Posts Tagged ‘Patriot’
For the first time in 112 years, no one from the White House will appear at the VFW convention SORRY ONLY SOCIALISTS IN THE WHITE HOUSE NO PATRIOTS
Perry, Romney to speak in SAN ANTONIO.
By Abe Levy
Republican presidential hopefuls Gov. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney will be in San Antonio this week for the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention, but for the first time in its 112-year history, no one from the White House has committed to making an appearance.
Officials with the nation’s largest combat veterans association said they have about 8,000 registrants, many of whom are battling airport cancellations from Hurricane Irene to make it to the downtown Convention Center for Monday’s kickoff.
That’s when Perry is scheduled to take the stage. By custom, he was invited as governor of the host state. Conference leaders said they have asked him to appear as state governor — not as a presidential candidate — because his invitation went out before he announced he was seeking the GOP nomination.
On Tuesday, Romney is set to speak. Several months ago, when invitations went out for speakers, the former governor of Massachusetts was at the time the lone presidential candidate to have announced, VFW officials said. The group’s policy is to invite only announced presidential candidates.
“No matter what, we take heat for it,” said VFW spokesman Jerry Newberry. “When President Clinton spoke one year, we caught heat from members. When President Bush did, we took heat. Same with President Obama. But we’re a diverse organization, and we don’t care what party (speakers) come from.”
Adding to the frustration is not having Obama or any of his representatives accept the group’s invitation. The organization is noted for its advocacy of veterans’ rights, especially health care and military benefits, both of which are on the chopping block in talks about reducing the federal budget.
“When the President is unable to attend, it has always been customary for the White House to choose a high-level administration official as an alternative speaker,” wrote Richard Eubank, the group’s national commander, in a statement.
“It is an insult of the highest magnitude that for the first time in the history of the VFW, the White House has apparently decided that this great and iconic organization of combat veterans and all of its members are not worthy of its notice by not at least offering a first-tier speaker from the administration.”
Obama is scheduled to speak to another veterans organization, the American Legion, on Aug. 30 in Minneapolis for its annual national convention. It has an estimated 2.4 million members and is made up of both combat and noncombat veterans.
The VFW’s national gathering will last four days, concluding Thursday after a series of seminars and business meetings designed to prioritize issues for its estimated 2 million members.
The convention will include free health screenings, the election of new officers and appearances by Mayor Julián Castro; W. Scott Gould, the deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs; and former U.S. Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway.
Still, their chief concern is that the federal budget will cut benefits that veterans have relied on. And they’re leery about reports that the military retirement program is under review for an overhaul, including the idea of offering a 401(k) plan instead of the well-established guarantee of a salary after 20 years of service.
“Those discussions could very well impact the health and welfare of our veterans and military families and their future,” Newberry said. “Can veterans be assured their entitlements are going to be there for them? Can our military members at war for such a long time be reassured that they’re going to be taken care of?”
It was the most unexpected thing. Jenny Beth Martin was visiting members of Congress in Washington last November when someone called her name.
“Could I have your autograph?” she was asked.
Flustered and a little flattered, Martin scrawled her name across a protest placard her admirer held. Then, to be sure her newfound friend remembered why they were in the nation’s capital, she added words that have become synonymous with political discontent: “Tea Party Patriots.”
Others approached with the same request. Some knew she was to be featured in “Tea Party: The Documentary Film.” Others said they remembered her fiery stand earlier that year outside Congress. Still others said they had heard about her.
It’s a safe bet many more have heard of her now. Time magazine recently named Martin one of the 100 most influential people in the world. The April 29 issue listed the 39-year Woodstock resident among a group including household names from President Barack Obama to Lady Gaga.
In introducing Martin, Time wrote, “Every revolution needs icons.”
Icon? For Martin, the term is like a new pair of dress shoes: shiny, but not comfortable just yet. Three years ago, she was a mom caring for twins while her husband ran a temp agency. Then the business went bust and the Martins lost their home. Jenny Beth Martin found her voice, and has given it to a movement profoundly unhappy with Congress, the president and the general direction of life in the United States.
In the past year, her celebrity has taken her to Washington, New York, Philadelphia and other places where people want to see one of the few luminaries of a movement that prides itself on its lack of stars. So she books her flights, a surprised traveler.
“I never intended this,” she said recently. “I guess I just raise my hand too often and volunteer constantly.”
Becoming a believer
Martin may owe CNBC commentator Rick Santelli a big thank you. On Feb. 19, 2009, he stood on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade and blasted Obama’s mortgage bailout plan. “The government,” he yelled, “is promoting bad behavior!” Then, with a nod to U.S. history, Santelli said he should host a “Chicago tea party.”
