Monday, August 31, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for Sept. 1 - 6

This week's events:

Tuesday, September 1:
NORML is organizing people to go to City Hall to send a reform message to the National Drug Czar. They'll be meeting at St. Louis City Hall (1200 Market Street) at 9:30 AM.

Also Tuesday,
the 1SKY campaign will be outside Senator McCaskill's 5850 Delmar office demonstrating in support of the American Energy and Security Act but asking the Senator to make the legislation tougher on coal companies. The event is from noon to 1 PM.

Also Tuesday,
the St. Louis Beacon and Royale Bar Talk series continues with a discussion of segregated schools from 6 to 7:30 PM. The Royale is located at 3132 S. Kingshighway.

Also Tuesday,
the teabag Taliban, bravely defending the status quo on behalf of health insurance executives, will be at the Town and Country Whole Foods at 6 PM for a "buycott" supporting Whole Food's CEO's statement that "health care is not a right." I've heard there will be some counter-protesters there. If you have a creative idea, you should show up and might be able to have some fun and get some media attention.

Also Tuesday, the Repower America Bus Tour will be in St. Louis highlighitng the benefits to Americans of transitioning to a clean jobs economy that will employ millions. The rally will be at the Flo Valley STLCC (3400 Pershall) from 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

Wednesday, Sept. 2,
Join Grass Roots Organizing and Health Care For America NOW! at a Health Care Rally at 10:30 AM on the Missouri State Capital Steps in Jefferson City. Call 314-225-606 for more info.

Also Wednesday,
there will be a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association at ARAKA (131 Carondelet Plaza in Clayton) from 3 to 6 PM. There's also an opportunity for free haircuts for people who make a donation, so check it out

Also Wednesday,
The local council is holding a Healthcare Reform Vigil at Tower Grove Park (4256 Magnolia) from 7 to 8 PM. Let's keep the momentum going for Sunday's rally!

Thursday, Sept. 3
, Wine Arts Music is hosting a fundraiser for the Art and Cultural Diversity Education Programs at Belas Artes. The fundraiser will be between 6 and 10 PM at Belas Artes, 1854 Russell.

Also Thursday
is the September meeting of City Affair at the Trivers Associates Board Room from 7:30 to 8:30 PM. This month's topic of discussion is the proposal to replace part of I-70 with an urban boulevard to better connect the downtown, Arch grounds, and Mississippi.

Friday, Sept. 4, is the opening of SPOKED, an art exhibit dedicated to bicycles. The opening reception at the Soular Art Market (2028 S. 12th Street) is from 7 to 10 PM.

Saturday, Sept. 5, a group will be in Babler State Park for a morning clean-up project from 9 AM to 1 PM. Babler is located at 800 Guy Park Drive in Chesterfield. They'll be working on maintenance and trail pick-up.

Sunday, Sept. 6, and every Sunday, there will be a vigil at St. Francis Xavier Church on Grand and Lindell recognizing the true human costs of war. The vigil is from 7 to 7:30 PM.

A brief response to Adam Sharp

Adam Sharp is a right-wing blogger in the St. Louis region.  He recently wrote a post claiming that I am the "thought police" because I told him he shouldn't be trying to sneak into Organizing for America's Healthcare Rally and kept an eye on him throughout the event.  I'm not going to waste too much time on this, but basically if I was saying all of this to him simply because he was a random person who had views I disagreed with, then he would be correct.  However, from seeing Sharp in action, I know that he is someone who has consistently engaged in unethical and disruptive behavior at every single event he goes to.  In fact, in pretty much every event Sharp has been at, he has both broken the rules and whined about being persecuted by liberals.  I'm not a psychologist, but I would guess he might have something like narcissistic personality disorder.  Anyway, here's just a small review of the kind of behavior he engages in, taken mostly from the PushBack blog:

  • He directly and knowingly violated police orders to "move back" outside of a Carnahan Town Hall (see bottom of the post).
  • He snuck into a press conference on private property, then asked a question "as a citizen" when the moderator clearly stated that they wanted questions from the press.  While he was there, he argued against the answers experts were providing to media questions, including interrupting a pastor in attendence.
  • He was a distraction and a disturbance at the McCaskill Town Hall in Hillsboro, yet still whined about being persecuted.
  • And, in general, he runs around events trying to secretly capture people on film when they're not aware of him filming, then selectively edits their comments to make them look bad.
Given his consistent behavior pattern, I am quite sure that he would have tried to make himself a distraction and a disturbance at the OFA rally if I had not kept an eye on him and called him out.  He desparately craves being the center of right-wing attention, and I supposed that whining about "the thought police" has helped him to accomplish that, but importantly he wasn't able to cause any trouble at the event.  If he wants to write negative posts about me, I can live with that, but the bottom line is that the event went off without a hitch, and right-wingers are desperate now to focus on minutia rather than the obvious fact that they've lost all of their momentum and were seriously out-organized last night.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tea Party Counterprotest was a HUGE FAIL

It's official. The St. Louis tea party movement is fizzling out right in time for Congress to get back in session. Their movement of screaming, disrupting, and scare-mongering has backfired and all they have left to show for their efforts is a fired-up progressive base.

I wrote earlier about how the "recess rallies" were a huge failure for the St. Louis tea party, falling far short of their own goals, and getting only 1/5 of the turnout of their previous rallies, which they called a "warm up" to the recess rallies. Well, they have somehow managed to top even that massive failure.

Organizing for America put together a huge pro health care reform rally tonight. The teabaggers were desparate to try to stage a big counter-rally to try to grab some of the media attention they so desparately crave. Bill Hennessy, the leader of the St. Louis tea party, put forward a couple clear goals. One goal was to have more teabaggers attend the rally than reform supporters:
Another goal was to have 500 people attend:

Well, unsuprisingly, they fell massively short of both goals. Check out some pics of their puny numbers at one corner:
And the other corner:

These were taken about ten minutes for the rally started. They had a few more people trickle in after that, but these are pretty much representative of their final numbers. The best estimate is probably around 50 people, although if I was feeling generous I might say 75. In other words, in a best case scenario for them, they only got about 1/6 of their goal of 500 people. More likely they got 1/10. And considering there were well over 500 pro-reform people there (my best guess was 800 to 1000), they did even worse on their stated goal of "outnumbering" reform supporters.

