"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Coffee Party Part 1: AstroTurf Started by "United by Obama" Operator Annabel Park

There's a lot of buzz regarding the Coffee Party. Both the The New York Times and Washington Post have run articles that are clearly trumpeting this group.

From Kate Zernike's NYT article:

"Fed up with government gridlock, but put off by the flavor of the Tea Party, people in cities across the country are offering an alternative: the Coffee Party.

"Growing through a Facebook page, the party pledges to 'support leaders who work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them.'"

[...]

"The slogan is 'Wake Up and Stand Up.' The mission statement declares that the federal government is 'not the enemy of the people, but the expression of our collective will, and that we must participate in the democratic process in order to address the challenges we face as Americans.'"

[...]

"'We’re not the opposite of the Tea Party,' Ms. Park, 41, said. 'We’re a different model of civic participation, but in the end we may want some of the same things.'"

[...]

"Ms. Park and chapter organizers said they would invite Tea Party members to join their Coffee counterparts in discussions. 'We need to roll up our sleeves, put our heads together and work it out,' she said. 'That’s, to me, an American way of doing this.'"

The Washington Post went a step further and gave Coffee Party USA founder Annabel Park an open forum during a live Q&A. In that forum Park had to answer softball questions like:

"Wall Township, N.J.: I think this is a wonderful idea, and a long time in coming. Our politicians need to know that we also have a voice. Annabel, will you be helping in going beyond the Internet in your organizing? In other words will you consider public gatherings?

"Thanks

"Annabel Park: Yes, the Internet is a tool for organizing a grassroots movement focused on building communities where people feel safe to engage in civic discourse. We will do 2 things.

"1) We will organize public gatherings. One of the events that we are planning is a national coffee house day on March 13th, in which we will encourage our existing and soon-to-form chapters to facilitate informative and civil dialogue about issues that affect all of us, collectively. We will ask them to report back to us on what consensus they reach, and take action from there.

"2) We will figure out how to use technology to create collaborative environments for Americans to engage in problem solving, and discuss specific policy approaches.

"Vienna, Va.: I think there is an intersection between the Tea Party and the Coffee Party. I think that both groups understand that corporate America has too much influence in our government.

"The insurance companies and others making massive money off health care are the ones pushing back on changes to that system. The utilities and oil companies don't want caps on carbon because the status quo works just find for them.

"If we could come together and beat back the 'Lobbyist Beast' our representatives would have to represent us and not corporate interests. How could we join forces and roll the corporate lobbies back?

"Annabel Park: I do think there is room for us to work with people who are currently in the Tea Party, especially in the area you mention. To do this, we have to go through a process. We have to sit down with people who identify with the Tea Party movement with the goal of reaching understanding.

"It is true that both groups feel that the government is failing us in many ways. I think if we examine the language that some in the Tea Party have been using, there are some things that are alienating to many of us in the Coffee Party: the extreme rhetoric, and the hostility toward the federal government. We would have to ask them tone this down, so that we can focus on actively listening to one another and problem-solving."

[...]

"Herndon, Va.: How do you account for the phenomenal explosion of interest in just one month, as attested by the more than 15,000 fans on Facebook?

"Annabel Park: The Facebook fan page captured the spirit of the time. Many of us had the same thought: the tactics being employed by the Tea Party movement are not likely to produce solutions to the problems that we face as a nation, and we urgently need an alternative.

"It's very hard to get people to rally around a new idea. But here I am reminding them of something that they already know: that we are all Americans. We should not divide ourselves over differences of opinion. We need to be one community. Our democracy is what unites us as a people. We must protect it, and to protect it we must engage in the political process, respecting the reality that we are diverse nation with diverse points of view.

[...]

"Oak Hill, Va.: Hi Annabel: In some respects I thought the article made too much of the 'similarities' between the Tea Party and the Coffee Party....could you give your perspective on the key differences? Thanks.

"Annabel Park: A key difference is in our emphasis on the democratic process, on respectful and civil engagement with one another and with our elected officials.

"In the current climate, too many Americans are afraid to participate, and find the process itself too alienating, because it is dominated by people with extreme opinions and extreme tactics.

"It's hard to speak up when others in the room are screaming.