Tea party. In suburban Atlanta, Martin heard that phrase and felt something stir. She got busy the next day, organizing Atlanta’s first tea party protest. On Feb. 27, Martin and others stood in the rain outside the Georgia Capitol with signs reading “Repeal or Retire,” a message to Congress to drop the economic stimulus plan.
Martin stepped up her e-mails and phone calls, sharing her belief. She and others planned a protest for April 15, the national deadline for filing income taxes. Someone, Martin isn’t sure who, coined the name “Tea Party Patriots.” In June she incorporated the group as a nonprofit political action organization. She is its CEO.
Its principles, she said, are simple. It wants the government to embrace fiscal responsibility, calls for a constitutionally limited government and urges free-market economics. An umbrella organization, it now claims 1,800 chapters with 15 million members.
The April 15 protests, held across the country last year, made a splash. And Martin, who coordinated speakers’ appearances at the Atlanta protest, made a discovery.
“I enjoyed it,” said Martin, who’d tasted politics a few years earlier working with the Georgia GOP. She wanted more.
Staying on message
On Sept. 12, 2009, about a half-million people descended on Washington for a “9/12” tax protest organized by Fox News personality Glenn Beck. They turned eyes to the stage, where a youngish woman addressed them in a Southern drawl.
“We were not loud enough in February, in April, in July,” said Martin. She turned to the alabaster buildings where lawmakers gather. “Can you hear us now?!”
Martin thinks her life changed at that moment. The Tea Party Patriots became a wave of believers, with Martin riding its crest.
And while the movement she helped start has caught fire, it has also drawn fire. Some extremists, including white supremacists and conspiracy theorists, have sprung up in and around it. Opponents of gay marriage and abortion have tried to ally themselves. Martin is emphatic: These folks weren’t invited to the party.
“We do not discriminate,” she said. The movement, she said, includes Democrats as well as Republicans, blacks as well as whites. “We all love this country passionately.”
There’s also the assertion that the organization has a disproportionate number of “birthers” who claim Obama was not born a U.S. citizen so is in the Oval Office illegally.
Martin sighed. “The governor of Hawaii said he [Obama] was born in Hawaii. That’s good enough for me.
“This is not about President Obama,” she said. “This is about the issues.”
Personal boom and bust
The daughter of a Methodist minister, Martin graduated from East Rome High School and attended Reinhardt College, where she met the handsome president of a fraternity. She went on to UGA, and he did, too. Lee and Jenny Beth Martin wed in 1992.
She got a job programming computers with Home Depot. Lee founded Indwell Corp., specializing in supplying temporary workers. They bought a five-bedroom house in a Woodstock subdivision. They had twin Lincoln Navigator SUVs, a yard service, a club membership. She quit her job and in 2003, gave birth to a boy and girl. Things looked good.
Then Indwell failed, prey to a faltering economy and what Martin described as her husband’s unscrupulous former business partner. Lee Martin took out loans and used credit cards to try to keep Indwell operating, she said. In 2008, he filed for bankruptcy, with tax debts alone of more than $680,000.
By filing for bankruptcy, the Martins avoided paying debts to some creditors. They still owe the IRS and state.
“We’ll have to pay them,” said Martin, who has not shied from talking about the family’s financial misfortunes.
These days, her husband repairs computers. As head of the Tea Party Patriots, Martin draws a monthly salary of about $6,000. “I didn’t start this to get a job,” she said.
The house is gone; so are the Navigators. The Martins bought a $2,100 heap, which recently broke down. Last week, they started getting around in a $27-a-day rental car.
“One of the most influential people in the world?” she asked. “We can’t even afford to buy a car.”
‘A sort of everywoman’
Martin does not have a posse, does not court the limelight. Her ordinariness, supporters say, is part of her appeal.
“She’s a sort of everywoman,” said California lawyer Mark Meckler, the Tea Party’s national coordinator.
Meckler thinks Martin’s appearances across the nation, as well her role in “Tea Party: The Documentary Film,” caught the attention of Time’s editors.
She was a perfect choice for the movie, said Luke Livingston, executive producer of the 105-minute film. “She’s a real hero of the movement,” said Livingston, also of Woodstock. He compares her to a “shepherd, making sure everybody has a place [in the movement] and can get activated.”
Julianne Thompson of Suwanee, a coordinator of the Georgia Tea Party Patriots, recalls the 9/12 rally in Washington, and watching Martin electrify the listeners, she said.
Martin, for her part, seems a little embarrassed by such uproar.
“This,” she said, “is a grass-roots movement. We’re all leaders.”
Yes, but some people stand apart from others. Someone has to be the most influential.
For the Tea Party movement, for the moment, that someone is Jenny Beth Martin.
Can the Tea Party Patriots change the face of American politics? Jenny Beth Martin believes they can.
