Is the press threatened by the “tea party” movement - or is it just blood sport?
The mainstream news media continues to ramp up criticism and foment doubt about the National Tea Party Convention, set to open in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday.
“I believe they are attacking us because they fear this event. So far, the tea party movement has been a lot of protests, which the left has been willing to ignore or dismiss. Now, we are in an election year. Three Democrats have gone down to defeat, and this convention is about uniting the tea party movement and giving members tools they need to help them be more effective in their local communities,” Judson Phillips, organizer of the sold-out event, tells Inside the Beltway.
The event has 10 sponsors and 18 speakers, Sarah Palin among them.
“I think the left fears this, because when the elections come this fall, they are going to be voted out, excluding of course President Obama, whose term runs until 2012,” Mr. Phillips says.
Among the headlines in the last 48 hours: “Tension brews at tea party convention” (National Public Radio), “Tea party convention raises questions about movement’s future” (The Tennessean, USA Today), “Weak tea (party)” (Newsweek).
But wait. More than 100 national and international news organizations have now applied for press credentials for the event, according to press liaison Mark Skoda. Some journalists have asked for free lodging as well.
“Instead of the prior template about tea party groups being a bunch of irrelevant, quarreling right-wing, racist white wackos doing the bidding of people like Dick Armey, the attacks are becoming more vicious, because the political threat to their power is now perceived as more real than when it was just a bunch of big protest rallies last year,” Bruce Donnelly tells the Beltway.
He is president of Surgeusa, an Illinois-based grass-roots group with the motto “Change Congress.”
Mr. Donnelly adds, “Bottom line: There are a lot of really smart Americans outside the Beltway, and hundreds will meet in Nashville to get even more organized and prepare for their primaries and November 2.”
Fourteen presidents have mountains named after them. Former President Ronald Reagan could be next on the rarefied roster: Two efforts are under way to place a “Mount Reagan” on the map before Feb 6, 2011 — what would have been Mr. Reagan’s 100th birthday.
Citizen Outreach Foundation is determined that peak be in Nevada, and kicks off their “naming project” Saturday in Las Vegas, featuring local Reagan historian Craig Shirley as keynote sepaker.
“President Reagan’s many achievements, especially victory in the Cold War, warrants this type of honor,” says Mr. Shirley.
There’s lofty interest in California as well.
In a petition before the federal U.S. Board on Geographic Names, local Christian activist Arthur Mijares has proposed that 3,849-foot high “Mount Diablo” in Contra Costa County be renamed for Mr. Reagan. He denounces as “derogatory and profane” the current name, the Spanish word for “devil.”
County supervisors review the case Monday and have until March 31 to respond. Supervisor Gayle Uilkema of Lafayette, a member of the legislative committee, is less than thrilled.
“I would prefer not to disturb the historical significance of the mountain,” she told the press. “The name Mount Diablo has been part of this county for a very long time.”
The NFL’s claim that it alone has the rights to “Who Dat?” — the longtime New Orleans Saints’ war cry, a phrase that has been used in the region for 120 years — has turned into a political duel.
Both parties are lining up to oppose the NFL, which has sent cease-and-desist letters to T-shirt entrepreneurs who would use the motto, along with the Saints’ gold fleur-de-lis logo.
On the Republican team are Sen. David Vitter, who calls the NFL claim “obnoxious,” Gov. Bobby Jindal, and state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Lining up against the NFL for the Democrats: Rep. Charlie Melancon and the Louisiana Democratic Party.
The Republicans may have more clout — and moxie. Mr. Vitter’s NFL petition, available at www. davidvitter.com, dares the NFL to sue him. And the Republicans are united on that score: “If litigation is necessary, so be it,” Mr. Jindal says.
And now, we pause with due respect and appreciation for those who work at the Central Intelligence Agency.
Apparently, the clandestine life is very appealing to a whole lot of people.
“The Central Intelligence Agency received a record number of job applications last year — over 180,000. That brings the total number of applications since 9/11 to over one million,” a source tells Inside The Beltway.
“A vast pool of highly qualified Americans has expressed interest in joining the nation’s premier foreign intelligence agency. The CIA offers over 90 different job occupations, a global intelligence mission, and vital and challenging work. The CIA is, after all, the nation’s first line of defense,” the source notes.
SCORE ONE FOR SCOTT
“Oh, yeah. The good old days. Do you want me to sign it?”
— Sen.-elect Scott Brown, Massachusetts Republican, to ABC News’ Barbara Walters after she surprised him with his 1982 centerfold photo in Cosmopolitan magazine during his Sunday morning appearance on “This Week.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 76 percent of voters “trust” the American people more than political leaders on important national issues.
• 71 percent view the federal government as a “special-interest group.”
• 70 percent say government and “big business” work together in ways that hurt consumers.
• 65 percent of voters nationwide now hold “populist views of government.”
Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 3,500 likely voters, conducted Jan. 18 to 24.
• Populist ballyhoo and fairly competent press releases to firstname.lastname@example.org.