A new front in Berkeley vs. the Marine Corps

The U.S. Senate!


Katharine Mieszkowski
February 16, 2008 3:22AM (UTC)

The dust-up between the Berkeley City Council and the U.S. Marine Corps isn't over yet. It has just moved to the U.S. Senate, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

To recap, a couple of weeks ago, the Berkeley City Council ran afoul of conservative groups, like Move America Forward, when the council wrote a letter to the Marines declaring them "unwanted intruders" for running a recruiting station near UC-Berkeley. Raucous protests ensued, pitting flag-waving veterans against peace-sign-giving Berkeley High students, organized by Code Pink. Tuesday night, the Berkeley City Council retracted the letter, but stopped short of officially apologizing for it.

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Not satisfied, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., introduced a proposal Thursday to strip the city of more than $2.1 million in federal earmarks, and give the money to the Marine Corps. "This particular case became the business of the American people when the city of Berkeley insulted our troops and their constitutional mission to defend our country, while still coming to the federal government asking for special taxpayer-funded handouts," DeMint said.

The measure appears to be going nowhere, but Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., denounced it anyway: "State and local governments all across the nation pass resolutions and measures that many of us don't agree with on a host of issues. Disagreements are part of the political process," she said. "Why on Earth would we punish good, decent citizens because some members of their local government or their sewer district or the mosquito abatement district or water district, any of their districts, say something that's highly offensive?"

It's not the first time that conservatives have called for stripping federal funding from cities that have taken actions with which they disagree. When 60 percent of San Francisco voters approved a ballot measure urging public schools and colleges to ban on-campus military recruiting, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly called on terrorists to bomb the iconic Coit Tower on the top of Telegraph Hill, and said that the military should not defend San Francisco if such an attack should occur. Last fall, conservatives in the House tried to strip federal funding for antiterrorism from so-called sanctuary cities, which take a "Don't ask, don't tell" stance toward the immigration status of residents.


Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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Barbara Boxer, D-calif. War Room



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