Former Orange County progressive activist Tim Carpenter, who now does his agitating for the Michigan-based Progressive Democrats of America, is inviting tea partiers to protests at congressional district offices nationwide Wednesday aimed at reducing "unjustifiable government spending."
Well, the particular spending being targeted is $33.5 billion to escalate the war in Afghanistan. "Anyone who does not speak out now cannot credibly claim to oppose reckless or harmful government spending," says Carpenter, the PDA's national director.
What's ironic about this attempt to create strange bedfellows is the teabaggers rose to prominence during the debates over government healthcare reform. The PDA's biggest campaign is "Healthcare Not Warfare," which includes a call for a single-payer system, an idea that was all but torpedoed during the reform struggle thanks in part to the pressure applied by teabaggers.
Calling themselves "Brownbaggers," anti-war activists have been holding "Brown Bag Vigils" the third Wednesday monthly since January. Included are members of the PDA, WarIsACrime.org, Democrats.com, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, Healthcare Now, US Labor Against the War, Labor for Single-payer, United for Peace and Justice, the Backbone Campaign and CodePINK.
In other words, not exactly Fox News viewers.
They'll be out again at 109 congressional district offices across the country this week--including those of Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), Gary Miller (R-Diamond Bar), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) and John Campbell (R-Newport Beach) from noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday. Activists are also scheduled to be in front of the office of Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Riverside) from 5:30-6:30 that evening, and back at Miller's place from 4-5 p.m. on May 25.
Those Members of Congress, like others around the country, are being urged to vote no during the supplemental budget floor vote that is expected to happen before the end of the month. Opposition is urged even if the bill is loaded with other items that groups like the PDA would normally support. In addition to the war funding, the current version of the bill includes $30 billion for foreign aid, disaster relief and compensation for discrimination claims.
"There is no solution in Afghanistan that does not include the United States leaving," Carpenter says in a PDA statement. "We can leave before expending more blood and treasure and before generating more anger and hostility, or after. A handful of congress members are speaking out and urging their colleagues to vote no, regardless of what lipstick is applied to this pig of a bill.
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"That's the kind of leadership this country needs," he continued. "There is far too much silence in Washington and around the country. These vigils aim to break that silence."
How the congressmen and women react is being tracked at defundwar.org.
More information on Brown Bag Vigils, including maps to your local protests, is available here.
The total amount appropriated for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will reach $1 trillion at 10:06 a.m. on May 30, estimates the National Priorities Projects Cost of War counter.