- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Astroturf tea?

Liberals in the blogosphere and beyond have been quick to label Wednesday's upcoming taxpayer “Tea Party” protests as the product of imposter campaigns coordinated by Republican billionaires and interest groups.

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman expressed this sentiment, widely held by left-wing bloggers at Firedoglake and Think Progress, among others, on Monday.

The “tea parties don't represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They're Astroturf (fake grass-roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects,” such as Fox News and former House Majority Leader Dick Armey's nonprofit group FreedomWorks, Mr. Krugman wrote.

“Those attacks are laughable,” said Eric Odom, one of the Tea Parties' chief national organizers. “It's easy for that side of the political aisle who is well funded to look at a model that is not funded and accuse it of being funded because that is what they are used to.”

“I'd love to know who to send the invoice to,” he joked.

What a number of right-leaning groups, such as FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity and Newt Gingrich's American Solutions, have done is provide information about tea parties to their activists.

“This is as spontaneous and as good as it gets when it comes to grass roots,” FreedomWorks spokesman Adam Brandon said. “Traditional groups on the right are helping out in different ways. American Solutions has a tool kit, we have a map to help people find tea parties in their hometown, but this is as far away from command and control as you can possibly get.”

Green eggs (no ham)

The White House's 2009 Easter souvenir egg is the “greenest egg in history.”

A press release from the White House boasted that the eggs were made in the United States from Forest Stewardship Council certified hardwood, meaning the wood comes from “environmentally and socially sustainable” forests.

In addition to the environmentally friendly souvenir eggs, the White House held yoga sessions and offered healthy-eating demonstrations to the 30,000 people who attended the event.

No word on whether “healthy eating” means no ham.

Trekkie treat

Members of the armed forces stationed in Kuwait received a welcome treat from the cast and crew of the new “Star Trek” movie over the weekend.

Director J.J. Abrams and several members of the Starship Enterprise traveled to Camp Arifjan to watch the film, nearly a month ahead of its stateside release, with 440 of our nation's finest.

Abrams and actors Zoe Saldana, Bryan Burk, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine and Eric Bana mingled with service members and signed autographs after the movie was shown.

“It's an honor to come here to say 'hi' and shake hands with the people who protect us,” Mr. Abrams said.

Beck's comedy tour

Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck is taking his show on the road - his new comedy routine, that is.

He's booked for six live performances in a whirlwind six-day June tour that will take him through Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, Kansas City, Houston and Richmond.

Amazon 'glitch'

Gay activists are outraged that Amazon.com may be removing gay-related books from the bookseller's sales rankings, thus depriving their authors of a coveted Amazon best-seller ranking.

Sales rankings have disappeared from many critically acclaimed titles that feature gay characters, such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Giovanni's Room.” Also, the first item shown after entering an Amazon book search on “homosexuality” is “A Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality.”

Customer-service officers from Amazon first told those who questioned the rankings that Amazon had a policy of removing “adult content” from appearing in some searches and on best-sellers lists, but Amazon's corporate communications director gave a different reason on Sunday to the Associated Press.

“There was a glitch in our systems, and it's being fixed,” director Patty Smith said.

The popular blogger John Aravosis of Americablog, who is gay, said, “People don't really believe this was a glitch. What kind of glitch ends up classifying all gay literature as porn?”

— Amanda Carpenter can be reached at 202/636-4883 or [email protected] times.com

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