Tea or coffee? Coffee, please!

Sunday, July 10, 2011
Members of the Eureka Springs Coffee Party group gather weekly to drink coffee (or other beverages) and discuss political and social issues and their solutions in a calm and rational manner. The group gives monthly presentations on various issues. From left are Katy Turnbaugh, Paul Justus, Forrest Jacobi, Becky Gillette and Michael Sheard. Kathryn Lucariello / CCN

EUREKA SPRINGS -- "Democracy is not something you pull out of the closet every four years for one day and then put it back in," said Forrest Jacobi. "So I thought about it, and formed a progressive, activist committee to talk about social and political issues that are relevant.

"I got four of my friends, for a group of five. That seems to be a manageable number."

The group gets together for coffee and talks politics and social issues.

Then, under the auspices of Coffee Party USA, they do a monthly presentation at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Eureka Springs.

Coffee Party USA is a grassroots political movement started in January 2010 by South Korean-born immigrant Annabel Park, who studied philosophy at Boston University and political theory at Oxford University.

Frustrated with "Tea Party" rhetoric, its hostility and incivility in public discourse, and claims to represent mainstream Americans, Park posted comments to her Facebook page.

She and co-documentary filmmaker Eric Byler started a "Join the Coffee Party Movement" fan page, which quickly went viral, generating more than 150,000 fans in less than six weeks.

The mission of Coffee Party USA, said Park, is really not to set up a group directly opposing the Tea Party but to represent a diverse political body that is nonpartisan and "transpartisan."

"We maintain our independence from all political parties and labels. Yes, we are non-partisan, but being non-partisan does not mean we will not take positions. It means that Coffee Party members will arrive at positions based on principles and facts, not on party affiliation," the group says on its website, coffeepartyusa.com.

They see the federal government as "not our enemy, but the expression of our collective will -- and we pledge to work toward positive solutions, and hold accountable those who obstruct them. The Coffee Party USA believes that the influence of money, and the politics of fear and exclusion, stand in the way of a government of, by, and for the people."

"If you don't get involved and express your opinions, then you'll be told what to think and do, and you'll have no choices whatsoever," said Jacobi.

He said the country is lapsing into "soft fascism, the Corporate States of America."

"We have the best Congress money can buy, and money has bought them," he said. "They don't represent us, they represent the big guys with the money."

The Coffee Party is not just a discussion group, however. They, along with other groups, are actively involved in a movement to reverse the Supreme Court's recent decision to treat corporations as individuals.

The Eureka Coffee Party group consists of Jacobi, Becky Gillette, Katy Turnbaugh, Paul Justus and Michael Sheard.

"We're all activists," said Gillette. "We do public outreach, but each of us has our own issue nearest and dearest to our hearts."

For Gillette, it's formaldehyde action reform (she brought national attention to formaldehyde in the construction of FEMA trailers given to Hurricane Katrina victims) and other environmental issues.

For Turnbaugh, a farmer/rancher living off the grid, it's education and farming.

Sheard is interested in states' rights, and Jacobi calls himself a "generalist" but with a leaning toward macro-economic issues. For Justus, its tax reform.

The group is not limited to those issues, but whatever the issue, the goal is civility and a calm exploration of solutions.

"The main point about the Coffee Party," said Justus, "is not to be opposed to the Tea Party but to sit down and have rational discussion without shouting at each other."

In its presentations at the UU Church, the group has covered such topics as Wikileaks, fracking, the movie "Gasland" and thorium energy.

"You have to think globally and act locally, so our small group is trying to educate people to make a difference," Jacobi said. "Like on diet, people need to know they have choices and you're not going to get it in the mass media."

The group did a presentation July 10 with a potluck and showing of the film "The Future of Food."

The film investigates the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled grocery store shelves for the past decade. The film also explores alternatives to large-scale industrial agriculture.

To find out more about Coffee Party USA, visit www.coffeepartyusa.com.

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  • Great story. May I suggest some topics for your group:

    1. What is "hostility and incivility" and why do non-tea party members show up at tea party rallies holding up signs comparing anyone who does not agree with them to Hitler?

    2. Discuss why, when Bill Clinton was 18, his future vice president's father, Sen. Al Gore Sr., was locked arm-in-arm with other segregationist Democrats to kill the Civil Rights act of 1964. Clinton's "mentor" and "friend," klansman J. William Fulbright, joined the Dixiecrats, an ultra-segregationist wing of Democratic lawmakers, in filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and in killing the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

    3. Discuss the roots of one of America's major political parties: "There is no doubt that the Democratic Party is the party of the Confederacy, historically, that the Democratic Party's flag is the Confederate flag. It was our party's flag. That Jefferson Davis was a Democrat, that Stonewall Jackson strongly identified with the Democratic Party, that secessionists in the South saw themselves as Democrats and were Democrats. That so much of the Democratic Party's history, since it is our nation's oldest political party, has its roots in slavery."

    4. A tax reform issue for Paul Justus: Why will between 42% and 47% of American wages earners pay no federal income tax and this is not identified as an "outrage" and shored up in the current fiscal calamity on capital hill?

    5. Local issue for discussion; Why are people I watch who line up to receive free food at local food pantries over weight, smoke, have cell phones and drive late model vehicles?

    6. And a "big guy" with a lot of money I'd like to know about, George Soros. Is he slinging his money around and to whom?

    -- Posted by Atlas Shrugged on Sun, Jul 10, 2011, at 10:44 AM
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