There's something in the air. It's the smell of roasted pork. President Obama heralded the signing of the trillion-dollar "stimulus" bill in Denver and promoted his massive mortgage entitlement expansion in Mesa, Ariz., at tightly controlled campaign events. But outside the Secret Service perimeters, a raucous grassroots rebellion against Beltway spending binges has caught fire. The new Boston Tea Party is here, baby, and it's doused in barbecue sauce.
The first revolt took place on Presidents Day in Smurf-blue Seattle, where mom-blogger Keli Carender hastily organized a downtown demonstration to oppose what they called the "stimulus rip-off." A motley band of nearly 100 protesters -- moms and their kids, college students, libertarians, taxpayer groups, GOP activists -- raised their voices and dined on pulled pork (donated by yours truly). They assailed both the substance of the overstuffed stimulus package and the short-circuited, nontransparent process by which it was passed.
Some wore pig noses. Others waved Old Glory and "Don't Tread on Me" flags. Their handmade signs read: "Say No to Generational Theft"; "Obama'$ Porkulu$ Wear$ Lip$tick"; and "I don't want to pay for the SwindleUs! I'm only 10 years old!" The event was peaceful, save for an unhinged city-dweller who showed his tolerance by barging onto the speakers' stage and giving a Nazi salute.
Carender, a newcomer to political activism, shared advice for other first-timers: "Basically, everyone, you just have to do it. Call up your police station or parks department and ask how you can obtain a permit, and then just start advertising. The word will spread. I am only one person, but with a little hard work this protest has become the efforts of a lot of people."
Why bother? It's for posterity's sake. For the historical record. And hopefully it will spur others to move from the phones and computers to the streets. For Carender, it's just the beginning. She gathered all the attendees' e-mail addresses and will keep up the pressure."We need to show that we exist. Second, we need to show support for the Republicans and Democrats that voted against the porkulus. If they think, for one second, that they made a bad choice, we have no chance to fight. Third, it sends a message to Obama and Pelosi that we are awake and we know what's happening and we are not going to take it lying down. It is a message saying, 'Expect more opposition because we're out here.'"
The anti-pork activists turned out in Denver, too. On Tuesday, while Obama cocooned himself at the city's Museum of Nature and Science for the stimulus signing, a crowd of nearly 300 gathered on the Capitol steps on their lunch hour to flame-broil the spending bill and feast on roasted pig (also donated by yours truly). Jim Pfaff of Colorado's fiscal conservative citizens group Americans for Prosperity condemned the "Ponzi scheme, Madoff style" stimulus and led the crowd in chants of "No more pork!" Free-market think-tank head Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute brought oversized checks representing the $30,000 stimulus debt load for American families.
On Wednesday in Mesa, local conservative talk station KFYI spearheaded a third large protest to welcome Obama as he unveiled a $100 billion to $200 billion program to bail out banks and beleaguered borrowers having trouble paying their mortgages. The entitlement theme played well last week in Florida, where Obama played Santa Claus to enraptured supporters shamelessly seeking government presents. But nearly 500 protesters in Mesa came to reject the savior-based economy with signs mocking gimme-mania.
And my favorite: "Give me liberty or at least a big-screen TV."
Plans are underway for anti-stimulus-palooza protests in Overland Park, Kan., Nashville and New York -- home of smug Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Schumer's derisive comment on the Senate floor about the "chattering classes" who oppose reckless spending has not been forgotten or forgiven. The insult spurred central Kentucky talk show host Leland Conway to organize a pork rind drive. Angry taxpayers bombarded the senator's office with 1,500 bags of cracklins.
Disgraced Democratic Sen. John Edwards was right about one thing: There are two Americas. One America is full of moochers, big and small, corporate and individual, trampling over themselves with their hands out demanding endless bailouts. The other America is full of disgusted, hardworking citizens getting sick of being played for chumps and punished for practicing personal responsibility.
Now is the time for all good taxpayers to turn the tables on free-lunching countrymen and their enablers in Washington. Community organizing helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. It can work for fiscal conservatism, too.