Yup, the tea party movement is in its dying pangs. Just like the angry mobs at Palin's rallies, anger and stupidity are a great way to capture people's attention for short burst of time, but pretty bad long-term strategies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gladney's Site Offline: Is it because he was caught in a lie?? UPDATED

Update: is now back online. However, the original question remains: how can the unemployed Gladney vow to "never take money from special interests" while going on a week long bus tour funded by the astroturf group FreedomWorks?

Thanks to an anonymous commenter for pointing this out: the online site has been taken offline. Interestingly, this happens just a few days after I exposed the fact that their appears to be a blatant contradiction by a statement on that site and Gladney's announced future plans. Here's what I had to say:
Gladney also announced that he is going to be going on a nationwide tour with the Tea Party Express, a national propaganda campaign for the AstroTurf movement. Interestingly, Gladney had previously announced the following on his I Am Kenneth Gladney site, another money making instrument:
Kenneth wants to make it clear that he is not funded by any special interest group or political party. Kenneth vows never to accept funds from any of these sources. Project Liberty is "people-powered." As with any endeavor of this magnitude, there are costs associated with this. If you would like to help defray these costs in this fight for liberty, stand up with Kenneth and donate today (emphasis mine).
Yet you can see right on the bottom of the front page of the Teabag Express page a list of "partners" for the tour, including Freedom Works. Freedom Works is not just a special interest group, but in fact is literally the quintessential AstroTurf special interest group, led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who also headed, before being forced to resign due to the scandal, a lobbying firm that is employed by many companies who benefit from the current health care system....

Well, it certainly will be quite an accomplishment for the unemployed Gladney to go two weeks on a national bus tour without accepting any funds from the groups sponsoring the tour.
In other words, Gladney is pretty obviously violating his "vow" to never take money from special interest groups. Only a couple days after I pointed that out, the site was taken off the web. Fortunately, I learned a long time ago that when dealing with people such as these its important to take screen shots of everything they say (click on the image for a larger view: the 2nd to last paragraph is the important one).

And, for good measure, here's a picture of the taken-down site:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kenneth Gladney Update

Kenneth Gladney was named "Ass Clown of the Week" by an overwhelming margin in this week's Riverfront Times poll. I personally would have voted for Gladney's opportunistic "attorney who sells junk at political rallies" David Brown, but this is still good news as it shows that the only people who are swallowing the right-wing story whole with all of its inconsistencies are the same 30% of Americans who think Obama is a secret Muslim born in Kenya. See some of my previous writings about Gladney and Brown here and here.

Gladney also announced that he is going to be going on a nationwide tour with the Tea Party Express, a national propaganda campaign for the AstroTurf movement. Interestingly, Gladney announced the following on his I Am Kenneth Gladney site, another money making instrument:

Kenneth wants to make it clear that he is not funded by any special interest group or political party. Kenneth vows never to accept funds from any of these sources. Project Liberty is "people-powered." As with any endeavor of this magnitude, there are costs associated with this. If you would like to help defray these costs in this fight for liberty, stand up with Kenneth and donate today (emphasis mine).
Yet you can see right on the bottom of the front page of the Teabag Express page a list of "partners" for the tour, including Freedom Works. Freedom Works is not just a special interest group, but in fact is literally the quintessential AstroTurf special interest group, led by former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who also headed, before being forced to resign due to the scandal, a lobbying firm that is employed by many companies who benefit from the current health care system. You can watch a great Rachel Maddow video destroying Freedom Works here:

Well, it certainly will be quite an accomplishment for the unemployed Gladney to go two weeks on a national bus tour without accepting any funds from the groups sponsoring the tour.

Monday, August 24, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for Aug. 24 - 30

This Week's Events:

Monday, August 24, Pride St. Louis will be holding a community meeting from 7 to 8:20 PM at Trinity Episcopal Church at 600 N. Euclid. At the meeting, people can meet the 2010 Board of Directors, learn about upcoming events, and find out how to get more involved.

Tuesday, August 25, the St. Louis Regional Health Commission will be holding at Community Health Forum were people can share their experiences with the regional healthcare system. The event will be at St. Louis ConnectCare (in the gymnasium) at 5535 Delmar from 2 to 7 PM.

Also Tuesday, Left Bank Books will be hosting a Night of Music and Poetry, featuring Kristen Graves, at their downtown location at 321 N. 10th. The event starts at 7 PM

Wednesday, August 26, there will be a fundraiser for Gary McKiddy, a Democrat running for the State House of Representatives in District. The fundraiser will be at 6:30 N. Kingshighway in St. Charles from 5 to 9 PM.

Also Wednesday, the YWCA will be focusing this installment of the So Reel film series on Arican Americans learning to navigate the corporate ladder. The event will be at the Phyliss Wheatley Heritage Center, 2711 Locust, from 5:30 to 7 PM.

Also Wednesday,`Shamrocks for Shalom House is a fundraiser for the Shalom Outreach Society which provides shelter for homeless women in St. Louis. the fundraiser will be at McGurk's Irish Pub (1200 Russell Blvd) from 6 to 9 PM.

Also Wednesday, SOTA Gay-Straight Alliance is hosting the comedian ANT at the MUC Meridian Ballroom in Edwardsville, IL, from 7 to 9 PM.

Thursday, August 27, The UMSL Institute for Women's and Gender Studies is holding a clothing sale of stylish women's, men's, and children's clothes. Proceeds go to scholarships for the program. The event will be in the Century Room B of the Millennium Student Center at UMSL, One University Blvd, from 9 AM to 6 PM.

Also Thursday, is the Thirst for Life- Rehab Happy Hour where proceeds to to the St. Louis Effort for AIDS at 4054 Chouteau from 4 to 7 PM.

Also Thursday, Show Me Hand Made will be having a Happy Hour at Crestwood Courts from 6 to 8 PM.

Also Thursday, there is a Campaign Kickoff Fundraiser for Churie Spreng, a Democrat running in the 76th District for the Missouri House of Representatives. The event will be at Pirrone's Pizza, 1775 Washington in Florissant, from 5 to 7 PM.

Also Thursday will be the August Edition of Drinking Liberally, where participants will be drinking extra liberally to celebrate co-prez Brian Kauling's birthday. The festivities will be at the Premium Lounge, 4199 Manchester, from 6 to 10 PM.

