- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The persistent, rambunctious soul of the tea party has not been extinguished. While the mainstream media has eagerly declared the grassroots movement to be dead, dying or irrelevant in recent years, the clan maintains the same attitude it had going into the 2010 midterms. And that attitude is aggressive, and can-do.

“A large group of our tea party coordinators just completed our grassroots leadership training. They are right this very minute heading into the field to do political battle with the liberal Democrats,” says Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, which continues to be the nation’s largest umbrella group for the cause.

A tea party army is on the march, Ms. Martin observes, their sights set on five states where get-out-the-vote is the main strategy.

“They are performing the hard, sweaty work that will enable us to win back the Senate this year. They are doing their part to save America,” Ms. Martin continues, noting that this is the “largest and most sophisticated campaign ever undertaken by a tea party group.”

So much for claims that the group is fading from the political landscape.

And the main targets for their countermeasures: Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Bruce Braley of Iowa.

Such things irk lofty politicians. But they are still paying attention.

“There are a lot of good people involved in the tea party but their objective is they don’t want the government involved in anything. They are not liberal or conservative they are anti government. Their ends are met best when nothing happens,” Vice President Joe Biden complained to the New York Times on Monday.

“You cannot sustain a democracy without arriving at a consensus,” he added.

HISTORIC BACKWATER

It is not a bad idea to review the genesis of grass roots activities.

Over five years ago, a spirited, impromptu speech by CNBC analyst Rick Santelli during a live broadcast from the Chicago Board of Trade was the catalyst for the tea party, many say. Here is a part of the rant heard ‘round the world.

“This is America! How many people want to pay for your neighbor’s mortgages that has an extra bathroom and can’t pay their bills? Raise their hand! President Obama, are you listening? You know Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they’re driving ‘54 Chevys,” Mr. Santelli barked to the camera, and his fellow traders.

“It’s time for another tea party. What we are doing in this country will make Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin roll over in their graves,” the analyst concluded.

Mr. Santelli made his declaration Feb. 19, 2009. Eight days later, 35,000 people who agreed with him took to the streets in 39 cities to protest “government run amok,” this according to records from the aforementioned Tea Party Patriots.

THE ANTI-TEA PARTY

“Democrats aren’t perfect. There are times where even I have some complaints, and they certainly sometimes have complaints about me. One of the great things about the Democratic Party is we’re extraordinarily diverse. But on issue after issue after issue, we’re prepared to take the common-sense, practical, fact-based, reasoned approach to solving problems, because we believe that government serves an important role in making sure that there’s opportunity for the next generation. And that’s the reason we need to keep a Democratic Senate.”

- President Obama, during a private Democratic fundraiser on Tuesday night.

ISIS, ISIL - OR ‘SOMETHING ELSE’

ISIS, ISIL: There is still confusion, even as the bombing campaign to counter the fighters continues, and the news coverage grows shrill.

“What to call the militant group that has taken control of large parts of Syria and Iraq has long been a tricky question. Early on, it was most common to call it the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria - ISIS - but the group later announced they were re-branding as simply Islamic State - IS - a name many news organizations have since adopted,” says William Jordan, an analyst for YouGov polls.

“The Obama administration, however, has continued to refer to them as ISIL - the acronym for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - while the French government recently announced they were dropping IS in favor of Daesh, a name the militants themselves reportedly hate. In the United Kingdom, major news organizations now use ISIS or Islamic State, though a spokesman for the Prime Minister recently used ISIL,” Mr. Jordan continues.

Of course there’s a survey, charting the “best” name. Among Americans, ISIS wins. Almost half - 49 percent - are the most comfortable with the designation. That includes 58 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Democrats.

Only 5 percent overall favored ISIL; 3 percent of Republicans and 7 percent of Democrats agreed.

Interesting to note that some people don’t much care: 31 percent overall said they “don’t know” - or simply suggested “something else.”

POLL DU JOUR

60 percent of Americans approve of U.S. military action against Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.

65 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of Democrats and 55 percent of independents agree.

40 percent of Americans overall approve of ground troops in Syria and Iraq.

61 percent of Republicans, 30 percent of Democrats and 35 percent of independents agree.

Source: A Gallup poll of 1,013 U.S. adults conducted Sept. 20-21.

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