- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2009

SPEECH STOPPERS

Left-wing protesters at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill forced former Rep. Tom Tancredo to flee a campus building Tuesday night.

Campus police released pepper spray and threatened to use a Taser on the student protesters when they disrupted the ex-Colorado congressman’s speech opposing in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, the Charlotte News & Observer reports.

Mr. Tancredo was invited by a group to speak, but his speech lasted only five minutes. He left once protesters broke a window outside the classroom, the newspaper said.

Before the event, campus security removed two women who delayed Mr. Tancredo’s speech by stretching a 12-foot banner across the front of the classroom that read, “No dialogue with hate.”



Several student protesters screamed curses at Mr. Tancredo and Riley Matheson, president of the UNC-Chapel Hill chapter of Youth for Western Civilization.

“This is the free-speech crowd, right” Mr. Tancredo joked.

Geography professor Alpha Cravey joined protesters in chanting the names of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus.

Mr. Tancredo was escorted from the room by campus police.

About 200 protesters reconvened outside the building. “We shut him down; no racists in our town,” they shouted. “Yes, racists, we will fight; we know where you sleep at night!”

“Fascists are fascists,” Mr. Tancredo said. “Their actions were probably the best speech I could ever give. They are what’s wrong with America today. When all you can do is yell epithets, that means you are intellectually bankrupt.”

A conservative blog called Moonbattery (www.moon[R]battery.com) commented: “Imagine the hysterical reports Homeland Security would produce on the menace of right-wing extremists if any of us behaved like liberals.”

TEA PARTIES

“So who’s behind the Tax Day tea parties?” Glenn Harlan Reynolds writes in the Wall Street Journal.

Ordinary folks who are using the power of the Internet to organize. For a number of years, techno-geeks have been organizing ‘flash crowds’ [-] groups of people, coordinated by text or cellphone, who converge on a particular location and then do something silly, like the pillow fights that popped up in 50 cities earlier this month. This is part of a general phenomenon dubbed ‘Smart Mobs’ by Howard Rheingold, author of a book by the same title, in which modern communications and social-networking technologies allow quick coordination among large numbers of people who don’t know each other.

“In the old days, organizing large groups of people required, well, an organization: a political party, a labor union, a church or some other sort of structure. Now people can coordinate themselves,” said Mr. Reynolds, author of “An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths.”

He added: “What’s most striking about the tea-party movement is that most of the organizers haven’t ever organized, or even participated, in a protest rally before. General disgust has drawn a lot of people off the sidelines and into the political arena, and they are already planning for political action after today.

This influx of new energy and new talent is likely to inject new life into small-government politics around the nation. The mainstream Republican Party still seems limp and disorganized. This grass-roots effort may revitalize it. Or the tea-party movement may lead to a new third party that may replace the GOP, just as the GOP replaced the fractured and hapless Whigs.’

HOW STIMULATING

During a White House press briefing [Tuesday], ABC’s Jake Tapper pointed out that unemployment is right about where an Obama economic adviser predicted it would be without the stimulus,” John McCormack writes in a blog at www.weeklystandard.com.

Tapper also noted that Obama had announced the 2,000th stimulus project the day before, but it turns out that this is the 2,000th planned project. Tapper asks Gibbs: How many projects have actually been started?

Gibbs will, uh, look into it: ‘I can certainly look for a number. I think what we highlighted was the fact that you’ve got bids that are coming in. You’ve got the acceptance of a bid. But I can get exact numbers in terms of how much ground has actually been broken.’

“Oh, and about that very worthwhile 2,000th project, the Christian Science Monitor reports: ‘[I]t seems almost churlish to question whether Kalamazoo County really needs three east- and three west-bound lanes on I-94, especially at a cost of $68 million to federal taxpayers.

“While the population of the western Michigan county has grown 3 percent since 2000, it’s not exactly congested. ?We’ve got a lot of things to deal with out here, but traffic isn’t one of them,” said Monitor correspondent and Kalamazoo resident Yvonne Zipp in an interview. - “‘Rush hour lasts 10 minutes, maybe 15 on a Friday, she added.’”

LEADING THE WAY

Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, is leading the charge against offshore oil drilling amid signs that the Obama administration agrees with her.

On Jan. 16, 2009, just days before leaving office, the Bush administration gave one last gift to its allies in the oil and gas industry: a five-year plan by the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service to open nearly all of our nation’s coastline to offshore drilling, including California’s pristine coast, from San Diego to the Oregon border,” Mrs. Boxer said Wednesday in an opinion column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Fortunately, within weeks of President Obama’s inauguration, his new Interior secretary, Ken Salazar, put the plan on hold, calling it a ‘headlong rush of the worst kind’ that was made with ‘almost no consultation from states, industry or community input.’ Salazar, to his credit, is in San Francisco Thursday for the last of four regional meetings to listen to our concerns.

“As Californians, we should speak with one voice and tell the new administration, unequivocally, that oil and gas drilling off our coast would be an environmental and economic disaster.”

• Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or e-mail Greg Pierce

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