Also Thursday, Metropolis St. Louis will be headed to the Botanical Gardens at 4344 Shaw at 6:30 for their Garden Party Nights and then on to O'Connell's Pub at 4652 afterward.

Also Thursday, there will be an (anti) Wrecking Ball party at Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp, from 7:30 to midnight to "uphold citizen participation in St. Louis preservation law."

Also Thursday, the Gay Men's Reading Group at Left Bank Books will be meeting to discuss How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can be Broken at 7:30 PM.

Friday, August 28, there will be a march and rally in commemoration of the Jefferson Bank civil disobedience that helped to open up employment for blacks in banking and other industries back in 1963. The event will be at 2301 Market Street from 4 to 6 PM.

Also Friday, The Burning Kumquat, organic community garden for WashU, will be having a Farm Party from 5:30 to 8 PM at the garden, located on Wallace Drive behind the Alumni House. Food+music+garden tours = good times.

Also Friday, the Southside Center is holding a Happy Hour for a Cause from 5:30 to 8:30 PM at the Parkside Lounge, 3117 S. Grand. Proceeds help to benefit the immigrant and refugee after school and therapy programs at the center.

Also Friday, the LGBT Center of St. Louis is holding their One Year Anniversary Celebration at 625 N. Euclid, Suite 420, from 6 to 9 PM.

Also Friday, Faith Aloud will be discussing two of the three things you're not supposed to talk about in polite conversations at the Sex and Religion Trivia Night at 15 Lenox Place from 7 to 10 PM (doors open at 6).

Saturday, August 29, there will be a fundraiser for Jessi Lisette, a wonderful person and friend of many members of the Activist Hub who suffered an ischemic cerebral stroke in April and needs help with her medical bills. The event will be at the Urban Eats Cafe, 3301 Meramec from 7 to 11:30 PM. Please stop by and pitch in if you can.

Saturday and Sunday will feature the always worthwhile Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park from noon to 8 PM.

By Their Own Criteria, Teabagger Recess Rallies were a Massive Failure

Sometimes inflating your numbers can get you into trouble. At previous teabagger rallies, local right-wing bloggers have been pulling large numbers out of a hat to pretend that their rallies were huge. For example, citing no sources whatsoever, Gateway Pundit made up the number 10,000 to describe a gathering of people in Kiener Plaza on tax day. Granted, it was a decent turnout; but the number 10,000 was pretty obviously an exaggeration.

But more importantly for present purposes, this exaggeration set the stage for what can only be described as a massive failure. Check out how the official tea party facebook group overseen by teabag king Bill Hennessy was billing last weekend's "recess rallies":

This is THE event of 2009, patriots. February 27, Tax Day, July 4 . . . think of those as recruiting drives. They were rallies. They did not move the needle.
August 22 moves the needle and moves mountains. IF YOU COMMIT to this event, you will change history. IF YOU STAY HOME, you will lose your country.
Yet, according to even their own exaggerated numbers, they only had 2,000 people at St. Louis rallies this past weekend. It's also worth noting that pretty much all of the local media gave an equal opportunity for reporters of health care reform to voice their message as opponents. In other words, not only are the teabaggers rapidly losing momentum, but the event they claimed all other events led up to was attended by approximately one fifth of the people who attended their earlier events, according to their own estimates! "THE EVENT" was only 1/5 as large as the "recruiting drives."

And in case you don't believe my assessment of their dismal failure, you can read Bill Hennessy's comment lamenting the tactical error of continuing with the rallies:

IMO, opponents of ObamaCare should have stopped this tactic before the left responded since a punch that misses requires 3 times the energy of a punch that lands. Continuing to flood town halls in the St. Louis area would be, at this point, irresponsible and undisciplined. For us, town halls present high risk and low reward.
Of course, in the full context of his quote he is saying that they shouldn't hold any future rallies, but it's easy to see that what motivates this is the fact that their rallies are losing rather than gaining momentum. Bill Hennessy is right; they should have quit before they lost 4/5 of their support.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Gladney Press Conference: Blames Obama for Beating

In case you had any question whether the actions of Kenneth Gladney and attorney David Brown are politically motivated, you can now put those questions to rest. In an interview on KSDK, Brown and Gladney said that while they're "not going so far as to say that there's a vast conspiracy" (10:13), they're certainly happy to hint at a connection between the altercation and the White House's quote: "if they punch us, we punch back twice as hard"(6:00). They then go on to add that, "anybody can draw their own conclusions for that" but that "it's rather suspicious that this happened just moments before the town hall meeting." Brown also mentions Kathleen Sebelius saying to the SEIU, "Keep on doing what you're doing," (5:10) mentioning that it's "up to people to decide" whether that refers to beating people up. And after Gladney says that he was just out there to make a buck, Brown claims that they are fighting back against people who think we should "blindly follow what the government has to say," (3:20).

This venturing into far-our conspiracy land, suggesting that Obama would be not just evil enough but also stupid enough to order "thugs" to beat up people at rallies shows us exactly how seriously we should take these two characters. They have made a decision to hint that somehow the White House, the SEIU, and Sebelius are all co-conspirators in a plot to beat up merchandise vendors outside of local townhalls. I'm starting to think that the rest of their story is just as absurd as this part.

Other interesting things to note from the video:

(1) When Gladney is asked what injuries he has sustained, he refers the question to his lawyer (11:50), Brown, who says that "it wouldn't be prudent at this time" to share any information about the injuries. Really? Surely he could have at least explained what it was that caused Gladney to be in a wheelchair two days after the event, despite running around vigorously immediately after the incident. I don't think I've ever seen the victims of alleged beatings claim that they need to wait to say how they were injured before.

(2) They say that they never asked the NAACP to get involved (11:19) and say that the NAACP should be able to do "whatever they want to do." Yet, they happily show up at the NAACP offices in what is explicitly a protest of the NAACP, alleging that the NAACP has a political bias that shows that they only care about African Americans who are Democrats. Not only that, but they're showing up on a day where the NAACP offices are closed in remembrance of local civil rights leader Margaret Bush Wilson. You would think that if they had any moral decency whatsoever they would not show up at a protest for something that they don't even believe in.

(3) Gladney lies about what wares he is selling, claiming that they are all "Don't tread on me" buttons (7:40), which is directly contradicted by video evidence from the scene.

