- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2010


Damn the torpedos - and the criticism - and full speed ahead. Despite press reports that the “tea party” is rife with divisions, those at the heart of things are crafting a history: 97 stalwarts have been named the “founding mothers and fathers of the tea party” by a committee that identified the names behind a series of 51 grass-roots tax-revolt events of a year ago that led to the now burgeoning political movement.

“There are now thousands of local tea party leaders, and it’s a positive, vibrant thing, and it’s a very big tent,” organizer and National Tea Party president Michael Patrick Leahy tells Inside the Beltway. “We wanted to identify those who were at the beginning of it all - the everyday, average citizens who took some serious action and made real history.”

Among those on listed in newfound heritage: Commentators Michelle Malkin and “Instapundit” Glenn Reynolds, plus Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler, and Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express. See the whole thing at www.leadershipteaparty .com.


The nation’s capital will host “the largest gay wedding in history” on March 20. Organizers intend to break the Guinness Book of World Records mark by having 400 couples exchange vows at the neoclassical, 2,000-seat Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue and 12th Street in Northwest Washington. Formerly known as the “Departmental Auditorium,” the 79-year-old site hosted President Franklin D. Roosevelt‘s initiation of the Selective Service System lottery in 1940, as well as the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization nine years later.

The couples - who anticipate that the District’s new law legalizing gay marriage will be in effect by then - are working closely with the city itself for the occasion titled “Our Time Has Come,” according to event planner Mike Wilkinson. The organizers are working with Destination DC, the official convention and tourism corporation for the District, “to help out-of-town couples with travel arrangements,” he adds.


Some advise President Obama to jettison his cool demeanor and get aggressive with feisty Republicans and lumbering Democrats over health care reform - or risk watching the whole thing go down in flames if it doesn’t pass muster before the Congress’ spring recess, which begins March 29. “Chicago style” tactics are being advised.

“He doesn’t practice the arm-twisting politics the city is known for. After the Blair House health care summit, he’ll need to adopt that style over the next few weeks,” advises Albert R. Hunt, Washington editor of Bloomberg News.

Yet chutzpah is in the eye of the beholder in a post-summit aftermath. “Ramming and shoving” by Mr. Obama and the Democrats has already begun, counters Sher Zieve, a columnist with the Canada Free Press.

“Dictator-in-chief Obama made it crystal clear that the American people will accept whatever draconian plans they force upon them - and like it - or else,” she says, noting that the president simply “shut down” opponents during the summit.

“During much of the time Eric Cantor was quoting directly from one of the voluminous ObamaCare plans, President Obama refused to make eye contact with him and, with increasingly tightly-pursed lips, started shuffling through some of the papers in front of him,” Ms. Zieve observes. “This was a ‘Judge Judy’ moment. Whenever this happens on her television show, Judge Judy Sheindlin says sternly to the offender: ‘Put down your papers and look at me.’ Wish she’d been there.”


Dear, dear - so much for civility. Somebody’s getting awfully riled up these days. From a fundraising message to Democrats from Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts:

“I know very well what happens when Republicans get their shadowy outside assistance to spread their smears. And they’ll have plenty of help this time. With the right-wing fringe screaming about ‘death panels’ and ‘socialism,’ and corporate cronies allowed to spend an unlimited amount of money in support of candidates, thanks to the Citizens United ruling, Democrats must be ready to fight. When they attack, we must immediately punch back.”


Phoenix; Tampa, Fla.; and Salt Lake City: those are the three towns wooing the Republican National Committee for a chance to host the 2012 Republican National Convention - which is about 940 days away. A 12-member selection committee will visit the cities later this month and offer recommendation by July.

Why the early fuss? Money, baby, money. Consider that the 2008 convention raised more than $50 million for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Host Committee - with $7 million left over. That went to local charities. The hosts also calculated that the host cities received the equivalent of $330 million in free publicity from the four-day event.


Forget defense and information-technology stocks. Invest in dog food. The American Pet Products Association has announced that the $48 billion “pet industry” grew by more than 5 percent in 2009. The group predicts it will increase by 5 percent this year, crediting loving pet owners who shell out for Alpo - not to mention pet spa treatment, dentistry, anti-depressants, plus dog massage-therapists and chiropractors.

“People will cut back in a lot of areas of their lives to save money, but they don’t pinch pennies when it comes to their pets,” says Christy Howard, proprietor of the canine-only Three Dog Bakery in Dallas. “We’re coming off our best year ever and are about to open a second store.”


• 34 percent of Americans are in favor of more regulation of the U.S. financial system; 47 percent are opposed and 19 percent unsure.

• 54 percent of Democrats say more regulation is a good idea; 75 percent of Republicans disagree.

• 43 percent of Americans overall favor the creation of a new federal agency to regulate credit-card and mortgage-lender offers to consumers.

• 41 percent oppose such an agency.

• 61 percent of Democrats would favor it; 61 percent of Republicans would oppose it.

Source: A Rasmussen Reports survey of 1,000 adults conducted Feb. 24 and 25.

Barks, purrs, doggerel and caterwaul to jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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