Sunday, April 25, 2010

Coffee, Tea Or Me?

 Under the category every little bit of news helps, the National Coffee Party Sunday was featured by Newsweek. Its soft-spoken Korean-American founder stressed she hoped the group can overcome the temptation to shout, scream, spit, rant, curse and grab attention as does those nasty people in the Tea Party movement.

Lots of luck, Annabel Park.

For those who muddle through life without a Facebook page such as myself, the Coffee Party is the progressive's answer to the conservative Tea Partiers. All Park asks is members keep a civil tongue and calmly and intelligently discuss the nation's pressing issues.

The Newsweek article wasted no time documenting a National Coffee Day gathering -- 500 meetings throughout the country several Saturday's ago -- in which she was the star attraction at Washington D.C.'s extremely liberal clientele at Busboys and Poets cafe.

But from the moment folks in the crowd stood up to speak their minds, Park knew these people had not come to sip cappuccinos and set an example of civility for an overheated nation. They were angry. They hated the Tea Party, and the Republican Party. They wanted to get even. One audience member said America was under the thumb of oligarchs and denounced "moneyed interests." A few people hissed when Sarah Palin's name was mentioned. 

... Park, a 42-year-old Korean-American with a smile that can only be described as "kind," regularly tried to steer the talk back to the group's more centrist principles. But when someone asked how many people in the room were Republicans, all 80 hands remained down. "I like the civility idea, but I hate the Tea Party people," said attendee Karen Anderson. By the end of the event, some in the crowd had decided the movement, barely two months old at the time, needed a new leader. China Dickerson, a 26-year-old community organizer, said the Coffee Party wouldn't last "unless we get someone a little more powerful to head it." She wanted a rabble-rouser, "not someone that says we can all work together." 

Park, who admits she's an amateur in the political arena, stood her ground.  "We don't want conflict and confrontation," she said.

Launching of the Coffee Party in January triggered an avalanche of right-wing attacks claiming all sorts of nasty charges that Park worked for the Obama presidential campaign and the group is financed by the world's most evil monster George Soros and supported by the equally sinister MoveOn.Org. One on-line commentator claimed the ethnic Korean leader was an agent for the Chinese Community Party.

The Coffee Party website denies all charges. It's a newsy page dutifully reporting Newsweek's estimate the organization has 200,000 members. Every time she writes a new item on her Facebook Page, it receives 1 million hits, Newsweek said.

The website lists five ways people can help spread the Coffee Party gospel. 1) Speed dial Congress; 2) Contact local media; 3) Invite friends to join; 4) Print copies of the group's flyer and post it everywhere people gather; and 5) donate $5.

The online New Hampshire Sentinel, which supports the Coffee Party, said each meeting begins with a pledge
 “to conduct myself in a way that is civil, honest and respectful toward people with whom I disagree.”

“But is it possible," the publication asks, "to accomplish anything significant without making “a ruckus”?

“Anger, fear, these are powerful, and there’s a lot of interesting political science research on the power of emotions,” Steven Greene, a political science professor at North Carolina State University told the Raleigh News & Observer. “Negative emotions seem to be more politically effective.”
Yael T. Abouhalkah, editorial page columnist for the Kansas City Star, finds the Coffee Party vs Tea Party fight rather amusing.

Coffee Party supporters spend too much time maintaining their followers aren't automatically liberal, pro-Obama people. Um, yes, most are.

Tea Party backers spend too much energy claiming their supporters aren't automatically conservative, anti-Obama people. Again, yeah, the large majority are.

While it's entertaining, the spat has produced lots of rumors about the Coffee Party, which some of its organizers have taken time to try to shoot down. You can read them (on) Google to your heart's delight to ...
Or, you can just call it like it is and recognize the Coffee Party is a liberal response to the conservative Tea Party.

Readers comments are welcome as long as they remain civil. We reserve the right to delete any comments that are vulgar, libelous and totally irrelevant to this posting. -- Jer

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