(4) Gladney also claims that he was working for himself (0:35), which is contradicted by what Brown told right-wing blogger Jim Durbin, who wrote, "The buttons were manufacture or purchased by Brown (that's how he knows Kenneth, who was selling them for Brown." Again, it appears that either Brown or Gladney is lying.

So let's review. Initially, the right-wing claimed that the video showed that Gladney was attacked by SEIU. After other people carefully looked at the video and realized that it did not show that Gladney was attacked, the right-wing changed their story and claimed that everyone knows that the incident took place before the video. Then, at a later rally, Bill Hennessy asks people to donate money to help pay for Gladney's medical bills. They raise over $1,100 according to Brown. They then say that the claim that Gladney doesn't have insurance is a left-wing conspiracy, and instead try to raise money for Gladney and Brown's "Constitutional Tour".
In other words, Brown and Gladney are milking this for every dollar they can get.

And what is the evidence? Now that right-wingers admit that the video does not actually capture the incident, they say the truth will be revealed by the "independent witnesses" at the event. And who are these "indepdent witnesses"?

One is David Brown, the lawyer who was already making money off of Gladney and stands to make much more on their Constitution Tour.

Another is the shrieking woman in the green shirt who clearly rushed over after the incident is over (on left side of screen):
And, of course, there's the "You Attacked Him!" man in the white shirt, who can be seen in this video having to be held back from attacking an SEIU member:

With no medical records released and an inconclusive video, the only evidence that Gladney was attacked is the "eye witness" testimony of right-wing ideologues who were seen picking fights earlier in the forum, or who have a financial interest in making this into a spectacle. As i have said before, I can't claim to know exactly what happened, but to me it looks like this is going to end badly for the local tea party leaders. I just hope it happens soon so that they can't continue to try to use this to derail health care reform.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

St.. Louis Activist Events for August 17-23

This Week's Events:

Monday, August 17, Show Me No Hate is holding a meeting to plan for the National March for Equality at Mokabe's Coffee House from 5:15 to 7 PM. Mokabe's is located at 3606 Arsenal.

Also Monday, The Human Rights Campaign welcomes Voices of Honor for a discussion of the "don't ask don't tell" policy that prevents fit, competent, and skilled Americans from serving solely because of their sexual orientation. They'll be screening a film on the subject, Ask Not. The event is in the multi-purpose room of the Missouri History Museum at 5700 Lindell, from 6:30 to 8 PM.

Tuesday, August 18,UPDATE: See end of message Greenpeace, the Metro St. Louis Coalition for Inclusion and Equity, and M-SLICE will be holding a press conference outside of Clay Elementary School (3820 N. 14th) to identify the high-risk chemical facilities that each put 10,000 or more citizens at risk in Missouri. The press conference will be at 11 AM. UPDATE: this press conference has been moved to Wednesday at the same time and location.

Also Tuesday, veterinary behavior specialist Dr. Debra Horowitz will be giving a lecture, "Talking to the Animals: Enhancing Our Relationships with Our Canine and Feline Companions," at the Missouri History Museum (Lindell and DeBaliviere) at 7 PM.

Wednesday, August 19, the Current Affairs Reading Group at Left Bank Books will be discussing In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan from noon to 1 PM at 321 N 10th St.

Also Wednesday, the Greater St. Louis Council for Change will be meeting at Velocity Cafe (286 DeBaliviere) from 6 to 8 PM.

Wednesday through Friday, NARAL will be having a mailing party from 9 AM to 5 PM each day for their "Fabulous at Forty" Gala.

Thursday, August 20, there will be a Northside Bar Crawl in the Ville starting at 6:30. Says host Brian Marston, "The ville is St. Louis' Harlem, a close-knit black community that has made prodigious cultural contributions to the life of our city." The walk begins at MLK and Whittier; check here for the full schedule.

Also Thursday, the Missouri Organic Association will be discussing how to garden and care for your lawn naturally. They'll be meeting at 6:30 PM, unfortunately at the Whole Foods Market located in Town and Country.

Also Thursday, the Lesbian Reading Group at Left Bank Books will be discussing Stone Butch Blues at 7:30 PM at 399 N. Euclid.

Friday, August 21, the Peace Economy Project monthly BBQ/VBQ will host Kathy Wright, who will be discussing St. Louis' role in the Nuclear Freeze movement. The event will be at Grace United Methodist (6199 Waterman) from 5:30 to 7 PM.

Saturday, August 22, dress up in your tux, prom dress, gaudy jewelry or cuff links and join Billionaires for Wealthcare as we crash the St. Louis Tea Party rallies this Saturday.  Billionaires for Wealthcare remind the world that the status quo is all about protecting the profits of insurance companies and the richest Americans.  We'll be gathering across the street from Senator McCaskill's office at 5850 Delmar at 11:30 AM.  Wealthcare not healthcare!

Also Saturday, at 1 PM, Metropolitan Congregations United is sponsoring a health care reform vigil at the state headquarters of Anthem-Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Missouri, 1831 Chestnut in downtown St. Louis, to advocate for a health care system that is affordable and accessible for everyone. More information about the group is here.

Also Saturday, Rebuilding St. Louis Together is holding their 4th Annual Trivia Night at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd., from 7 to 10 PM.

Sunday, August 23, join the Bayou Bash at the Iron Barley (5510 Virginia) to listen to some blues and urban percussion, and to raise money for the Common Ground Relief Fund in New Orleans. The event is from 12:30 to 7 PM.

Also Sunday, there will be a reception and fundraiser for activist and Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein, celebrating her 85th birthday. The event will be at the Rosebud Cafe at the Scoot Joplin House, 2658 Delmar, from 5 to 8 PM.

Is the White House giving up on the public option?

Today, the Associated Press published a story claiming that the White House appears ready to abandon the public option. Without a public option, there is no real health care reform.

Adam thinks the AP story is a hit piece, and the White House is saying what it's always said about this issue. Whether or not that is the case, let's send a strong, clear message to our President that we want a public option! Below is the letter that I just sent him, for your inspiration:

Dear Mr. President,

The Associated Press has just published an article titled, "White House Appears Ready To Drop 'Public Option'." Please tell me that this article is wrong, and that you will continue to fight for a public option.

