah. Seems to me this fellow has really gone over the edge, though I confess to knowing little about him, haven’t watched him on T V, read his book as so much of value out there to read, watch, learn from and don’t want to waste time on ravings of those whose sanity, expertise, truthfulness, I seriously doubt. This brings me to George Rebane, whose unpaid columns in The Union I stopped reading as nothing new there but much conjecture, junk science, misinformation. I also do not bother with his blog or whatever it is he uses as a soapox besides our local rag. I must object, however, to his comments as reported here concerning education (from the ’60’s). Apparently his comments, like so many of them, is based on nothing but something flying, or maybe, rattling around in his head. I was a teacher in a public high school during those years, and my own 4 kids were students, and my experience was that public education during those years was as good as any available in private or public schools anywhere in the world. Knocking the public education system is a favorite hobby of the Radical Right, who would never admit that any government program has succeeded and would, if they could, privatize them all and make them for-profit, from public schools to Social Security and Medicare. Fortunately, the average American voter is much smarter than the wingnuts give them credit for and is not taken in.

    1. Pat,
      You always make excellent points. I also never read the LIARS COLUMN.

      This is also interesting, if not new:


      This isn’t your friendly, local group of small businesses. The U.S. Chamber –lobbyists for America’s most powerful multinational corporations — is a huge supporter of candidates who want to return America to the same Bush policies that wrecked our economy. So far, the Chamber has been active in a number of states, including attacks on Barbara Boxer in California (locally we have dangerous Weldon C. Travis!). But it has committed to spend $75 Million, so don’t be surprised when their smear campaigns start appearing all over the nation.

      2010 Commitment: $75 million

      In the fight for the Senate, every seat matters. Keep Barbara Boxer, Russ Feingold and Patty Murry in the Senate, and keep extremists like Weldon Travis out of our local Chamber.

      1. Sorry, that should have been up above for Anna…


        Two questions for you on educations:

        1) When schools have only about half of the students proficient at even the most basic level for math and reading, are they doing a good job?

        2) Why would it be wrong to get a refundable tax-credit of say $7,000 to any parent who wanted to use it for some alternative to the neighborhood school? That is half of what is paid per student today so it would be a win for the state budget as well.


        PS: Full disclosure: I went to government schools but I home schooled five or our six children.

  13. Besides denying they are “wingnuts,” some of the people on George Rebane’s blog are poo pooing CBS’ report of the crowd size, using (depending instead on their own personal “expertise”). Here’s what officials told CNN:
    “CNN contacted about the estimate they did for CBS News. A company official told CNN they used photos taken from their tethered balloons to shoot photos at the height of the crowd. They then had 3 experts use their own methodologies to evaluate the crowd. Company officials said they extrapolated the crowd size from 2-D and 3-D grids of the photographs marked off in small boxes.”

    More here:

  14. This event was held in the highly populated east,within range of millions of Beck and Palin worshipers who were able to make it to this event.There must have also been many who were there out of curiosity.

  15. Plus one has to figure the Tea Bagger money groups and billionaires leading them around by the nose had to have countless busses lined up for free transportation to and fro…

    Get the mostly affluent, high middle class folks to do the bidding of the billionaires and corporate folks who are so afraid of paying fair share of taxes that they support a complete lunatic, by most accounts, who is in it for himself and nobody else, except those pockets he can pick.

    Besides, Tea Fellows are not suppose to be into positions on religions and gay rights and such….oh, but that little detail musta slipped by the wayside or some deep crack.

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