Semper Fi, Berkeley

When you mention "Berkeley, California" to most conservatives, they picture a leftist community of graying hippies, radicals, and protesters.  Activities in the last few weeks have only reinforced this image.

The City Council of Berkeley last week voted to ask the U.S. Marine Corps to vacate their recruiting office in town, and that if they chose to stay they did so as "uninvited and unwelcome intruders."

During debate of the resolution, one council member called the Marines "the President’s own gangsters" and "trained killers." Another said the Marines had given the country "horrible karma" and said they had a history of "death and destruction." In a document drafted to support the resolution against the Marines, the council stated: "Military recruiters are sales people known to lie to and seduce minors and young adults into contracting themselves into military service with false promises regarding jobs, job training, education and other benefits."

After voting to insult the men and women who fight and bleed for their freedom, the City Council cast another ridiculous vote in favor of giving the radical protest group Code Pink a parking space directly in front of the Marine Corps recruiting station. They also voted to give Code Pink a sound permit for protests in front of the Marine Corps building. The City Council stated in the resolution that they "encourage all people to avoid cooperation with the Marine Corps recruiting station" and to "applaud" Code Pink for working to "impede, passively or actively" the work of the Marines Corps in Berkeley. 

Code Pink is a fringe organization that distinguishes itself by attacking American policy, while defending dictator Hugo Chavez. The group is so disrespectful that they have no problems demonstrating in front of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Medical Center with signs reading "Maimed for a lie."

The council’s resolution sparked an escalation of anti-Marine protests. Code Pink organizer Zanne Joy points to the City Council as justification for the escalation. She said that "anything legal is justified if it succeeds in persuading the Marine Corps to move its recruiting station out of Berkeley." According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Code Pink protesters have been heard shouting at young men who are trying to enter the recruiting station, "You guys are just cannon fodder!" and "They want to train you to kill babies!"

It is sad to see a city like Berkeley moving so far left. Thanks to its elected leadership
the city in which, as a young naval officer, the legendary World War II Pacific Theater Commander, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz established the Naval ROTC in the fall of 1926 is now sadly a shell of its former self.

This is disappointing, but in a republican form of government, it must be up to local voters to change their leadership.

However, this particular case became the business of all Americans when they insulted our troops while coming to the federal government asking for special taxpayer-funded handouts. Over $2 million was secretly tucked away for Berkeley earmarks in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill, projects that were never voted on or debated.

I do not believe a city that has turned its back on our country’s finest deserves $2 million worth of pork-barrel projects.  So, I will introduce legislation to revoke the funding.

Included in the $2 million worth of pork are some particularly wasteful projects.

One earmark provides gourmet organic lunches to schools in the Berkeley School District. While our Marines are making due with MREs of Sloppy Joe and Chili with Beans, the organization Chez Panisse is getting federal tax dollars to design meals that promote "environmental harmony." Chez Panisse’s menu features "Comté cheese soufflé with mâche salad," "Meyer lemon éclairs with huckleberry coulis" and "Chicory salad with creamy anchovy vinaigrette and olive toast."

Are we to understand that the city that has been home to many of the country’s most rich and famous cannot afford to pay for its own designer school lunches?

Another $975,000 earmark is for the Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service at U.C. Berkeley, which may include cataloging the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui.  Is it really necessary to tax the paychecks of Marines so we can earmark nearly $1 million for a school that is already sitting on a $3.5 billion endowment?

Let me be clear, my bill does does not cut off all federal funds to the city of Berkeley, though I am sure most Americans would feel that is justified. My bill merely rescinds wasteful earmarks. Berkeley is free to compete with other towns and cities across America for merit-based federal grants.

Actions have consequences. When the Berkeley City Council decided to insult the Marines in a time of war, it was a $2 million decision. Especially in a time of war, we cannot just allow cities to play insulting games at our troops’ expense while continuing to shower them with congressional favors.