Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

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The Cody-Big Horn Basin Tea Party and other horror stories

Submitted to me today. I’ve edited a tiny bit and embedded a few links (and gifs), but the message remains the same — this is a creepy eyewitness account of the Tea Party strain operating in Northwestern Wyoming. It’s also a long read, but worth it. I included my own commentary, plus information on blackmail of myself and another Wyoming journalist:

April 11

Cody Folks:

I don’t do this very often, but I believe this is important when something disturbing occurs that you are not likely to see in the local newspaper.

Besides, it’s always fun to sandbag the teabaggers. Or rather it would be fun, if that dubious rabble weren’t trying to usurp the public democratic process, that is…

Last night, the Tea Party cabal used the public meeting to discuss the City of Cody Master Plan for the community’s future as a venue to actively advance their own misguided/downright paranoid political agenda. They were accosting people — quietly, but accosting them nevertheless — to get signatures for a petition to repeal Senator Hank Coe’s SF104, [the] “Hill Bill” that reorganized the state Department of Education during this last legislative session. They were working the crowd while those citizens were trying to work through the comprehensive and complicated City Master Plan while city officials and Councilmen were trying to explain it to them.

Some context: Cindy Hill, the disgraced and all-but-ousted Superintendent of Public Instruction, is the darling of the state tea party movement, and was elected by them. The Cody-Big Horn chapter of these faux patriots and wingnuts who drape themselves in the flag while waving the Constitution at the rising full moon, are determined to get Cindy Hill back in office.


As a means to that end (and their wider agenda), the Teabaggers usurped the meeting to their own purposes, [which was] not related to the purpose of the meeting and the intent of the gathering. It is obvious from observing their actions and tactics these past few months, as was demonstrated blatantly last night, that the Cody-Big Horn County cabal of Teabaggers have little or no respect for the actual democratic process and the process of community policy. They stopped short of getting in people’s faces (present company excluded), but they were very assertive about working the room. They are a very disrespectful lot.

A couple of weeks ago, they used those disdainful tactics to gain control of the Park County Republican Party by outvoting (narrowly) the small number of real Republicans who showed up for the caucus. For this we have the APATHY of the county GOP to thank for not turning up at their own annual meeting, and thus allowing the upstart usurpers of the Tea Party to wrest control from the mainstream Republicans. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum now, and you let them.


Last night, the lunatics (many of whom live outside the City limits) were at the City of Cody Master Plan meeting to divert and disrupt it. If you thought you were going to a citywide public gathering to work through the crucial Cody planning process last night at the Cody Clubroom, you were also attending a Tea Party circle jerk.

There was an ex-Cody police officer, Vince Vanata, who is a tea party activist, pushing petitions in front of people. Vanata was fired by the City of Cody for unprofessionalism. They allowed him to remain on administrative probation as a cop a couple years ago, but Vanata kept acting unprofessional on the job (ask the Cody Enterprise editor-publisher about that … he was on the receiving end of Vanata’s personal impropriety in abusing his office, as were so many others in Cody during his faded blue career as a town cop). 

Vanata has re-emerged as a teabagger. It felt good to get in his face — and I most certainly did — to chastise him for abusing the democratic process by usurping the Master Plan meeting by turning it into a tea party mosh.


Bob “Tex” Berry was there also, along with his camp of followers, working the room and confronting the City.

Here’s the unbelievable episode: The teabaggers were also “documenting”  the City of Cody officials in attendance as an attempt to prove they’re apart of the vast global conspiracy known to the paranoid Right as "Agenda 21".  Yup — the Cody-Big Horn Basin Tea Party was there to prove that your sweet but dim Mayor and her Merry Men of average Joe citizen councilmen are actually frontline soldiers in the world domination conspiracy of Agenda 21. The local teabaggers are certain of this.


I just thought you should know. 

Bottom Line:  The community needs to keep an eye on these teabagging yahoos, and quit letting them get away with this disruptive, disrespectful, divisive crap. Read the tea leaves, people! These folks are nuts, and they are trying to get control of your civic process and local governments. Agenda 21 is imaginary and paranoid. Unfortunately, the local teabaggers’ agenda is real, and also palpably paranoid.

- Dewey Vanderhoff

Photos (captions and images courtesy Dewey Vanderhoff):


THIS is what was supposed to be happening last night. City Planner Todd Stowell explaining the Master Plan to concerned Cody citizens.


