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Coffee Summits, not Coffee Parties

By now you’ve probably heard about the Coffee Party.

The Coffee Party: Drink more caffeine to be half as angry and twice as ineffectual as the Tea Party.

The Coffee Party bills itself as a spontaneous grassroots alternative to the tea party, one not tied to any hyper-partisan or corporate agenda. In actuality, it behaves more like an unofficial extension of the Obama permanent campaign. The only call to actual “action” seems to be for the Waiting-on-the-World-to-Change Generation to lament over lattes, sharing their exasperation at how the unwashed masses have been astroturfed to obstruct poor President Obama from carrying out his noble vision of bipartisan, pluralist kumbayah.

From CNN:

Meet these members of the Coffee Party Movement, an organically grown, freshly brewed push that’s marking its official kickoff Saturday. Across the country, even around the globe, they and other Americans in at least several hundred communities are expected to gather in coffeehouses to raise their mugs of java to something new.

They’re professionals, musicians and housewives. They’re frustrated liberal activists, disheartened conservatives and political newborns. They’re young and old, rich and poor, black, white and all shades of other.

Born on Facebook just six weeks ago, the group boasts more than 110,000 fans, as of Friday morning. The Coffee Party is billed by many as an answer to the Tea Party (more than 1,000 fewer fans), a year-old protest movement that’s steeped in fiscal conservatism and boiling-hot, anti-tax rhetoric.

This new group calls for civility, objects to obstructionism and demands that politicians be held accountable to the people who put them in office.

The New York Times ran an earlier fluff piece about the Coffee Party last week:

Eileen Cabiling, who founded the Los Angeles chapter, said she had campaigned for President Obama, but paid little attention to politics until the Tea Party convention and Mr. Obama’s State of the Union speech, where he rebuked Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike for their inability to move on legislation.

“I had withdrawn in campaign fatigue,” Ms. Cabiling said. “I was like, what happened?”


“This is about recognizing that the government represents us,” Ms. Cabiling said, “so we need to step to the plate and start having a voice and start acting like bosses.”

This sounds like 2008 all over again. In other words, they are the ones they have been brewing for.

Recognizing that “the government is us” is instructive, but somehow Ms. Cabiling’s comments remind me less of returning government to We-the-People and more of the creative classs self-indulgence that leads to declarations such as “Out with Bubbas, Up with Creatives.”

What seems to drive today’s progressives is where they perceive themselves in relation to the Bubbas. In Obama, the creative class saw an opportunity to be the bosses–many declaring in 2008 that for the first time they felt engaged in the political process. Once Obama won the election, their motivation was gone. They were now the bosses they had waited for, or so they thought. Politics became boring again, onto the next reality show. Obama’s lack of leadership and his continuation of Bush policies were not enough to get his supporters out of their “campaign fatigue.” It took the tea party’s opposition to Obama to get the Obama partisans to realize that they were not quite as in control of the situation as they thought they were. Now they want to “wake up and stand up” just enough to regain their perception of themselves as bosses. Demanding for accountability of our elected officials seems to be an afterthought.

Even if it is not a propaganda arm or a gimmick, the coffee party is a response to the Tea Party, and therein lies the problem.

In terms of where we as liberals need to be focusing our response, the Tea Party is neither here nor there.

Jumper Cables = Critical Thinking

The Tea Party isn’t the one who claimed to be a proponent of single-payer universal healthcare in 2003…

…then campaigned for a public option and against a mandate in 2008…

…only to assume the American presidency and reverse his already half-baked recipe into the ultimate shit sandwich–a mandate without a public option.

It wasn’t the Tea Party protests that brought the public option down, either. The public option has remained popular, if vaguely defined, among voters.

The Tea Party is beside the point.

Bill Clinton nailed it not too long ago when he was campaigning for Martha Coakley in Massachusetts:

You need to take that tea party label back. (Applause and cheers) The tea party–(Applause continues)–you know all this tea party protest, the whole idea behind it is that government is inherently corrupt and bad and confused, right–and, the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against government. That is not true–the Boston Tea Party was a revolt against abuse of power–taxation without representation, taking the autonomy away from the Massachusetts Bay Company and the local governments. You had a very vigorous government at the time of the Boston Tea Party. The people believed in it, they participated in it, and they thought the purpose of the government was to advance the common good. –Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton has a knack for getting to the heart of the matter. (Ironically, Martha Coakley lost because she was unable to fight the abuse of power within her own party.)

