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I have problems with this story

The above video was posted on YouTube by Mike Ditto:

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), a first-term Congressman I like very much, held a townhall meeting on health care today outside a King Soopers grocery store in Brighton, CO, which is about 1/2 hour northeast of Denver.

Some of the signs these protesters carry are just nuts. Like, “Jesus is My Single Payer” and “Seniors, Get Your Death Pill here” (photos from Complete Colorado, whose coverage of the event is here.)

To his credit, Rep. Perlmutter actually sat down and listened to folks discuss health care.

Mike Ditto (Progress Now, former online communications director for Mark Udall and many others and former TalkLeft webmaster) had his car vandalized .

Here is a picture of the event from Complete Colorado:


perlmutter1

I wasn’t there and I don’t know Mike Ditto – I never even heard of him before today – but I have a problem with this story. First and foremost is the assumption that this vandalism was caused by “teabaggers.”

From the facts available we are told that Ditto attended this outdoor townhall in the parking lot of a supermarket near Denver.  The event was held in the day time and based on the photo was attended by approximately 200-300 people.  There were some people protesting but no indication that the event was rowdy.  At least one photo shows a police officer was present during the event.

The event ended and Ditto says he went inside the store to get a drink and when he came back outside he saw his car was vandalized.  He videotaped the damage which includes broken side mirrors as well as dents on the doors, side panels and hood.  He also points out that there was a flyer for a  health care reform event held four weeks earlier visible in the back seat.

Ditto does not mention any witnesses not does he say he witnessed the vandalism taking place.  There is also no mention of where his vehicle was parked in relation to the event.  There is no mention of whether a police report was made.

We are asked to believe that one or more “teabaggers” either spotted the flyer or recognized Ditto and committed the vandalism because he is a supporter of the current health care reform bill.  I don’t think the evidence supports that allegation by a preponderance of evidence let alone beyond a reasonable doubt.

If you were on a civil jury and were asked to find the tea partiers liable for the damages to Ditto’s car, you would have to agree that the evidence showed that it was more likely than not that the damage was caused by them.  At a criminal trial you would have to say it was caused by them beyond a reasonable doubt.

I can think of several other plausible scenarios:

1. The car was vandalized by one of more supporters of HCR that mistook Ditto’s car for a tea partier’s car.

2.  The damage was a random act of vandalism

3.  The damage was caused by someone with a personal grievance against Ditto.

4.  The damage was caused by a person with a personal grievance against someone other than Ditto who vandalized Ditto’s car by mistake.

5. Ditto damaged his own vehicle for insurance purposes.

6. Ditto damaged his own vehicle in order to blame it on the tea partiers.

I’m not saying that any of these other scenarios is more likely than the scenario presented by Ditto and Jeralyn. But I don’t see that their scenario is more likely than all of the other scenarios combined. Jurors would not be expected to determine the truth, they would only be asked to determine whether Ditto proved his case by a preponderance of the evidence.

There are a couple of other things that bother me. This vandalism allegedly occurred in a supermarket parking lot in broad daylight on a Saturday, but there were no witnesses? The dent on the hood looks like it was caused by someone jumping on the hood and the other damage would have caused quite a bit of noise.

I find it hard to believe that with all the people (including police) around the vandalism could have gone unnoticed during the event.  Ditto was presumably outside in the parking lot except for when he entered the store afterward to buy something to drink, so he should have only been inside a few minutes.  Was someone loitering around after the event waiting for a chance to commit vandalism?

Considering the damage that was caused, why weren’t any windows, headlights or taillights damaged? Glass is a favorite target of most vandals and auto glass breaks quietly.   On the other hand, someone fraudulently damaging their own vehicle might be reluctant to break the glass or lights if they planned to keep driving it until it was repaired.

Last of all, when Ditto points out the flyer in his backseat, you can see it laying on top of his folded up windshield sunshade.  I think it’s kind of strange that the flyer from an event held four weeks earlier is not only still in his car but but appears new and crisp sitting atop his sunshade in the middle of summer.  Doesn’t he use his sunshade?

Perhaps Ditto can shed more light on this incident and resolve the problems I have. Until he does I am not ready to point the finger of blame at anyone.  The burden of proof is on the person making the claim.

UPDATE:

Here is a report on the event from 9News:

An estimated 400 – 500 people showed up for a regularly scheduled “Government in the Grocery” meeting hosted by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) on Saturday.

“Government in the Grocery” was set up a couple years ago, and moves around to stores within Perlmutter’s district giving constituents an opportunity to sit down with their representative one-on-one to ask questions and discuss issues that interest them outside the congressman’s office.

