Archive for March, 2010

New political brews: coffee, tea, or cocoa parties

Tea Party meeting sign in rural Texas

The Tea Party movement celebrated its one-year anniversary at the end of February. In 2009, the grassroots surge of conservative-minded voters had brewed up a political tempest in their tea pot by staging hundreds of “tax day” tea parties on April 15th across the country. From then until now, the upstart movement has managed to influence several major political elections and events, call the mainstream media into account for anti-conservative biases, and establish itself as an almost daily fixture in the national news cycle; no mean feat for any grassroots effort let alone a staunchly conservative one.

But maybe the biggest sign of the Tea Party movement’s success and effectiveness at stirring things up across the political landscape is the current burst of wannabe, beverage-oriented “movements” bubbling up through the social media. First came the Coffee Party Movement, which started to percolate online around the time the tea party movements were celebrating their first anniversary. Coffee Party USA founder, Annabel Park, called it an alternative to the Tea Party movement, claiming the group was designed to be “a grassroots online Facebook network which advocates cooperation among elected representatives and promotes civil public discourse.”

The most obvious implication of Park’s mission statement is her view that the Tea Party does not promote “civil” public discourse nor advocate “cooperation” among elected representatives. These contra-conservative overtones have continued throughout Park’s public appearances. Her YouTube video – Coffee Party: How We Began – clearly aims to characterize tea partiers as divisive and “obstructionist.” This begs the question of whether the Coffee Party Movement would be “obstructive” toward conservative legislation they oppose.

Park, who appears to be Asian, also takes aim at what she sees as the tea partiers’ lack of ethnic diversity. She stops short of actually playing the race card but the YouTube video makes it clear this is another one of Park’s talking points about the Tea Party movement.

Watch the video here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lO_5HvnFEv0

More egregious to tea partiers about coffee partiers, however, might be the mainstream media omissions about the founder of the Coffee Party movement. Newsbusters’ Matthew Balan reported on CNN’s bias toward Park (www.newsbusters.org). According to Balan, “John Roberts and Kiran Chetry omitted mentioning that Annabel Park, the founder of the so-called Coffee Party, worked as a volunteer for President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, during an interview on Wednesday’s American Morning. The anchors also didn’t mention Park’s past work for the liberal New York Times.”

Read more here: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/matthew-balan/2010/03/03/cnn-omits-coffee-party-founders-past-obama-volunteer#ixzz0h8oUboHe

Also read William Jacobson on his Legal Insurrection blog – as reported by the Media Research Center (MRC) – where he “cited some of Park’s posts on her Twitter account, including this charming appeal to sweet reason posted by Park on January 26, where Park sounds far less measured…

‘we need to re-engage the grassroots movemnt that got Obama elected. we need to get busy. cannot give it away to tea baggers.'”

The MRC story goes on to report that “Jacobson also uncovered Park’s support for the Obama campaign…Jacobson found that Park was ‘one of the organizers and operators of the United for Obama video channel at YouTube.'”

Read the MRC story here: http://www.mrc.org/timeswatch/articles/2010/20100303082633.aspx

Now there’s the “Cocoa Party” movement, also founded on Facebook, which puts forth a mission “…to forge a culture of ludicrous propaganda that is entirely blame-oriented.”

The FB page can be found at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=340386299906&v=info

So what’s next? The latte party? The chai movement? Suffice it to say that the days of two-party political rhetoric are definitely over. Time to brew up a cuppa whatever you’re drinking, log on and enjoy the show.

Follow on Twitter: @FreemanTweets

FreemanSpeaks also writes for The Austin Capital Times online: http://www.austincapitaltimes.com  Follow on Twitter: @ATXCapTimes

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Election Night in Driftwood, TX: Legendary BBQ, Legendary Governor

This story also posted online at The Austin Capital Times: http://www.austincapitaltimes.com Follow on Twitter: @ATXCapTimes. Follow FreemanSpeaks on Twitter: @FreemanTweets

It could hardly get any more Texas than Governor Rick Perry’s primary election night party at the  legendary Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, about 25 miles southwest of Austin and the capitol building Perry still hopes to govern. Believe it or not, Driftwood was already on the map thanks to the Salt Lick before Perry, hundreds of friends and supporters, and a media entourage took over “the pavilion” to await returns in Tuesday’s primary vote.

While waiting the bloggers blogged, the reporters reported, the beer flowed and the brisket and beans more than satisfied. Nothing left to do but top it all off with some peach or blackberry cobbler with ice cream, and wait around for the victory speech. Perry won handily over GOP opponents Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina, so no surprises there. But it sure was a great excuse for a party and another opportunity for Perry to talk Texas swagger to the voters, the media, and the politicians checking in from the nation’s capitol.

After a few brief introductions – and a slightly flubbed patriotic song rendition by an American Idol contestant from Texas – Governor Perry’s wife, Anita, introduced her husband by describing him as “a man who thinks all day about Texas, a man who dreams about Texas, a man who wakes up and wonders what he can do to make Texas a better place…for our children and our grandchildren.”  Governor Perry took the stage and – after acknowledging Kay Bailey Hutchison’s congratulatory phone call – enjoyed himself immensely, as usual, talking about his favorite subjects: Texas, Texans, and Washington, DC. Here are some of the  more memorable lines from the ever-quotable governor on primary election night:

“There are plenty of people who thought (last year’s presidential election) was a final nail in the coffin of conservatism. But there have been a string of victories lately – in NJ, VA, MA – and now there’s been a victory in TX!”

“From Driftwood, Texas, all the way up to Washington, DC, we’re sending a message to you tonight: Stop messing with Texas!”

“We’re not doing fancy stuff down here but it’s working”

“We gotta stay attuned to the threat of a federal government that keeps trying to overreach, overspend, and overdraw our children’s and grandchildren’s bank accounts”

“It is clear that the Obama administration and their allies aleady have Texas in their crosshairs. I can assure you,  we’re going to get all kinds of special attention down here in the future.”

Perry – well on his way to an unprecedented third term as governor of Texas – closed his remarks with a call for the US government to “retreat to the boundaries set by the 10th amendment.” Needless to say, that left the crowd calling for “four more years” for Perry. And unless his democrat opponent for governor – former Houston mayro Bill White – can top that type of “Don’t Mess with Texas” sentiment, voters here are not likely to send Perry packing in November.

This story also posted online at The Austin Capital Times: http://www.austincapitaltimes.com  Follow on Twitter: @ATXCapTimes. Follow FreemanSpeaks on Twitter: @FreemanTweets