Neither the Tea Party nor the Coffee Party are responding to the root issue. The Tea Party is a vehicle for absorbing catch-all populist anger into the GOP brand. The coffee response to the tea party is likewise a vehicle for preserving the Obama brand. Neither “party” has a larger purpose other than keeping each side involved in an imaginary contest where each tribe wants to be the boss of the other tribe. When you take away the superficial rhetoric about the role of government on both sides, what remains are taunts that either you’re a socialist or you’re a teabagger. These faux movements exploit real voter backlash at Washington and serve to keep the electorate divided and busy bashing each other at the rank-and-file level rather than collectively pushing back on the oligarchy.

What is missing right now is a mobilized response not to each other but to abuse of power, specifically a response in the form of advocacy for the working/middle class. I’m often reminded of FDR’s economic bill of rights:

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security.

I’m also reminded of this clip from Meet the Press:

SEC’Y CLINTON: Well, I absolutely would look forward to having coffee. I’ve never met her.


But, you know, I’m ready to have a cup of coffee. Maybe I can make a case on some of the issues that we disagree on.

MR. GREGORY: So maybe there’s a summit meeting here.

Tea and Coffee parties are echo chambers.

What we really need are more coffee summits, so to speak, where competing ideas are put forward as to how we can turn FDR’s economic bill of rights into a reality.

90 Responses

  1. The Coffee Party is such a hilarious non-story. I think CNN is pushing this because the Tea Party hates them so much after that incident with one of their reporters.

    • Coffee Party miniphenomenon
      By: Michael Barone
      Senior Political Analyst
      03/13/10 2:56 PM EST

      While traveling by air across the country last week, I had occasion to work in an airport lounge which had CNN on the television. During a little more than an hour, the announcer screened videos of two pro-Democratic ads and ran a story on the so-called coffee party movement, formed by a few liberals sympathetic to Democratic policies. It would be interesting to know how much coverage CNN has given to the tea party movement, which has brought something on the order of 1 million people into its gatherings over the past year; more than the coffee party group, I suspect, but perhaps not all that much more. And how is the coffee party movement. Gateway Pundit has answer. On Wednesday, the day of Barack Obama’s appearance in St. Louis, 2,225 showed up for a tea party rally in St. Charles County and 2,300 participated in a protest outside a Democratic fundraiser in downtown St. Louis. In contrast, 30 people attended a coffee party gathering in St. Louis on Saturday.

      The numbers tell you something. Something that the CNN producers might want to take note of.

      • I also saw today that a reporter went to a cafe in DC where coffee party people were suppose to meet. He said 5 people were at the table.

        Tea party rally in Minnesota today–several thousand.

        I’m not surprised, but remember all the bragging about the extensive email list and all the obots that were suppose to be standing ready to rallyi. The WH has (maybe it’s been scubbed) a website where you can go and get “refreshed” o how to call radio talk shows and push the hc bill.

        These people have fizzled on all fronts.

  2. Coffee Party = latte sipping faux-liberals.

    • It’s just amazing to me that folks can get taken in by these astroturf roots projects. Follow the Money. If people funding this stuff are the same folks you’re railing against, you need a serious physical. Your senses are disconnected from your brain.

    • Bingo.
      What we need is less cheez, less whine, and fewer Starbucks fueled latte guzzling, blinkered, bamboozled people.

    • Well principles are for selfish people after all… at least they have a 1000 more fans on facebook.

      • Ollie the Obot says “You’re racist!”

        • Ollie needs to get some new material.

          Frankly, his fits and vapor attack because everyone isn’t in agreement on what should and shouldn’t be compromised is unseemly and reminiscent of Frist when he finally discovered that Reid wasn’t a complete invertabrae. I wonder if everytime there is a lively conversation on what was promised and what is being delivered there is going to need to be someone available with the smelling salts for poor Oliver. His delicate constitution should preclude him from speaking as a negotiator on behalf of the left in my opinion.

    • The only thing I can think of is “alienation.” They’re like these overgrown shallow twits looking for “meaning” in their lives. They’ve tried Whole Foods and PBR and consumerism, but it’s not enough. They just feel empty inside. So–politics, Oprah and Obama style. They’re too lazy to actually want to put all that leisure time to good use, but cheaply investing in a righteous self-image on the cheap? They can do that. Single payer? Ewww. An alternative toothless plan is good enough for the undeserving lumpen–especially if grandpa owns an insurance company and there’s money to be made.

  3. It’s like “The Sting”

  4. I saw the woman who founded the “Coffee Party” on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago. She was a former Obama campaign worker. Everything out of her mouth was an Obamabot talking point. This is another phony Obama movement parading as grassroots.

  5. “phony Obama movement” is redundant.

  6. The Coffee Party — using “half and half”

  7. Nice post WtV. I agree. It seems that the faux-progressive obot/failbots have decided to demonstrate that they can be just as vapid as the other side. And neither side is getting to anything real. It’s a sad game where each side makes lots of noise while the thieves run out the back door with all the cash. Idiots.