If you give up on the public option, you will be sending the message to American citizens that lies, intimidation, and temper tantrums work. Opponents of health care reform should not be rewarded for resorting to bullying and other childish tactics.

More important, the public option is an essential element of health care reform. It is necessary to compete with private insurance companies and ensure that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care.

As a person with a disability who receives SSDI, I am lucky enough to have health coverage under Medicare and Medicaid. A number of my friends -- both working and unemployed -- have not been so lucky.

One of my friends, who is deeply in debt due to educational loans and medical bills, is postponing crucial medical care because she has no health insurance. Another friend was hospitalized with a high fever from a severe mouth infection because she could not afford dental care. Still another is applying for SSDI not because he doesn't want to attempt to stay in the workforce despite his disability, but because he badly needs the health coverage that comes with government disability payments.

These are extreme examples, but let me assure you, almost everyone I know is affected one way or another by our broken health care system, and almost everyone I know could benefit significantly from a public option.

I thank you for everything you have done to clean up the mess left by the previous administration. I thank you for being a caring, compassionate, and thoughtful President. And I thank you in advance for continuing to stand strong for Americans' health care rights.


Luella B.

Are local right-wing activists panicking about the Gladney story? They should be!

The Missouri Political News Service (MOPNS), a right-wing mouthpiece, just sent out a mass message with a link to "Facts and Fiction" about Kenneth Gladney. The post is a remarkable failure of new media, providing absolutely no evidence to support any of their purported "facts" other than the decision to type FACT in all caps. For example, it states things like, "the man is an independent witness" without providing any evidence of how "independent" he is. And check out the completely laughable claim that, "St. Louis Tea Party leader, Bill Hennessy, innocently misstated that the money was going to pay for Gladney's medical expenses." And how are we supposed to know that McCowan attacked Gladney rather than the other way around? Oh, that's right, because MOPNS wrote the word "FACT" next to it. Very impressive piece of journalism.

But I think there might be something more going on than just the MOPNS typical lack of rigor. It's interesting that this mass message is going out exactly as Gladney and lawyer David Brown's already flimsy story is unravelling before our eyes. As I wrote earlier, Brown has been lying, even to conservative bloggers, about the incident. And their story still does not fit with the video evidence. Could right-wing activists be panicking because this story's about to blow up in their face?

I think they should be. Right-wing hacks like Bill Hennessy, Gateway Pundit, Dana Loesch, Sharp Elbows, and now MOPNS have all spoken with complete certainty that Gladney was the victim of an attack. Despite the fact that there is no conclusive evidence to support their story, they have not hesitated, or said "maybe", or allowed for any possibility that Gladney might have been partially to blame. And I submit that if it turns out that Gladney in fact was the instigator rather than victim, or even if he was merely equally culpable as McCowan, they will have revealed themselves to be liars who should never be trusted again.

We generally think of lying as saying something that we know to be false. But there's another kind of lying that right-wing extremists have mastered, and that is asserting that we know something that we don't actually know. Cheney said that he knew that Iraq had WMDs. By the very definition of the word "know", if Cheney knew that Iraq had WMDs, then it must be true that Iraq had WMDs. But since it is not true that Iraq had WMDs, then it is clearly not true that Cheney knew that they did, and hence Cheney was lying.

Likewise, all of these GOP mouthpieces are asserting that they know that Gladney was attacked. So if it turns out that he was not, they are clearly lying to us. Perhaps more importantly, they show that they are people whose words cannot be trusted, whether it's because they are deliberately dishonest or because they simply are not capable of evaluating evidence outside of their ideological blinders. Notice that none of this would be true if they simply were willing to say things like, "it looks like Gladney was attacked by SEIU thugs," or "the evidence seems to support Gladney's story." It's precisely their complete and ungiving uncertainty that make them so untrustworthy.

Finally, I should note that I have seen one exception: Jim Rubin of Though he is overly committed to the right-wing talking points, he was at least willing to propose a method for seeing whether McCowan or Brown were telling the truth. And after I showed him that Brown was lying, he (more or less) acknowledged it:

You're absolutely right. There is clear photographic evidence that there was something sold that showed Obama smoking weed, which means David mislead me, and it corroborates an important part of McCowan's second story.

I'll post this on my blog and get his response, but it's pretty clear.

I did some more digging last night, and there is more to this, so McCowan isn't exonerated, but David has some very pointed questions to answer that he can't duck
He's still using a lot of hedge words, but at least he was capable of being open to some evidence. The sooner local conservatives can start moving towards people with at least some ability to think, such as Jim, rather than the current group of completely cynical and self-serving leaders, the sooner we can start having real conversations.

David Brown Rushes Away from Scene of the Crime, Fails to Identify Himself as Gladney's Employer

First, as I have noted earlier today, Kenneth Gladney's lawyer David Brown has been caught deliberately misleading people about the incident with Elston McCowan and Kenneth Gladney. He has shown himself to be a completely untrustworthy source of information. But in doing my investigation, I came across a couple other facts that raise serious questions about what kind of a guy Brown is.

First, as Durbin writes, Gladney was selling buttons and flags for Brown at the event:
The buttons were manufactured or purchased by Brown (that's how he knows Kenneth, who was selling them for Brown)
The fact that Gladney is an employee of Brown raises some issues about how trustworthy a source Brown is about what happened at the scene of the altercation. He clearly has a financial interest in the story going a particular way. In fact, he says he is planning a "liberty tour" with Gladney around the country to raise awareness "for the children." That sounds like a nice opportunity to raise some funds. Furthermore, why does Brown identify himself only as a "friend" of Gladney in all of the interviews and statements? Shouldn't he be telling people that he was Gladney's employer at the event? For example, here's part of his initial press statement:
Kenneth was attacked on the evening of August 6, 2009 at Rep. Russ Carnahan’s town hall meeting in South St. Louis County. I was at the town hall meeting as well and witnessed the events leading up to the attack of Kenneth. Kenneth was approached by an SEIU representative as Kenneth was handing out “Don’t Tread on Me” flags to other conservatives. The SEIU representative demanded to know why a black man was handing out these flags. The SEIU member used a racial slur against Kenneth, then punched him in the face. Kenneth fell to the ground. Another SEIU member yelled racial epithets at Kenneth as he kicked him in the head and back. Kenneth was also brutally attacked by one other male SEIU member and an unidentified woman. The three men were clearly SEIU members, as they were wearing T-shirts with the SEIU logo.
Brown says, "I was at the town hall meeting," but not, "Kenneth was working for me." In the interest of full disclosure, he should be making their exact arrangement clear.