The King Soopers store agreed to allow the regularly scheduled meeting despite word from Perlmutter’s office on Tuesday, a large crowd and protests were likely over the health care reform debate.

Trail Dougherty, King Sooper’s spokesperson said the event would be called the moment things got out of hand.

The event was scheduled from 1-3 p.m., and people started showing up around 11 a.m. to get in line, since Perlmutter agreed to talk with his constituents one at a time. But, given the crowd, the plan was altered to accommodate more people roughly allowing between 10-15 groups of five to meet with the congressman.

“It’s difficult to go over much in 5 minutes,” said Judy Hazen who sat down with Perlmutter.

Some people from the crowd asked Perlmutter to address them directly, but the congressman stuck to his plan saying, “This was never set up to be a town hall, we’re at a private business and King Soopers has been nice enough to accommodate us,” said Perlmutter.

Many carried signs outside the Brighton grocery story, and as the weather got hotter, so did the debate among opposing sides in the crowd.

“Hey, hey, ho-ho, the status quo has got to go,” chanted supporters of healthcare reform.

The opposition followed with, “Obama’s got to go!”

Brighton Police and King Soopers security kept a close eye on the crowd, but despite their efforts, one King Soopers customer reported being accidentally knocked down by the crowd outside the store.

Perlmutter got a bull horn and asked the crowd for their cooperation, and the event continued without incident, however businesses in the area complained the crowd kept regular customers away for much of the afternoon.

King Soopers apologized for inconvenience.

The crowd dispersed around 4 p.m.

The 9News story includes a live video report made during the event.


UPDATE II:

More coverage and photos from the Peoples Press Collective here.


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47 Responses

  1. Seems to me they are spending an awful lot of time trying to dismiss and discredit all protesters as organized plants. Just like all those Southerners from W. Va and Kentucky who voted for Hillary were ALL rac*st rednecks. (I actually had an acquaintance make that claim to me, that ALL of Kentucky was rac*st). Is it evenly remotely feasible that all of these people are being bussed in and compelled to attend at small gatherings around the country? Even those folks have to have a desire to question to take the time to attend–they are not being paid like other organized protesters we know…

    • I’ve heard the same nonsense as you. But hey hey, don’t call WV southerners. They didn’t fight against the south and split from VA in the civil war for fun. And for that matter Kentucky, home state of Lincoln, was on the union side as well. Both are “border states”, and WV in particular does not see itself as southern.

      I don’t think all the effort of many in both state promoting and helping the underground railroad nor the many black soldiers coming out of KY in particular (e.g., camp nelson) fighting for the union would like their memory tainted.

      But of course our new fauxgressives have no sense of history or what realities are. Of course there are r@cists everywhere including those regions of the country. But in my travels, my experience is that there are almost exactly the same percentage of ignorant and hate filled people in every region. No locale has it any better or worse. Some are more quiet and clever about it, but stupidity is everywhere.

  2. The same thing happened with the Sotomayor situation. Any question of “is she liberal enough?” was ignored. Instead, any criticism of her was shouted down as RACISM.

    Bloggers, including Talkleft, definitely get these memos.

    And now, Mike Ditto could potentially be in on a really slimy effort to brand disagreement with violence.

    • I’m not saying Ditto did anything wrong, but even if everything he says is true it still doesn’t mean it was the tea partiers that vandalized his car.

      • If it smells like Bull@#$@, it usually is. Me thinks he damaged his own car to make it look like these “Crazy old Tea-baggers” went nuts.

        Smells fishy to me.

        • BTW, is that you pictured in your avatar? And yes, that’s me depicted in mine. 🙂

          • You need to put on some weight.

            My avatar/guardian angel/fairy godmother/roomie is Captain Spaulding.

            (The Rob Zombie version, not the Marx Bros)

          • hee hee. Yep, I’ve definitely let myself go.

            I was asking RedDragon about his though. I know where yours comes from. Which by the way, I give the official DT blessing. OK, I’m stealing the blessing thing from Chelsea Handler. But when it’s funny, it belongs to everyone. Hmm, comedy writers probably don’t like that attitude.

          • That’s me Dandy. LOL

        • Yeah, that eau de tuna smell hit my nostrils too.

          • Ooooh oooh, OK, this would be funny. Next time you have failbot blogstalkers (isn’t that redundant) that you let through for fun, not only edit what they’re saying, but give them an avatar of a flag with a fish on it.