    • Thanks and yep, thieves running out the back door.

      Sort of ties into the abortion issue–another illusion that Ds and Rs are working against each other when really they’re working together to keep people distracted. I’m not a single issue voter, but with the current lot of coathanger Dems, I’d sooner vote solely on the economy than on abortion at this point.

  8. Well said, Wonk.

    “All of these rights spell security.” FDR got that a nation in which the people feel secure is the basis for a strong and vital nation. It’s insecurity that drives people to think that they have got to get their piece of the pie before someone else does. It’s insecurity that drives the current job market. Some corporations feed on insecurity as a marketing device to get people to buy, own consume. Insecurity gets a pitiful health care plan at any cost.

    I don’t need to say that Hillary’s solutions for America were not based on insecurity or on viewing her as the great wonder who would pay your mortgage.

    “What we really need are more coffee summits, so to speak, where competing ideas are put forward as to how we can turn FDR’s economic bill of rights into a reality.” It’s a start.

  9. This is a good post. A sense of ‘fight the power!’ let alone abuse of power certainly does not jive with today’s generation, who studies its manifestations in history but has little idea what to do with the idea today.

    Also, silly coffee party: tea naturally has more caffeine than coffee.

  10. Great post WtV!

    Circle jerk…ha ha ha.dosen’t it creep you out when he does his little mini striptease? Yuck!

  11. From True Liberal Nexus:

    Just before New Years of 2009, the progressive PAC, MoveOn, took a poll. Eagerly awaiting the inauguration of the man they had worked so hard to elect, who they were certain would usher in an era of miraculous Change in America, MoveOn asked its five million members to select the four top goals for the obama administration. Here’s what they came up with:

    #1 Universal Health Care

    #2 Economic Recovery and Job Creation

    #3 Build a Green Economy / Stop Climate Change

    #4 End the War in Iraq

    That’s what’s ya call an 0-fer.

    • that’s amazingly spot on! They must’ve hacked the computer program that writes hollywood scripts these days.

    • hahahahaha….

      On another note, I don’t fault young people doing a coffee party. I don’t think its bad to have young people politically involved. I do, however, want to see more truth in reporting and less political sports casting. I don’t fault people wanting to be in a tea party either. These are representative of the fault lines in our culture right now. What does not seem to get enough attention is the corporatization of government. Maybe because it seems so very huge – we are powerless. and much of it is hidden often within complexity so simple truths are nearly impossible to know.

  12. Great post! From my point of view I’m tired of both parties, Democratic and Republican, manipulating me…..I think I smell another manipulation. Coffee or Tea? I may stick to plain clear water. At least I can have it tested to know what’s in it!

  13. Breaking my newsfast to say…… Howard Stern has apparently turned against the Obamacrats:


    Back to lurking…

    • That’s from a while ago when the Democratic members of the FCC panel were blocking the Sirius/XM merger and Kerry was on the side of those trying to block the merger. That clip is not related to his feelings about Obama in any way shape or form.

      • Good to know.

        It was apparently taken out of context where I first saw it?

        So how long has Stern been anti-Dem?

        • He’s not anti-Dem. He was a big Hillary supporter.

          • I’ve said before that I really don’t give a fuck what celebrities think. Their opinions are no better than anyone else’s and frequently are worth a lot less.

          • The only problem is when those celebrities have a microphone and significant reach to easily malleable audiences. Sternophiles often consider his word gospel, even though he ridicules them for taking him seriously

  14. SSDD:

    Former Air Force sergeant Jene (jeh-NAY’) Newsome says she played by the rules. She never told anyone in the military that she was a lesbian.

    But Newsome was discharged earlier this year under the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” law after Rapid City, S.D., police officers saw an Iowa marriage license in her home and told the Ellsworth Air Force Base.

    So much for Obama being a “fierce advocate” for LGBT rights.

    • myiq,

      I’m so glad you’re back!

    • Technically, she didn’t tell anyone though. Wtf were police in her home for?

      • Okay, I read the link, but it still sounds like an absurd application of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule since their relationship was irrelevant to the arrest warrant.

    • What do you mean?, he’s the lightbringer. Everything is going to be better when he’s president. There will be no more sexism, racism, homophobia and everyone will have equal rights and full opportunities. Where have you been? /snark

    • One more added to the list of broken promises.

      NQ posted a funny and true video yesterday: “The Great Reneger”

  15. It might be said that a true liberal does not do Starbucks; the true liberal brand is more likely Peet’s—at least their beans are not over roasted. Frankly, I hope the Ds and Rs all wind up destroying each other; maybe we can build something out of the ashes.

    I find myself in that strange political bedfellow place. I hope that Stupak stands his ground and kills the bill even tho’ it would be over an issue and a position I abhor.