But more importantly, you can see on the original video that Brown grabs his button board and flees the scene! Here's is a slightly edited version of what I wrote earlier:

Here's Brown at a "protest" outside of SEIU(click for a larger image):
And here's Mr. Brown in the video you're about to see:
Amazingly, I think he's even wearing the same shirt. BTW, you can more easily tell that they're the same person by watching the videos. And note that it makes sense that Brown, who is employing Gladney and apparently this other person to sell buttons, is accompanying the button board.

Now, check out this video of Brown and another employee outside the Carnahan event, selling buttons. Note Brown's clothes.

(BTW, I should mention that I don't condone how Javonne is acting here, and I see that she apologizes as well).

Next up is the video from the night in question as a point of reference:

And here's a couple of amazing screenshots. After the fight breaks out, the same man with a blue shirt and khaki shorts (David Brown) walks over to the button board:
Then, absolutely freaking amazingly, while the police are talking with people about the incident where his "friend" and employee was supposedly assaulted, Brown grabs his board and high-tails it outta there!
This, to me, raises a huge number of serious questions. First, is Brown tampering with evidence at the scene of the fight? Why would he immediately be moving stuff that is at the center of the dispute? Why isn't he asking his "friend" how he's doing? Why is he in such a hurry to get out of there? Couldn't he have stayed near his merchandise and the crowd with no problems? The fact that Brown makes an effort to get out of there as soon as he can (or at least get his stuff out of there; I don't know if he later returned to the scene) suggests that he is trying to avoid responsibility for something, which in turn suggests that the story he and Gladwell is telling is not accurate.

David Brown has a lot of questions to answer.

Update: I changed the title to better reflect the fact that Brown left the scene of the crime with his button board, and then returned later.

Proof: Gladney's Attorney is Lying!

Jim Durbin, a blogger who has been arguing in my comments section here and who has stated that I like to "play around with video," put forward a challenge on his blog to see whether Gladney or McCowan is telling the truth about the recent altercation outside of Carnahan's town hall. Here's the basic idea: McCowan claimed that Gladney's board had buttons with Obama in blackface and Obama smoking dope on his bulletin board. But Gladney's attorney David Brown wrote to Durbin and showed him the 6 button designs he had used, saying "Attached please find the buttons that were sold that day by Kenneth", and none of those buttons met either of McCowan's descriptions. So here's what Durbin proposed:
We now have a way to know if someone is lying. The buttons were manufactured or purchased by Brown (that's how he knows Kenneth, who was selling them for Brown). He sent me these six designs. If there are two more designs on the board, or if someone has one of the buttons sold by Kenneth, or if there are pictures of the buttons, then we know that Brown is lying.

But if these are the only six buttons that Kenneth sold - if there was never any merchandise showing Obama smoking weed or in blackface - then we know that McCowan is lying, and created a story to cover his role in this. It's a pretty clear case at that point. McCowan has made public statements, and so has Gladney. These contradict each other.

Well ask and ye shall receive Mr. Durbin. I now present you with conclusive proof, in your own words, that Kenneth Gladney's attorney David Brown has lied to you.

First, for those who don't know (and Mr. Durbin should), I give you two pictures of David Brown:

Here's Brown at a "protest" outside of SEIU(click for a larger image):
And here's Mr. Brown in the video you're about to see:
Amazingly, I think he's even wearing the same shirt. Now I know it might be hard to tell from a couple pictures that it is the same guy. This actually is not that important for my evidence: I just present it to show you how strange the whole situation is. Nevertheless, I think that you can tell they're the same people if you watch the videos and Durbin also notes in the quote above that Gladney works for Brown by selling buttons, which is consistent with the fact that Brown is accompanying the button board outside the Carnahan rally (though with a different employee who is not Gladney). Anyway, like I said, not especially important, at least for present purposes.

What is important is the following video, at the 1:00 mark:

(BTW, I should note that I don't condone how's she acting here, and I see that she apologizes as well).

See Javonne (the lady in pink) taking a picture? Wouldn't you like to know what's on her picture??? Well here you go:
And let's zoom in just a little bit on those buttons:
Why, it's a picture of Obama smoking dope!

But we're not done yet, because we still have to show that these were at the scene of the incident. But that's not so hard either.

Here's the video as a reference:

And here's a couple of amazing screenshots. After the fight breaks out, the same man with a blue shirt and khaki shorts (David Brown) walks over to the button board:
Then, absolutely freaking amazingly, while the police are talking with people about the incident where his "friend" and employee was supposedly assaulted, Brown (or the guy in the blue shirt if you prefer) grabs his board and high-tails it outta there!
Now that's not very nice behavior from a "friend," is it? And why is Brown hiding his board when the police come? As an attorney, shouldn't he leave the crime scene intact?

Finally, and really all you need to know, you can see from a blow up of the button board that it does indeed include the "Dope" Obama button:

I said good day, sir! Jim Durbin, let's see if you are a man of your word. If so, then you will have to conclude that David Brown is lying.

(note to Mr. Durbin: I have taken screen shots of your blog post, so there would be no point in taking it down)

Update: I am getting some messages arguing that Obama is actually smoking a cigarette in the "DOPE" picture.  This is both wrong and irrelevant.  First of all, it's obvious what one connotation of "DOPE" is, and its not a coincidence that the picture used had him smoking.  Second, even if it were a cigarette, David Brown was still lying because he claimed to have emailed all of the button designs, which he clearly did not.  Third, it is obvious why McCowan would think that this is a picture of Obama smoking DOPE, so McCowan's story is still supported by the evidence.  Please stop wasting your time and mine trying to nitpick on irrelevant details.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tea Partiers on their Best Behavior

Before yesterday's Healthcare listening forum, the official St. Louis Tea Party website (run by multiplication-challenged Bill Hennessy) had the following message:

Folks who consider themselves part of the Tea Party movement are likely to attend, and we hope they will treat the event with due respect and dignity. We ask that they open with a prayer outside the auditorium, before the event, asking for strength and peace...Those who have not yet expressed their opinion to Senator McCaskill, and those who have not heard the Senator’s positions should attend the Hillsboro event. All who attend should be polite. And they should all thank Senator McCaskill for behaving like a Senator.
So how did they behave?

