On the Coffee Party (Updated)

Much ado has been generated by this new political phenomenon known as the “Coffee Party.” The Coffee Party is presenting itself as some kind of grassroots, genuine , common-sense response to the hatred, venom, and racism that form the core of liberals attempt to find in the Tea Party. In reality, it is an astroturf pseudo-movement created by an Obama supporter, dedicated to, well, supporting Obama, which has very little real participation but lots and lots of media hype.

The conservative blogosphere has been following this faux movement for some time, so there’s plenty of stuff to look at.

Way back in February, Nice Deb presented us with a list of fake Tea Party imitator groups on the left, which presumably were attempting to capitalize on the genuine grass-roots nature and organization of the Tea Party to get support for their own agenda. Most of these groups were instantly recognized as ridiculous, and haven’t been heard from much since. The “Cocktail Party” movement doesn’t seem to be gaining much ground — I wonder if it’s because the very name evokes the elitist, aristocratic mentality that the Tea Party is rising up against?

At the very end of her list, Deb amends a mention of the emerging Coffee Party, which presents itself from the very beginning in a kind of feel-good progressive manner, but with no real substance other than “The Tea Party is bad, and we’re nice, so come play with us.” This first real peek at the Coffee Party comes compliments of Hot Air:

I’ve read the WaPo profile, looked at their website, watched the two videos below, and I still don’t quite get it. They’re claiming, essentially, to be nonpartisan and less interested in pushing particular policies than in “dialogue” and “cooperation” for their own sake. Which, given the realities in the Senate, is a very thinly veiled way of calling for fewer filibusters and more Democratic — sorry, I mean bipartisan — legislation. Here’s their statement of principles, for what it’s worth; assuming they stick around, it’ll be fun to watch how this changes once the GOP has a majority in both chambers again.

We want the political process broken down into three steps:
1) open and respectful dialogue
2) thoughtful and informed deliberation
3) competent and decisive execution.

The process is so broken, we can’t get past step 1 right now. We demand cooperation, productivity and accountability in government in the same way we would demand it of an employee we might hire for a job.

We want local chapters to have the autonomy to figure out their own legislative and electoral priorities. At the national level, we’ll make recommendations for direct action on legislation. But they will only be suggestions. We value and celebrate diverse opinions just as we value and celebrate diverse backgrounds. All that is required to be part of this movement is a sincere commitment to participating in, and protecting the democratic process.

A friendly reminder from George Will: The American democratic process, especially in the Senate, includes the right to obstruct. Right, Mr. President? Exit quotation from the WaPo piece: “I don’t really understand what they’re about other than ‘we don’t like the Tea Party’ and ‘we’re for a better process.’”

Yes, the vague idealism that inflicted the Obama presidency upon us will now result in the Coffee Party, which stands bravely for, um, being nice, and um, not being Teabaggers, and well, um, carefully deliberation of the sweeping legislation that they seem to want rammed down the throats of the American people at any cost.

So far, we’ve established that the Coffee Party is the bastion of sensibility, and is willing to stand for its principles of, um, well, whatever they stand for, against the evil, racist, hateful bigotry of the Tea Party. Got it?

Moonbattery then dips into the fray:

Sooner or later, there had to be a liberal-progressive response to the Tea Party movement that wasn’t exactly an astroturf affair. Now we have the Coffee Party.

The ideas aren’t exactly fresh — Tea Party chapters view themselves as civil, inclusive and fueled by collective will — but the Coffee Party is percolating in at least 30 states. Small chapters are meeting up, venting frustrations, organizing themselves, hoping to transcend one-click activism. Kind of like the Tea Party did this last year, spawning 1,200 chapters, a national conference and a march on Washington.

Of course, everyone knows that coffee has much more of a stimulative effect on the GI tract than does tea. Therefore I’m sure we can expect to see even more stunning, high-velocity crap from the loony Newspeak left once this movement spreads through coffee houses on the blue coasts.

It’s not exactly clear what the difference is between these Coffee Parties and the Cocktail Party movement, which is coming to a bath house near you. The latter group may simply not need coffee to achieve the same violent, stimulative effect.

No, it’s not quite clear what the difference is between the Coffee Party and the Cocktail Party, except perhaps that the founders of the Coffee Party wanted to present a less nonsense-filled name. I mean come on, we’re representing the common people! What’s more common-people than a cup of joe?