Some experts, though, aren’t convinced they will. Other such movements, they say, have flowered briefly, only to wither without making much of a difference.
“Ultimately, they will fade out,” predicted Steve Anthony, a lecturer at Georgia State University and the former director of the state Democratic Party.
The organization, said Anthony, may see its ideals co-opted by a larger party — in this case, the GOP — and fizzle out. “If they are any good at all … one of the two major parties will take their issues over,” he said.
Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia since 1968, noted that other leaders have reached out to disgruntled voters in the past. In 1964, presidential candidate Barry Goldwater appealed to unhappy conservatives; eight years later, George McGovern turned to discontented liberals in his bid for the White House. Each failed.
The tea party movement’s test, he said, will come in the elections this November. Its grade will be posted the next day, when political watchers tally the win-loss record of candidates the Tea Party Patriots endorse.
“A year later, we may look back and say, ‘The tea party was much ado about nothing.’ ” he said. “Or we may not.”
By Evan McMorris-Santoro |
The Tea Party Express promised to soldier on in the wake of the Mark Williams saga, and today it made good on the pledge. For the first time since Williams — a former chairman and spokesperson for the group — resigned from the Tea Party Express, the TPE has endorsed a candidate in a Republican primary. The beneficiary of the TPE’s return to the campaign trail? Christine O’Donnell, the tea party-style conservative challenging Rep. Mike Castle for the GOP Senate nomination in Delaware.
As has so often been the case with TPE-endorsed candidates this year, the group says Castle must be defeated because he’s not conservative enough.
“We long ago announced our intention to hold Mike Castle accountable for his failed record in Congress, and now we have an excellent shot to make sure he is defeated by a solid conservative candidate,” TPE coordinator Joe Wierzbicki said in a statement.
For her part, O’Donnell seemed to welcome the endorsement from the group other tea partiers love to hate.
“This endorsement may prove to be a pivot point in the campaign,” O’Donnell’s campaign says on its website. A game changer perhaps.”
So who exactly is the TPE showing the love to today? A political commentator, right-wing activist and “marketing and media consultant,” O’Donnell ran against Vice President Biden for Senate in 2008 (he ran a reelection campaign for Senate concurrent to his vice-presidential bid). She’s also no stranger to prominent wingers with a penchant for making offensive statements in public (like Williams). On her website, O’Donnell lists career highlights, including her time as a marketing consultant for Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ.
Politically, O’Donnell’s stock seems to be rising with the conservative crowd. In a long profile published this morning, the American Spectator’s Robert Stacy McCain writes that O’Donnell “has gained new momentum in recent weeks,” as conservative Republicans — no great fans of Castle in the best of times — have started to worry that his lock on Biden’s old Senate seat might be slipping. As evidence, they point to recent polls that show the gap between Castle and likely Democratic nominee Chris Coons narrowing.
Other national conservative groups like the TPE may soon hop aboard the O’Donnell train as well. O’Donnell told Politico last week that she’s “she’s been courting support” from tea party megastars Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Sarah Palin. A spokesperson for DeMint told the website DeMint was “extremely impressed” with O’Donnell.
Still, most agree that an O’Donnell victory in the Sept. 14 primary would be still be quite the long-shot. But by throwing in with O’Donnell just as her stock starts to rise, the Tea Party Express may be hoping to shake the week of scandals that left the group, in the opinion of other national movement leaders, on the outside of the tea party looking in.
The Tea Party Express and its place in the larger Tea Party movement: High profile: The Tea Party Express is one of the best-known groups in the movement because of its three high-profile bus caravans and rallies. Sarah Palin spoke at the beginning of its third caravan, which began in Searchlight, Nevada, and its next-to-the-last stop in Boston, Massachusetts, before it ended with a Tax Day rally in Washington.
Political impact: The Tea Party Express has become a major player in Republican politics, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads for Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown in Massachusetts who upset Democrat Martha Coakley to fill the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat.
More recently, the organization helped little-known Sharron Angle win the Republican primary in Nevada to face Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, endorsing her and spending about a half-million dollars on ads for her. The organization says it plans to spend more to help her get elected.
The group also targeted incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah for his vote on the Troubled Assets Recovery Program and helped defeat his bid for a fourth term. It then backed underdog Mike Lee’s successful primary campaign and Lee now appears to be a shoo-in to win the general election in November and join the Senate next year.
Political action: The group runs the “Our Country Deserves Better PAC-Tea Party Express.org” political action committee, which was formed in 2008 to help raise money to oppose presidential candidate Barack Obama. It was created by Republican political consultant Joe Wierzbicki, who appears to have come up with the original Tea Party Express cross-country caravan.
What’s next?: The Tea Party Express is targeting GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska and has endorsed her little-know primary challenger Joe Miller. It plans a Monday event to announce its support.