City Councilman Donnie Anderson Sr. (center right) works through planning charts with Cody citizens. This was a function of the Master Plan meeting.


Demoted and discharged Cody police officer Vince Vanata, in black coat, gathering signatures on the Tea Party petition to reinstate demoted State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill by repealing SF-104. Tell me again how this is related to the City’s Master Plan?


Vince does not like having a camera shoved in his face. I gladly posed for his smartphone, though.


David Koch, the News Director of KODI-Big Horn Radio Network, tries to get a meaningful sound bite from Vanata


Bob Berry, right, unsuccessful candidate for State Senate last August who ran a vindictive write-in campaign after losing the primary election, and his teabagger sidekick, confront a City of Cody employee from the Public Works department.

Honestly, the Cody-Big Horn Basin Tea Party has long scared the shit out of me. One of their acolytes, David Kellett, told David Koch of KODI that Americans should be able to own any weapon, including nukes, as long as the government has them too.

Bob Berry’s wife, Robin, sounded the alarm on March 23, 2012 thusly: “The current administration is bankrupting our country on purpose to what end we are unsure, but that it is not for the betterment of the people of this country or its future - that is certain… Wake up America the devil is at the door and you are napping whilst he breaks in and binds you up and enslaves you!” 

The Tea Party’s blog also had one hilarious suggestion: “One of my co-workers had the excellent idea to affix tea bags to your rearview mirror. This way, as we drive around town we can identify our compatriots. I tried tying one to the antenna, but lost it in the Cody wind before the vehicle even got moving.” It beats Truck Nutz, I suppose.

Interestingly enough, David Koch and I are friends. Also interesting is that David was blackmailed in a similar fashion to myself. Both of us are considered “enemies” of the Tea Party, due to our stances on Cindy Hill and gun control. I was blackmailed within two weeks of appearing on David Koch’s show. The address of my website was given out while I was on-air — standard for any guest. Vanata and Berry both are suspected by many in Cody for blackmailing David, and it would not shock me to know that either was involved with blackmailing me. 

The Tea Party’s influence might be waning in other parts of the country, but here in Wyoming, its influence is growing — particularly in certain pockets of the state. As far as I’m concerned, these people are not patriots. They are opportunistic, paranoid weasels, just the type that Richard Hofstadter wrote about in his seminal 1964 essay, The Paranoid Style of American Politics. As Hofstadter warned: 

"But the modern right wing, as Daniel Bell has put it, feels dispossessed: America has been largely taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion. The old American virtues have already been eaten away by cosmopolitans and intellectuals; the old competitive capitalism has been gradually undermined by socialistic and communistic schemers; the old national security and independence have been destroyed by treasonous plots, having as their most powerful agents not merely outsiders and foreigners as of old but major statesmen who are at the very centers of American power. Their predecessors had discovered conspiracies; the modern radical right finds conspiracy to be betrayal from on high…

"The paranoid spokesman sees the fate of conspiracy in apocalyptic terms—he traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders, whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point. Like religious millennialists he expresses the anxiety of those who are living through the last days and he is sometimes disposed to set a date fort the apocalypse. (“Time is running out,” said Welch in 1951. “Evidence is piling up on many sides and from many sources that October 1952 is the fatal month when Stalin will attack.”)

As a member of the avant-garde who is capable of perceiving the conspiracy before it is fully obvious to an as yet unaroused public, the paranoid is a militant leader. He does not see social conflict as something to be mediated and compromised, in the manner of the working politician. Since what is at stake is always a conflict between absolute good and absolute evil, what is necessary is not compromise but the will to fight things out to a finish.”

The Cody-Big Horn Basin Tea Party may as well have existed in 1964, in the McCarthy era, and in the 1850s when the Know-Nothings plotted to wrest control of the government and oust the Catholic and immigrant menace.

Same as it ever was.

Oh, and if any of you radical right-wingers are reading this, here’s my response:


I. Am. Not. Afraid. Of. You.



Filed under Tea party Dewey Vanderhoff Politics Long Reads Wyoming Cody Big Horn Basin David Koch Meg Lanker-Simons right-wing Richard Hofstadter paranoia Republican Agenda 21 guns gun control blackmail Bob Berry Vince Vanata

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