Donald Douglas at American Power takes note about the same time, and looks at how the Coffee Party represents themselves in the video above:

[T]his woman, Annabel Park, a recent Korean immigrant, puts a kinda every-woman gloss on the Joan Walsh-Keith Olbermann-Janeane Garofalo “racist tea-bagger” smears we’ve been hearing for a year now. Indeed, it’s offensive to hear her basically allege that tea partiers reject diversity. Olbermann’s already been hammered from all quarters for his idiot rant a couple of weeks ago. Frankly, we’d see more diversity on the conservative right except for the victimology stranglehold that’s inculcating a grievance ideology and cultist politics among minority communities today. And when minorities break out of that death-grip, they’re branded as racist “minority front groups” for the hegemonic white supremacist power structure. It’s pretty contorted, but listen to Miss Park sing it! She hits all the right notes about the left’s “reality-based” program and she excoriates the “extremist” politics of the tea partiers.

By early March, the truth had already come out. It seems that the nice lady in the Coffee Party video, who is so devoted to starting a genuine grassroots movement in order to foster civil dialogue, is a shill for the Obama Administration. After an exhaustive background check that involved a brief Google search, William Jacobson at Legal Insurrection discovered that Annabel Park, the nice lady in the video, had worked aggressively to support the Obama campaign, and was also employed by the New York Times, which so generously (and uncritically) covered the Coffee Party:

The Coffee Party is a political parasite which presents itself as something it is not. As reported in the NY Times [see update below], Park presents herself as not hostile to the Tea Party movement, and in fact, hopes to bring some Tea Partiers into her group …

In fact, a simple internet search (which the NY Times apparently is not capable of doing) reveals that Park organized the Coffee Party for the specific purpose of undermining the Tea Party movement.

Park is a former Strategy Analyst [Park's Linked In page has been taken down, here is a cached link] at the NY Times who was one of organizers and operators of the United for Obama video channel at YouTube

Moonbattery jumped on this, as did Donald Douglas and the Left Coast Rebel, and Nice Deb did a little more looking:

Annabel Park was also part of a pro-illegal immigration YouTube project in 2008:

Filmmakers Eric Byler, Annabel Park, and Jeff Man run “9500Liberty”, a pro-illegal immigration online documentary project discussing issues in northern Virginia (youtube.com/user/9500Liberty). In the past they’ve resorted to re-re-re-repurposing supposedly controversial comments from an older white gentleman in an attempt to racially demagogue the issue, but now they’re back with a new video called “IMMIGRATION Crackdown HURTS Our Economy”

The website for 9500Liberty is here.

So much for decrying the extremist politics of the Tea Party. And so much for that genuine uprising from the grassroots.

John Hawkins at Right Wing News started to address the disproportionate media coverage over the emerging Coffee Party movement at about this time:

Know what it reminds me of? The tidal wave of positive press Air America received from the MSM when they debuted. There were lots of successful conservative talk show hosts, but when Air America arrived on the scene, suddenly liberal reporters got interested — not in the successful, thriving conservative talk shows, but in the 3rd rate knock-off liberal version. Of course, in the end, all that great publicity didn’t save them from bankruptcy. Moreover, if Air America is 3rd rate, the Coffee Party is about 8th rate. They’ve got 40,000 fans on Facebook? Wow, that’s really impressive considering the size of some of the other groups out there. For example, the “I Dont care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumb@ss” group currently has 1,343,653 fans.

By Mid-March, Todd Warner Houston, also at Right Wing News, discussed his own experience with the astroturfing tactics of the Coffee Party:

Today I received this email alerting me to a “coffee party” kick-off event being held in Chicago where a local Chicagoan that stumbled upon the thing even admits openly that it isn’t being run by anyone local. In his personal email meant to drum up local support for this astroturf effort, the emailer (whose name I will not release) says, “Clearly, this organization is not led by someone from Chicago.” Why? Because the first event was planned to be held during the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade one of City’s biggest local party days. As the emailer scoffs, “Otherwise they would know that we’d all be at a huge parade on this day and instead of drinking coffee we’d be drinking green beer.”

As the emailer says, it is plain that no one from Chicago is actually part of this faux grass roots “coffee party” business or they’d have chosen a different day to try to kick-off their thingamajig. Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the biggest city wide party days of the year and no one will be much interested in politics that day, for sure!

In all this is a classic example of outsiders, a perfect example of astroturf. Will the Old Media take notice?