    • I know there’s a coffee enema joke for this topic, I just can’t compose it.

      • oh gawd yes. The Martha’s Vineyard diet. How appropriate for the latte-sipping bunch that indulges in that fad.

        • Have you read this yet?

          In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society — whether it’s General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media — has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.

          Read more: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1971133_1971110_1971117,00.html#ixzz0i6eY4rG4

    • It’s Dean’s Beans in New England.

  16. One happy event today—I ordered my IPad. Hope that turns out well since most other stuff does not.

  17. BB: Hope you are managing ok. Sending you hugs.

    • Thanks, jangles. I doing OK. I’m pretty much packed and ready to leave in the morning. Our weather is pretty bad though.

      • Please be safe on the drive and call me if you’re in a particularly dismal part of the drive and need to talk!!!

      • I’m getting visions of the Ohio Turnpike and the Indiana Toll Road, which I traveled on for years between Indiana and New Jersey, when I didn’t fly. You may swing farther south though. Have a safe trip.

  18. *sighs happily* Put just excellently, Wonk. Besides being a supergenius, you have an amazing way with words. 🙂

  19. I’m so tired of people whose politics I detest co-opting things I love.

    So, quick, before anyone else takes it: I’m starting the Hot Chocolate Party. We have no political affiliation. We have no illusions that we can influence any of the asswipes in office. We are only in it for the serotonin and dopamine, of which we seem to need more and more these days.

    • How about the Smoothie party? It may not taste very good, it may take some effort to choke it down, but we’ve pumped it full of substantive, necessary ingredients and, unlitmately, It’s much better than empty calories.

    • I’ll take the Chicken Soup Party. I’m pretty sick of it all.

    • I formally declare myself a member of the WYSIWYG party.

    • I thought there was a hot cocoa party. Maybe it was coca puffs!

      • I declared a hot chocolate party on here a couple weeks ago…principles before marshmallows. 😉

        • We are diverse — whipped cream, cinnamon, mint-flavored, soy, or straight-up old-fashioned.

          We are 100% weedroots. No astroturf Obama-campaigning former New York Times employees in the Cocoa Movement, no sirree! No grassroots racist fascist redneck Neanderthal Teabaggers either! And no hyper-partisan strategists calling the shots in this movement. We are a spontaneous and collective expression of our desire to forge a culture of ludicrous propaganda that is entirely blame-oriented.

          We demand a government that responds to the needs of the majority of its hot beverage drinkers as expressed by our choice of mugs or cups; NOT corporate interests as expressed by misleading coffee advertisements posing as legitimate journalism!

          We want a society in which hot cocoa is treated as sacrosanct and ordinary citizens drink it out of a sense of civic duty, civic pride, and a desire to taste something delicious. The Cocoa Party is a call to action. Our Founding Fathers and Mothers gave us an enduring gift — chocolate — and we must drink it to meet the challenges that we face as a nation.

    • I’ll join that.

  20. There’s a political discussion group in my town that’s been meeting in a coffee bar for a year now. I was invited by a friend and went a few times until I realized they were hopeless Obots. I mean, they are as ridiculous as the Republicans who won’t admit that GWB sucked. Although I stopped going, I’m still on their mailing list and had to smirk the other day when I saw that the leader described his latest project as “helping to give birth to the Coffee Party Movement.” No thank you.

    • They gave birth to something alright.

    • Give birth to? Is that like how Obama and the Dems are helping to give birth to a health insurance scam?

    • Not every function that involves something coming out of your body is the same as “giving birth”. I think there may be other analogies that would work better here that happen in roughly the same region.

  21. Oh no!

    • ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the new world of Citizens United via SCOTUS.

      • You got that right. This is only the beginning of the end.

      • wow. wow. wow.

        offensive on so many levels, starting with the misogynist “IT” persona.

        as a PUMA, i’ve become comfortable with the “strange bedfellows” strategy, and i’ve looked at carly florina with interest and occasional admiration. not any more, if she paid for this piece o’ shite.

        another thought: yes, produced like a blockbuster film, but we grassroots folks with design and video editing talent, some software and RAM, can put something together of the same “production values” if we chose to get together and do so.

  22. Great post Wonk…all the juicy video embedded to make your points….just frackin’ well crafted.

    One of my friends send me an email about the coffee parties…I just snorted into my morning coffee I was drinking and hit the delete button.

  23. Funny how this litle grass roots thing gets national and local coverage so easily…almost like an astroturf operation, huh?

    Yes, and little Annabel Park, just a concerned citizen…LOL.

  24. WTV; Great post. Spot on analysis like always.

    I prefer the Patron party, with lime and a bit of salt. Or without, it’s all good.

  25. Great post Wonk. Thanks also for including FDR’s economic bill of rights. Good for the spirit.

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