If Senator McCaskill expressed an opinion they didn't agree with, they would interrupt her, scream, and boo:

If she expressed an opinion that they should agree with, they would scream "LIAR! LIAR!":

When she challenged them to think, they grumbled:

And my personal favorite, when she asked them "Do you all think that you're persuading people when you shout?", they emphatically answered, 'YES!":

Of course, they also cheered and blamed the victim when one of their crazier members ripped a Rosa Parks sign out of the hands of a woman.

And when it was all over, after McCaskill had put up with all of this "polite" behavior for three hours, they declared that, "McCaskill has charms only a snake could love."

Stay classy, tea party. I wonder why Hotflash compared you to a bunch of children.

Tea Party Members Blaming the Victim

By now, you probably have all seen the video where a crazy man rips a Rosa Parks sign out of Maxine Johnson's hands, crumples it up, and throws it on the floor. The other right-wing tea party people in the audience applaud the man and jeer Johnson as she is escorted out of the building:

And guess what the reaction was of other teabaggers who were outside the event? Well, to blame the victim of course:

Of course, they didn't seem to care about all the other tea party members who brought in signs:

I think this is pretty symbolic of the tea party movement as a whole (note to word parsers, I am not implying that all Republicans or all people opposed to health care are this ridiculous, but a large percentage of the audience clearly was).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bill Hennessy's Fuzzy Math

Bill Hennessy, leader of the local tea party movement, writes in a recent letter to Senator McCaskill:

Claire, there are 10,000 people who come to tea parties in the St. Louis [region]. For every one who comes, at least 1,000 support the ideals.
Let's see, 10,000 x 1,000 = 10 million St. Louis area residents supporting the tea parties. That pretty impressive, considering that the total number of people in the greater St. Louis metro area is estimated as a little less than 3 million.

So there you have it. 7 million more people than the actual population support his movement. Or, the other possibility is that both his 10,000 attendees number and his claim that 1,000 people support it for every 1 who shows up are complete BS.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for August 10 - 16

This week's events:

Monday, August 10, Laird Schaub, a founder of one of Missouri's oldest intentional communities, will be speaking from 6:3o to 9:30 about "Living in Community" at Home Eco, 4611 Macklind Avenue.

Also Monday, Black Bear Bakery at 2639 Cherokee will be hosting the Urban Renewal Film Festival from 8:30 to 10:30 PM, which features films that start community dialogues about urban revitalization.

Tuesday, August 11, Claire McCaskill will be hosting a "Healthcare Listening Forum" from 2 to 4 PM at the Field House at 1000 Viking Drive in Hillsboro, MO.  The teabaggers will be out in full force, looking for any excuse they can find to call Obama a Nazi, so we need as many people to attend as possible if we want real healthcare reform to happen.  University City cancelled the event closer to St. Louis, but you can RSVP for the Hillsboro event here.  Get there early!

Also Tuesday, Amnesty International is having their monthly meeting at Bethel Lutheran Church (7001 Forsyth Boulevard) from 7 to 8:30 PM.

Wednesday, August 12, ReVitalize St. Louis is holding a fundraiser for a "Downtown Defense Fund" with the Dave Drebes Players from 6 to 8 PM at the Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway).

Also Wednesday, the Urban League Young Professionals of Metropolitan St. Louis is holding their general body meeting from 6 to 8 PM at their HQs at 3701 Grandel.

Thursday, August 13, The Bleeding Deacon at 4123 Chippewa is hosting a "Party to Prevent Violence" from 4 PM to 8 PM with 10% of sales going to Safe Connections.

Friday, August 14, there will be a Healthcare Reform Solidarity meeting at the Culture Cafe (6150 Delmar) from 5:30 to 8:30 with Reggae, Hip Hop, Soul and a petition to support Obama's health care efforts.

Also Friday, the Step to the Bete fundraiser for the American Diabetes Association will be at EXO Ultra Lounge at 3146 Locust from 6 PM to 3 AM.  RSVP is required.

Also Friday, there will be a benefit for Prison Performing Arts at the Mad Art Gallery (2727 S. 12th Street) from 7 to 11 PM featuring belly dancers, fire eaters, an auction of St. Louis artists' work, samplings from St. Louis's food traditions, and much more!

Saturday, August 15, is the date for Walk as One, an annual walk and picnic bringing together St. Louisans to stand up against racism and oppression.  They'll be meeting at 9 AM at Langenberg Field in Forest Park.

Also Saturday, the St. Louis Rehabbers Club will feature the Southwest Garden Neighborhood in their monthly tour. They'll be meeting at 9:30 AM at 4950 Southwest Avenue. 

Also Saturday, the St. Charles County Young Democrats are having a BBQ for Change from 10 AM to 5 PM at 2871 N. Highway 94.

Also Saturday is the day of the Great Nationwide Kiss-In, celebrating love and affection and open to everyone!  They'll be meeting in front of City Hall (1200 Market St.) from noon to 3 PM.

Also Saturday is the 4th Annual Thirst for Life Kickoff Party, raising money for PAWS (Pets are Wonderful Support) and the St. Louis Effort for AIDS, and featuring "The Art of PAWS."  Music, food, and art will be happening from 7 to 10 PM at Just John in the Grove (4112 Manchester).  

And Saturday night is the night for the much-anticipated 2nd annual World Naked Bike Ride, an event protesting oil dependency, advocating positive body image, and raising cyclist awareness.  The festivities kick off at 9 PM at Stupp Plaza in Tower Grove Park.

Sunday, August 16, the Human Rights Campaign in St. Louis will be celebrating St. Louis Black Pride with a Festival in the Plaza from 2 to 8 PM in Keiner Plaza.

Questioning the Right-Wing Story on Last Week's Altercation

Last Thursday, the right-wing teabaggers intent on derailing health care reform once again attempted to disrupt a town hall meeting hosted by Congressmen Russ Carnahan. Progressives did a good job organizing a response this time, and the right-wing narrative since has focused on claims that "union thugs" attacked conservative activist Kenneth Gladney. Service Employees International Union (the union in question) has denied the charges, saying that Gladney attacked first. Here I analyze the video that is the tea baggers' primary evidence, and argue that it seems perfectly consistent with SEIU's story, and rather inconsistent with Gladney's story.