"So in the end, we may want some of the same things, but we our hoping our journey getting there will be very different.

"Philadelphia, Pa.: Is the Coffee Party turning out to align to a specific party --Republican, Democrat, or another party -- or is it striving for non-partisanship?

"Annabel Park: We are purely grassroots movement, independent of any party, corporation, or lobbying organization. That is our strength and we plan to use it to facilitate a collaborative process that would encourage people to come together as a community, checking party affiliation at the door.

"Many of the people who have found refuge in the Coffee Party community are among the 53% of America who supported candidate Obama's vision for our nation's future. They are disconcerted by the vision that is being expressed through some of the Tea Party activities and some of their leaders' statements. But we do have a number of Republicans and many, many independents who reject what they see as the politics of division and obstructionism.

"Arlington, Va.: I disagree that the main problem is lack of consensus between the extremes of the left and right. I think the problem with the political process (and the reason for Americans' dissatisfaction) is the degree to which Congress passes bills to please large corporations, regardless of which politicians have been voted for. How does the Coffee Party deal with this fundamental problem?

"Annabel Park: We do feel like we need to make fundamental changes in our government's relationship to Wall Street and the corporations. We feel that the interests of ordinary Americans are not being represented well enough because we have a democracy with a loophole. The constituents that are most organized end up dominating the process, and corporations have the resources to pay thousands of lobbyists to spend their time influencing our government. This is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic.

"The only way to close the loophole is for voters rise to their civic duty. They have money, but we have the votes. No one gets elected without votes.'

"Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties."

Boy, that sure sounded like a political discussion with contrary views, didn't it?

I love that editor's note. No kidding? WaPO had editorial control over the discussion? Gee, do you think? I've heard more convincing questions from the shills at Obama's "town hall" meetings... "Do those mean old signs make you feel bad, Mr. Pwesident?" asks the child of an Obama campaign worker (and donor) in the Portsmouth "town hall." "How do kids know what’s true? I don't understand... Explain it to me, Mr. Pwesident. Pwetty Pwease..."

Park's discourse clearly betrays a few fundamental talking points being pushed by certain members of the Democratic Congress and various Left-leaning organizations such as the OFA, MediaMatters, etc.

First, that the Tea Party is made up of rabidly angry people. "A key difference [from the Tea Party] is in our emphasis on the democratic process, on respectful and civil engagement with one another and with our elected officials." Since this a "key difference," clearly Park see the Tea Party as engaging disrespectful and uncivil discourse.

Second, that the Tea Party hates the Federal government and that the belief that the Federal government is too large and ineffective necessarily equates to hostility toward it. From Park "I think if we examine the language that some in the Tea Party have been using, there are some things that are alienating to many of us in the Coffee Party: the extreme rhetoric, and the hostility toward the federal government." Park uses no examples, of course. Just voices the conviction that what she believes is so.

Third, that lobbyists and the spectre of evil but unspecified Wall Street corporations are ruining our democracy. "We do feel like we need to make fundamental changes in our government's relationship to Wall Street and the corporations. We feel that the interests of ordinary Americans are not being represented well enough because we have a democracy with a loophole. The constituents that are most organized end up dominating the process, and corporations have the resources to pay thousands of lobbyists to spend their time influencing our government. This is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic."

It really should come as no surprise then when it is revealed thatthe real Annabel Park is far from the mere hard-working, concerned citizen image that she cultivates and that the NYT and WaPo present. The fact is she's a campaign worker for Obama and other Dems and little else.

Although both the NYT and WaPo trumpeted Annabel Park as the founder of the Coffee Party via Facebook page, neither deigned it worthy to mention that Annabel Park is also rooted in Obama's United for Obama and other highly organized Left-leaning associations. Fortunately, Prof. William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection did a little research on his own.

From Jacobson:

"Park is a former Strategy Analyst at the NY Times who was one of organizers and operators of the United for Obama video channel at YouTube:

"'A Korean-American filmmaker is in charge of creating video clips that are playing a role in increasing support for Senator Barack Obama, the frontrunner for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.


"'"I found that people have little understanding of the change that Senator Barack Obama is advocating. I thought from my experience in using videos for civil movements that videos would be the best way to promote the need for change and for Obama. That's why I decided to work for the Obama campaign," Annabel Park said.