  3. Your opening quote is Jeralyn’s post on the topic of the gathering and Ditto’s misfortune. The comment section associated with the piece is worth a read, too.

    Your post is so reasoned by comparison.

  4. You can see Ditto’s pictures of the damage here.

    One of them answers the question about a police report – you can see the cop in the reflection from the paint.

    • From that link is this statement from Ditto:

      At the King Soopers in Brighton, Colorado, Rep. Ed Perlmutter held one of his Government at Your Grocery events where throngs of supporters showed up to push for health insurance reform, but a hard core of right wingers including Minutemen showed up, one of who saw fit to do serious damage to my car.

      That’s the first I heard of the Minutemen being there – are there any pictures of them?

      • Some of the damage looks like wear and tear dings, not vandalism. Another scenario to add to your list: Ditto exchanged harsh words with someone at the event and that person retaliated.

        There is absolutely no evidence presented that supports the claim that a group of tea partiers (note the plural) patrolled the parking lot looking for opposition cars to damage.

        • I was thinking the same thing about some of the damage…they look like scrape marks received from hitting (side-swiping) something, not vandalism. Does he have pictures of his car pre-event to compare?

      • He did say that the police have requested the parking lot surveillance tapes.

  5. Ditto is full of shitto.

    • Perhaps, but I would like to see him address my concerns before jumping to that conclusion either.

      It’s his burden of proof – if he can meet that burden then I’ll accept his version and put the blame on the tea partiers.

  6. They said we were Astroturf too.

    Tea partiers are obstructionists but they also are terrified of “socialism” as if HCR were socialist. They are no different than fauxgressives who listened to Obama’s speeches and thought he was a progressive.

    • then i guess im a right wing wacko even though my wife and i just about maxed out with our financial support for hillary and we are not rich.
      i have read enough of this pile of crap to know i want nothing to do with it,and if single payer is anything like what is proposed here thanks but no thnks.btw we have 2 special need kids so i know about medical problems.i wish i could go and give thease idiots a piece of my mind.

      • Whether or not someone supports single payer is one issue. I support it as do most of us here.

        But the issue in this post is the effort to demonize all opponents of Obamacare as a mob of brownshirt thugs. Principles of democracy like freedom of speech are supposed to apply to everyone, whether we agree with them or not.

        • Amen, myiq. I spent too much time during the Bush years reading endless diatribes on how “dissent (even loud and unruly dissent) is the highest form of patriotism”, and blog after blog after blog pontificating on the dangers of “chilling free speech”, of painting protestors as a bunch of dirty hippie drug addicts. That chilling effect was roundly condemned as WRONG, even if one was not actually outlawing free speech. Oh, we just LOVED to quote the constitution and the founding fathers during the Bush years, didn’t we? We just loved to quote Chomsky, too: “If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all.”

          I agreed that dissent is patriotic. I believed it then, and I STILL believe it, even when I don’t agree with all the current dissenters. Many of my compatriots on the left? Not so much now. Now it’s “Oh, it’s our guys doing the chilling and saying STFU from the whitehouse and the steps of congress? Well, that’s okay then.”

          These people DISGUST me.

          • I have to say I’m stunned when I hear someone on the left railing against someone protesting. I thought that was one of our core beliefs. Oh wait, I figured out the problem. It’s my assumption that they’re actually from the left. 🙂

          • The Failbot response would be that it’s the violence and intimidation they object to.

            The problem is they can’t document the violence and intimidation – the only evidence has the pro-Obamacare people guilty..

  7. I’m questioning the flyer too. That’s my biggest red flag. So fresh, tidy, and ON TOP of everything else after four weeks of blowing around in the back seat? Color me skeptical.

    On a side note, I had my side mirror kicked off just like his in a parking lot in San Mateo, CA. Just some malicious punk.

    I need to know more. He could think it was tea partiers, but that doesn’t make it so. Innocent until proven guilty, and all of that ‘quaint’ stuff.

    • The flyer? I don’t know about Ditto, but if I toss something on the seat of may car, it is NOT neatly sitting pristinely on the back seat. Did he open his windows? Air does makes paper move when exposed or does he really expect us to believe it sat there for 4 weeks defying the laws of nature?

      No….This is an attempt to gin up rage against the Tea-partiers. Yeah, some of them are annoying but 200-300 people there and NO ONE witnessed this act of vandalism?

      BullS@#$!

      Oh well….seems Ditto is looking for his 15 minutes of fame.

  8. Anything to try to prove there was violence there. (A lot of it was sprayed soda pop)

  9. That is quite a leap to suggest one side of that particular gathering specifically targeted his car. It’s certainly possible. But just as possible are a lot of other scenarios as you stated.