First, let me point out that I was out of town that week, and so couldn't be at the event. So I am not claiming to know what happened. In fact, I feel very similar to how I felt before the Iraq War: I didn't know that Saddam Hussein did not possess WMDs; I just knew that no one had provided me with any good evidence that he did. Likewise, right now I have yet to be provided with any good evidence that Gladney was the victim rather than the instigator (or co-instigator) of last Thursday's events. If someone has further evidence that is relevant, I'd be very interested to see it.

So what is the evidence? The primary teabagger evidence is this video:

The video is grainy and starts late, and clearly does not capture the whole story, so we have no way of knowing whether the Republican who filmed it really included the full sequence of events that were captured on tape. However, at first glance, we see some sort of a scuffle with a lot of screaming, and then see a large man with an SEIU shirt pull someone (Gladney) to the ground. Later in the video, Gladney claims that he was attacked simply for trying to sell his merchandise. So, at least at a loose glance, the video seems to support the right-wing story.

However, I've noticed quite a few subtleties in the video that actually seem to better support the story that SEIU is stating: namely, that Gladney was an instigator of the fight or was at the very least equally culpable. To start with, many of the statements from SEIU people in the video immediately lend support to the SEIU story rather than Gladney's (note: Elston McCowan is a minister in an SEIU shirt who was on the ground at the beginning of the video) :
(0:23) Angry women: He started it.
McCowan: Nah, he pushed me first.
(0:37) Gladney (to McCowan): Man, what the hell is wrong with you?
McCowan: You pushed me.
Gladney: Why'd you hit my hands?
(0:44) Angry teabagger: You attacked that guy for nothing.
Man in SEIU shirt: No, we didn't attack him for nothing. He hit Elston. Elston's a damn minister idiot! How'd [he fight?] a minister?...
Angry teabagger: Two of you guys attacked that guy!
Man in SEIU shirt: No we didn't. He attacked a minister.
OK, so maybe it's not surprising that the statements of SEIU folks during the video support their story. But on the other hand, consider the fact that many of Gladney's later statements seem to be inconsistent with what transpired on the video.

Here is how Gladney described what happened as a guest on Neil Cavuto's Fox News show:

GLADNEY Well, let’s see. Let’s start from the beginning- about- about 8:30- 8:45, we were- I was setting up actually to pass out the ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flags. A priest’s wife- she walked up to me and I was kind of showing her some of the merchandise that we had- that I had there at the time. And this guy- he walked up to me and said, who in the- you know, who in the blank is selling this blank here. And I said, sir, this is my merchandise, and- you know, would you like a flag or something like that? And he was like, what kind of ‘N’ are you to be giving out this kind of stuff here? And he snatched the- the button board. And when he snatched the button board, I snatched it back from him, and that’s when he proceeded to hit me in my face. After that, another member of his organization ran up, and he starts hitting me in my face as well. I fell to the floor. And another guy from the organization- a tall guy- a Caucasian- he began to grab me by my collar- by my neck, and he hit me in my face on the left side and knocked me back to the floor. And that’s when a woman started kicking me in the back of my head and in my back-
Several things strike me as very strange about these claims. For reference, here is a picture of Gladney's outfit so you can identify him in future pictures (click on this or any of the pictures for a larger version):

First, you can see at the beginning of the video that both McCowan and Gladney are on the ground (McCowen is circled in blue, Gladney in red):

You can see that Gladney gets up right away:

This immediately calls into question some of his testimony. First of all, (#4) it is clear from the video that Gladney gets up unobstructed, in contrast to his claim that he was being beaten while on the ground. Second, (#5) if he was on the ground being beaten, then how did Elston McCowan get on the ground? If Gladney was surrounded and being beaten by a mob, it's hard to imagine that McCowan would have coincidentally fallen to the ground and dislocated his shoulder. Someone put McCowan on the ground.

Next (#6), Gladney claims that he was being beaten by at least four people. Why, then, when asked by the videographer who was attacking him, did he answer (at 1:19), "That guy attacked me...the black guy there." If you were attacked by a mob of people, wouldn't you say that they had all attacked you? Furthermore, the only video evidence provided was of the large guy in the SEIU shirt pulling Gladney backwards, but this appears not to be the relevant event for Gladney. When interviewed on the spot, he thinks the important thing to focus on is that Elston McCowen attacked him, but there is absolutely no video evidence for that claim. All of the other stuff only appeared after he spoke with his lawyer and presumably other right-wing activists.

Also note (#7) that Gladney claimed in the Cavuto interview that he was hit in the face repeatedly, included by Elston. But in the quoted passage above (#2, 0:43), after McCowan says that Gladney had pushed him, Gladney asks McCowan, "Why did you hit my hands?" If someone were punching you in the face, I find it very implausible that you would choose to ask why they hit your hands. You probably would focus on the getting-hit-in-the-face part of the encounter.

Finally, (#8), listen at 1:10 where a voice that sure sounds exactly like Gladney's says, "I'm gonna beat the shit outta him." That does not sound like the innocent victim that Gladney portrays himself as being.

I think some of the most damning evidence against Gladney's story comes from some of the pictures. In this still frame of the video (around 0:05), you can see one of the SEIU people that Gladney claims attacked him standing directly over McCowan:

His body language quite clearly indicates a defensive posture, looking to protect McCowan from attack. But more importantly, check out some screen shots of Gladney:

It's a bit hard to see, but Gladley is clearly in an aggressive posture. He is facing McCowan on the ground, his knees bent as if ready to strike. As the videographer gets closer, it's a bit easier to see:

Finally, check out this picture:
In it, Gladley's fist is clearly clenched, and someone his holding his arm back. He looks like a man ready and willing to fight. Unlike the teabaggers, I will not claim that I have omniscient knowledge of who started this fight, but it certainly seems evident that Gladley was a willing participant who shares some of the responsibility.

Last, but not least, consider the fact that Gladney appeared at this Saturday's teabagger protest of SEIU in a wheelchair, claiming that he is not strong enough to talk:

He was sure able to walk, speak, and threaten to "beat the shit out of" people immediately after the incident. Now I've been hurt before in situations where I didn't feel it at the time but later was pretty sore. But not being able to speak? Like the rest of the story, it doesn't fit with what we can see on the video.