At Senator Chambliss' office the Chief of Staff actually graced us with his presence and listened intently to our rebuke of the Semper Fi Act. Although he stood by his boss' actions we indicated our displeasure at the vindictiveness of attacking schoolchildren and students as a political ploy. Why attack children, our nation's future leaders? Should not the Senator rather subtract funding from Berkeley's recruiting office instead? But punishing innocent bystanders is a major part of the Republican party agenda.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Semper Fi 8
What do Senators from South Carolina, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Missouri have to do with the local politics of Berkeley, California? Why did these senators decide to punish the children of Berkeley public schools by stripping them of the funding for their organic nutrition program? What do Senators DeMint, Burr, Coburn, Allard, Chambliss, Cornyn and Bond have against research libraries? These are the questions we had for these senators who have sponsored a very punitive piece of legislation called the Semper Fi Act.
The Semper Fi Act, sponsored by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina is a bill drawn up to punish the city of Berkeley in response to that city's designation of the Marine recruitment center as "uninvited and unwelcome intruders". His intent is to strip Berkeley of $2 million dollars in earmarks designated for school nutrition, university library and research and other programs and forward those funds to the Marines.
DeMint declares this move a punitive measure, "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. "
Read Senator DeMint's press release here:
So in solidarity with our sisters and brothers-in-peace in Berkeley, six CODEPINK'rs set out to educate the eight Republican senators who have forgotten democratic ideals, that our democracy is a federalist one and that the state and local entities have a right to decide how to run their cities.
We, Liz, Ellen, Manijeh, Leslie, Jes and I set out after preparing an educational flyer, "We're proud of Berkeley City Council's stand for peace! One side detailed the cost of the war to their respective state. The other side was our version of the flyer used in Berkeley but addressed to each Senator. In addition, we delivered a photo of a Marine from each of their states who was killed as a result of the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
We also spoke to Senator Coburn's Chief of Staff, who likened the Berkeley City Council's objection to the Marine recruiting station to a historical precedent. In the Nullification Crisis, Andrew Jackson called out the Navy to Charleston Harbor when South Carolina protested custom house tariffs. Congress passed the Force Bill which empowered Jackson to use military power to force states to obey all federal laws. We noted that it was hardly likely that the Navy would be sent to San Francisco Bay; we think his point was that Berkeley was getting off easy by only losing 2 million dollars.
We were glad to have had substantive discussions with high level staff; on many visits we didn't get past the interns and staff assistants. We met a large number of other delegations in the hallways - community colleges, health professionals, Native Americans, chamber of commerce. Many folks we met hadn't heard about the Berkeley peace initiatives, and were supportive. They agreed with us that the Semper Fi Act was a ridiculous, empty gesture by meddling outsiders. The afternoon we spent in the halls of Congress was a great opportunity to act in solidarity with our sisters and brothers at the vigil in Berkeley.