- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 11, 2009

Brewing again

The Tea Party Express — the rollicking, 7,000-mile cross-country journey by conservative grass-roots activists vexed by big government, health care reform and heavy federal spending — is gearing up for Part 2. In two weeks, the whole shebang begins again. Welcome to “Countdown to Judgment Day,” the name inspired by the approaching one-year mark before the 2010 congressional elections.

Their theme remains the same. But the Tea Party folks are looking to expand both the audience and their base of support.

“Our message hasn’t changed, and this movement continues to grow,” says coordinator Joe Wierzbicki. “We’re still out there promoting five distinct principles. End the bailouts, stop cap and trade and out-of-control deficit spending, end the government takeover of health care, and stop raising our taxes.”

It’s their classic take-away, and everyone is welcome to join in the fray.

“Any activist or politician that supports these points is in agreement with the message of the Tea Party Express,” Mr. Wierzbicki continues.

Some say this inclusive attitude could give rise to a third political party by 2012. The rolling brigade — which includes entertainers, public speakers and hundreds of local organizers — will depart San Diego on Oct. 25 and wind up in Orlando on Nov. 11, Veterans Day.

“The latest installment will raise the bar even further for the Tea Party movement,” Mr. Wierzbicki adds.

Czar Bazaar

Or maybe it’s czar bizarre. Should the lengthening list of White House policy “czars” be of concern, consider that a pair of nimble scribes have already written a guide to this curious phenomenon. “Shadow Government: What Obama Does Not Want You to Know About His Czars” will be released Wednesday.

Penned by Scott Wheeler and Peter Leitner, co-founder of the National Republican Trust PAC, the volume has some heavy endorsement from Republican Reps. Jack Kingston of Georgia and Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina.

The current list of czars — some vetted by Congress, some not — lingers around 32. Is this list growing? Watch this space.

What would Gorby do?

We cite yet another cultural moment: the “Russia Happy Hour” staged Friday at the Katra Lounge in Manhattan, featuring “a night of upscale partying and networking for professionals, executives, academics, investors and entrepreneurs from former Soviet Union countries: Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.”

Hmm. Yeah. Well. We have come a long way from the days of shoe-banging officials, detente, shuttle diplomacy, touchy summits, closed door talks and all the other diplomatic hallmarks of another age. The “former Soviet countries” have also evolved, as has their diplomatic language.

“Dress to impress,” the organizers told attendees.

Quotes of note

“After all these months of seeing these teabaggers hold up signs of Obama with the Hitler moustache painted on, we have proof now that Obama isn’t Hitler. ‘Cause when Hitler tried to get the Olympics, he got it.” — HBO comedian Bill Maher.

“The trademark of the Obama administration’s approach to health reform is to point to problems and then propose solutions that do not solve them.” — Dr. John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis.

“Let’s remember that Letterman’s a clown, not a cleric or congressman.” — Tom Shales, The Washington Post

“I’m insane or stupid. I can’t figure out which.” — Tom Delay, on his short-lived gig with “Dancing With the Stars.”

Poll du jour

21 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job.

9 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of independents approve of Congress.

36 percent of Democrats approve.

84 percent approved of Congress in October 2001 — the all-time highest rating.

14 percent approved in July 2008 — the all-time lowest rating.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,013 adults conducted Oct. 1 to 4; Gallup archives.

Days of yore

The Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in Washington on this day in 1890. The FBI appointed its first female special agent — Alaska P. Davidson — 87 years ago today as well. She served from 1922 to 1924.

Happy 34th wedding anniversary to former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The pair met in 1972 while studying law at Yale University; both worked on George McGovern’s presidential campaign that year.

And because there is Yankee spirit involved, we point out that the last hand-cranked telephones in the nation went out of service on this day in 1983. Yes, 1983. The 440 telephone customers of Bryant Pond, Maine, finally got direct dial service — but not without a fight. Locals organized a “Don’t Yank the Crank” effort to preserve the little two-position magneto switchboard in the living room of Barbara and Elden Hathaway, but the Oxford County Telephone & Telegraph Company ultimately prevailed.

Reaganites do a jig today, marking the 23rd anniversary of a summit between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjavik, Iceland. At issue was the Strategic Defense Initiative; Mr. Reagan would not entertain any suggestions about dropping the initiative; the talks only lasted a day.

Not the best day for a future Supreme Court justice: lastly, Anita Hill testified that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her on this day in 1991.

Follow Jennifer Harper at twitter.com/harperbulletin.


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