Text of the email:

From: XXX XXX
Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 01:43 PM
To: ‘XXX XXX’
Subject: Coffee Party USA Kick-Off – Saturday, March 13

Friends and Colleagues (some of you may receive this email twice – my apologies),

I hope you all can join me at the Coffee Party USA kick-off on Saturday, March 13 at Charmers Cafe, 1500 W. Jarvis in Rogers Park – 10:30 AM. Clearly, this organization is not led by someone from Chicago. Otherwise they would know that we’d all be at a huge parade on this day and instead of drinking coffee we’d be drinking green beer.

So, let’s compromise… after a cup of coffee and civil dialogue on the important political issues in our communities we will go next door for one of those beers at the Poitin Stil – a quaint Irish Bar.

If you can’t make the coffee party at Charmers Cafe, join us for beers at xxxxxxxx.(ed: I excise this bit so as not to help them advertise their coffee party event)

The Mission of Coffee Party USA is to give voice to Americans who want cooperation in government and bring civility and open discussion to the national political debates that are dividing our communities and our country.

I have attached the press release and poster for this event. Below is an excerpt from the press release:

The Coffee Party movement gives voice to Americans who want to see cooperation in government, and welcomes everyone to the table. “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,” said Annabel Park, the founder of Coffee Party USA.

Call if you have questions:
(xxx) xxx.xxx

Yep, classic astroturf.

So the guy sending the e-mail admits that the Chicago Coffee Party fiesta was not organized by anyone from Chicago, while in the same e-mail quoting the founder, who actively campaigned for Obama, saying that the movement is true grassroots and has no partisan agenda. Hrm. Perhaps “partisan” and “grassroots” don’t mean what I think they mean.

But the Coffee Party moved forward, and held nation-wide rallies with a huge turnout. As we used to say in the ’90s: “Not.”

Nice Deb documents the Fail:

BIG FAIL. St. Louis Libs Hold Coffee Party – 30 People Show Up

and

Low-key java drinkers in Washington kick off Coffee Parties (” Low key” – the Daily caller was too nice to note that only five people showed up).

This after being heavily promoted  and propped up by The Washington Post, New York Times, and CNN.

As Mike Hendrix points out: Coffee Deceivers: Soros-funded Astroturf Obamacommie morons fooling no one

So does Donald Douglas at American Power:

Yesterday was supposed to be the big break-out day for the “coffee party” movement. Recall Annabel Park, the sleazy Obamabot who launched this nouveau initiative to mimic the success of the conservative tea parties. Well, so far we’ve got reports of at most dozens of people who’ve made it out to “coffee party” rallies around the nation.

A turnout of about 30 people is trumpeted as a huge success in Richmond, Virginia: “Richmond Coffee Party Kickoff a Success!“:

Douglas highlights how the sad turnout for the Coffee Party is being spun as a huge success:

From Annabel Park’s interview at 538:

Do you think Washington Democrats are taking you seriously?

I think last Saturday was a turning point because we had over 350 parties across the country with thousands attending. There were events in nearly every state including Wasilla, Alaska. These are real people and our movement is real. They also need to know that we are not getting to just talk. We are going to fight for representation.

Right.

I followed the “coffee parties” over the weekend, and at most we saw maybe 40 people turn out for any individual event.

Check the rest of the interview. As we’ve seen so many times, grassroots protests is only legit if you’re a leftist.

Gregory of Yardale at Moonbattery also notices that the media seem obsessed with the epic importance of the tiny Coffee Party turnout, while ignoring the substantial numbers of the Tea Party:

In Missouri this weekend, nearly 5,000 Tea Party Patriots showed up at two separate events to protest against Big Socialist Government. Around 2,000 showed up for an Anti-ObamaCare Rally in Minnesota, led by Representative Michele Bachman… the foster mother who is hated by the left with the white-hot heat of a thousand suns.

Meanwhile, about the media-hyped “Coffee Party” movement, created by pro-Obama activists to counter the Tea Party movement… attracted about two dozen people to a restaurant in Saint Louis. I imagine they sipped coffee, whined about their unwillingness to take personal responsibility for their lives, and waxed excitedly about Twilight and Ugly Betty.

Canada Free Press took notice of the dismal Coffee Party turnout:

The weekend of March 13 and 14, 2010 was hailed as the kick-off time for Coffee Parties all across the country which were billed as “the liberal response to the Tea Party movement”  as reported by Alex Pappas in the The Daily Caller,  dated 03/13/10 in an article titled: “Low-key java drinkers in Washington kick off Coffee Parties.

<snip>

The aforementioned Alex Pappas was a bit more successful in his search for the Coffee Party merry-makers in Washington, DC when at the Peregrine Espresso of the Eastern Market area he found “a small gathering of five activists huddled at a small table.”