"'Joining the contest in December last year as chief of a promotional video team, Park has produced some 20 five-minute video clips which have generated a positive response. A clip interviewing actress Kelly Hu in support of the senator was viewed some 10,000 times, and a music video called "Oh Bama" drew wide attention. She has also produced Spanish-language videos to draw support from Hispanics.

"'The 40-year-old Park is leading an Obama promotional section on video-sharing site YouTube with around 10 other volunteers.'"

Huh... So an Obama campaign worker, who incidentally appears in the "Oh Bama" campaign video, is organizing a, in her own words, "purely grassroots movement, independent of any party, corporation, or lobbying organization." Is this a joke?

Park's call for unity are also rather hard to take. A few quotes from Park in both the WaPo Q&A and NYT article. as examples of her inclusiveness: "We have to sit down with people who identify with the Tea Party movement with the goal of reaching understanding." And "But here I am reminding them of something that they already know: that we are all Americans. We should not divide ourselves over differences of opinion. We need to be one community. Our democracy is what unites us as a people." And '"We’re not the opposite of the Tea Party. We’re a different model of civic participation, but in the end we may want some of the same things."

Now let's look at some of her Twitter messages (all of these are among those gathered at posted by Legal Insurrection): "we must deal with reality instead of indulging the paranoid fantasies of the #teaparty. join #coffeeparty" Or this one: "we're not going to take this tea crap anymore. let's work for change!" Or perhaps you might enjoy this one: "Stop the bad punditry! Stop reading tea leaves. We will overwhelm the polling stations in Nov. We want change! We want change!"

I guess this is indicative of Park's attempts to "facilitate informative and civil dialogue about issues that affect all of us, collectively. [emphasis mine]" Or perhaps this is her way of illustrating, by example, her contention that "[i]t's hard to speak up when others in the room are screaming." Especially when they're screaming via Twitter "We want change! We want change!"

Left Coast Rebel has more on Park's connection to the Democratic Party's campaign machine. From the blog:

"Jacobson broke Annabel’s association with United for Obama, but there are far more. According to the Washington Post in 2008, she started by campaigning for Democrat Senator James Webb in 2006. Since then, she has been associated with a large number of leftist groups including, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, Asian Americans for Obama, and she started the 121 Coalition. If you include her friend Eric Byler, co-director with Annabel of '9500 Liberty' a Michael Moore-esk liberal documentary, you can add in APA Five and Asian-Nation.org. Eric Byler also did the filming for the Coffee Party’s homepage video. Both Annabel and Eric recently did a workshop for the APA Five on community activism. Perhaps, there was something already in the works?

"As has been pointed out by many today, Annabel also has a large number of MSM contacts. She previously worked as a Strategy Analyst for the NY Times and has been interviewed a number of times prior to the Coffee Party’s break out Washington Post article. Here is Annabel being interviewed in the Washington Post in 2008. Here she is with Anderson Cooper of CNN."

So how many Tea Party members were interviewed in 2007 by Anderson Cooper? How many have their picture taken with Obama (pic available at Left Coast Rebel post)? Grassroots... Yeah, right...

The "Coffee Party" is the very definition of AstroTurf. It doesn't stand up even under casual scrutiny. Annabel Park is a professional campaigner and a standard Leftist shill/activist. This is apparent in with the smallest amount of digging-- digging which The New York Times and Washington Post seem unwilling to do as they trumpet Ms. Park and give her forums to spread her message. Of course, they seemed rather unwilling to do that with the Tea Party as Frank Ross points out.

Know the truth.

4 comments:

  1. This is an awesome post. I love the way you think--you break things down and analyze them minutely. I admire that very much.

    This thing is pretty much already dead. Even if not exposed for a complete astroturf job, there is nothing to keep them going, no motivation or "fire" for anything positive they can believe in (as we have).

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  2. I'd like to believe that, but the Coffee Party has something the Tea Party does not have-- a sympathetic media.

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  3. Thanks for the comments and the link to Left Coast Rebel. Great synopsis on these guys.

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  4. When I pulled up your page, I saw a "Wake up, smell the coffee" ad by Google. LOL

    Grassroots campaign, my foot. I'm sticking with tea.

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