    Rule #10 is quite a good one and certainly works. And even if he didn’t do the damage himself, he could very likely be taking advantage of either previous damage or random damage of unknown origins. Which means, he’s actually astroturfing. So since he brought it up, that’s what he’s doing unless he can provide something concrete.

  10. Here’s another fun meme to add to the tribal dichotomy: tribal bigotry. For Mike Ditto (or others in other contexts) to assume attitudes and behavior and especially violent behavior based on tribal membership, is tribal bigotry. Basically here Mike is saying, I’m sure someone from that tribe did it because, well, you know how they are. You know how they live. They’re not like you and me.

    • to me it sounds just like “there were ni**ers nearby so they must have vandalized my car.” Same old bigotry.

  11. myiq, Mitch Albom of Detroit Free Press has done an excellent editorial on the town hall protests.

    No matter what I think of national health care — no matter what you think, either — it is an issue that affects everyone, and everyone should have the same right to talk, argue or shout about it.

    `snip`

    It may not be pretty, but shouting and confrontations are part of this country. They have been from the start. More manners would be better. But silence would be worse.

    He speaks of growing up in the 60’s, and our protests, then says:

    Well, some of us are the same people now offended by critics shouting, “Socialism!” or, “Kill the bill!” at these town hall meetings. We chide the protesters for lacking all the facts or for looking out for only their small group’s interests.

    But ask yourself, did we always have all the information when we did the shouting? Did we always read all the fine print? Probably not. We had our basic core beliefs (Stop the war! Save the environment! More rights for women!) and we fought for them whenever we perceived an enemy.

    Well, like it or not, people perceive an enemy when they hear about a government health-care plan. Especially one so complex, confusing and undercooked that no one can really say what it will or won’t allow, or who will or won’t pay for it.

    http://freep.com/article/20090809/COL01/908090487/Health-care-protests-are-American–too

    • Nice find. I especially like when he admits that the evolving bill is complex, etc. and we don’t know yet if it will make things better or worse.

  12. Also, a good clip of a caller on CSpan, explaining her frustration with the demonization of the protestors, and why she’s REALLY angry (hint: it’s not because she’s a neocon. It’s the trust.)

    http://www.c-spanarchives.org/library/index.php?main_page=product_video_info&products_id=288294-6&showVid=true&clipStart=1526.01&clipStop=1755.65

  13. After the SEIU display in St Louis, I would view any such allegation with a dubious eye. With 200 to 300 people in the parking lot (including a police Officer) I find it hard to believe that it happened on that lot.

  14. I don’t think Ditto has considered another possibility. He has a flyer for a past event prominently visible. Why not assume that someone from his own side of the street sees it and thinks—here is one of those Tea Bag Party out of town organizers. I’ll fix his wagon (so to speak). I like this explanation best of all because as long as I am making things up, I like that dash of Karma in the mix.

    I think the big message here is the American people are all over this like a duck on a June bug. Both supporters and questioners/opponents are hot—and it’s not just the August sun. The Democrats are totally unprepared for this and that speaks to their total lack of leadership and clear political thinking. If they were the party I used to support and honor, they would have a real plan; they would be able to answer questions; they would not be at war with the American people. The big question is—will people settle down and cool off? If things get hotter and more inflamed—very bad for Dems. I pray that we do not have a Kent State event. But this so reminds me of my early voting days in the 60’s and 70’s. Then too, the Dems handled it badly. Can any of us from those days forget the Democratic party in convention in Chicago—-how Chicago politics played out then/how it will play out now. The thermadorian reaction.

    • Yep. And Bill Ayers went to that convention with the full intention of inciting violence, but didn’t tell anyone but his 5 closest friends.

      All the rest of the Peace Movement got painted as rabble rousers, as violent, as “unhinged,” thanks to him.

      Notice how none of the MSNBC pundits are discussing the Black conservative who got beat up by the SEIU thugs?

      This could end up very badly for the Democratic Party.

      • Some people did a protest with that guy in front of the SEIU headquarters. They had two empty lawn chairs set up labeled “ACLU” and “NAACP”, to point out that they were notably absent.

  15. I’m glad to hear some sanity about these protests. It always starts with the media of course but they’ve been too quick to label the hostile protestors as Republican Operatives. Sorry, I’d be there protesting too. The Politicos are trying to sell us something that does not exist, not even on paper. Tell me the facts and details of the plan, better yet, let me read it, then I’ll listen as you try to sell me on it. The days of “trust us” are over.

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