The five present consisted of a woman professor on sabbatical from Berkeley, two younger college buddies, and the two others who said they “learned about the gathering from Twitter and from word of mouth.”

Lee Doren at Right Wings News brings us a video from a Coffee Party therapy session political meeting:

Neal Boortz comments on how the Coffee Party’s agenda seems to be one of majority rule and pandering — well, that sounds about par for the left, doesn’t it?

John Hawkins manages to get some lulz in, with a list of the top ten rules for the Coffee Party.

Donald Douglas has more, and even mentions yours truly at my humble blog! (Sorry, but I get totally stoked when the Big Boy Blogs notice me!)

So there’s the basic history of the Coffee Party. It was established by an Obama campaigner who worked for the New York Times, opposes the Tea Party without any clearly articulated reason why, or what it does stand for, and has almost no appeal to actual participants. Yet despite that, it represents itself as a grassroots, nonpartisan movement, seeking to establish a civil dialogue, and is receiving massive amounts of media attention. This movement is nothing but a propaganda tool for the left, which can only gets its agenda passed by misrepresenting itself. Look for it to get continuous media coverage, look for its origins and astroturfing nature to be ignored, and look for it to be presented as more legitimate than the Tea Party, which has already been largely swept under the rug by the media.

*Updated 16 Mar 2010 11:13*

Some of the folks over at American Thinker have caught on to the latest media hype over the Coffee Party.

S. Fowler comments on the extremely low turnout that somehow resulted in a major media success:

If you were to define success by evaluating the Coffee Party by their stated goal, creating a grassroots movement that rivals the Tea Party, then the event was an abysmal failure.  The fact that the group is heralding the number of venues as opposed to the number of participants is an indication that the movement is in full fledged damage control.  I reviewed the turnout of some of the Coffee Party USA’s largest reported chapters and found the numbers to be anemically small.  Atlanta boasts 164 members and 5 showed up, Boston has 145, but 13 made an appearance, and one of the largest groups, Chicago with 181, in turn had one of the largest turnouts, 28.

If you were to give the Coffee Party a generous showing of 15 members for each of the 350 coffee parties that occurred, you would have 5,250 in attendance, nationally.  Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit compares the national Coffee Party movement to a single Tea Party event in St. Charles Missouri where 2,225 turned out on short notice for a “Kill the Bill” rally and only 600 were expected.  When comparing the two movements there is no disputing that the Tea Party has far greater numbers and far more energy than the Coffee Party and March 13th proved it.

Of course, the Coffee Party’s actual goal is not the same as their stated goal.  The purpose of any Astroturf organization is to create in media perception what is lacking in actual substance.  It isn’t about creating an actual count of members as energetic and numerous as the Tea Party, but to make people think that the Coffee Party is the Tea Party’s rival.  By this measure, the group has been largely successful.  I’ve already mentioned the Coffee Party’s favorable coverage in the large media outlets, but local coverage prior to the event was also as extensive and as adoring.  Here is the Charlotte Observer, coverage in Dallas, and publicity in the Seattle Times.  A google search of the news reveals a massive outpouring of local media.  It makes the Coffee Party’s failure more epic, but their success more infamous.

Thomas Lifson also weighs in on the assistance that the mainstream media, which was silent as the Tea Party took the country by storm, is giving the Coffee Party:

Professional leftists, who assert that they speak for the people, just hate it when the people manage to organize themselves to speak out against the Left, as in the prairie-fire spread of the Tea Parties. Something had to be done, and in this case, “something” meant creating the Coffee Party movement.

Of course, last spring, leftists like Nancy Pelosi were charging that Tea Parties were an Astroturf operation — not a grassroots phenomenon, but something manufactured by the dark forces of the GOP. At best, this was nothing but sheer projection, a reflection of the mastery of Astroturfing by David Axelrod and many others on the professional left, and the assumption that Republicans would operate the same way. At worst, it was a deliberate exercise in the technique of the Big Lie.

Unlike the early Tea Party movement, the Coffee Party already has gotten an awful lot of favorable attention from the liberal media, especially given that it has no real message or track record. None of the supposed non-ideological spontaneity of the Coffee Party adds up.

The Coffee Party will be the biggest left-wing media scam since anthropogenic global warming. I would speculate that it may be of some use if it could be forced into a third-party position and divide the Democratic vote, but given the groupthink of the left, I doubt that will have much chance.

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  1. #1 by Americaneocon on Mon 15 Mar 2010 - 14:38

    American Power tracked-back with, ‘The Coffee Party War!’.

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