Sunday, February 24, 2008

Semper Fi Act

Senators Introduce Semper Fi Act of 2008
Bill Stops Berkeley Earmarks and Transfers Funds to Marine Corps
February 6, 2008

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina), Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia), Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-Oklahoma), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and David Vitter (R-Louisiana) introduced the Semper Fi Act of 2008. The bill would rescind over $2 million in hidden earmarks for Berkeley, California in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and transfer the funds to the Marine Corps. U.S. Congressman John Campbell (R-California) is introducing a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
Last week, the City Council of Berkeley voted to oust Marine Corps recruiters from their downtown office, saying the Marines were “uninvited and unwelcome intruders.” Berkeley officials also voted to give the radical protest group Code Pink space outside the recruitment office and urged them to “impede, passively or actively” the work of Marine Corps recruiters.

One earmark provides $243,000 in taxpayer dollars for the organization Chez Panisse to create gourmet organic school lunches in the Berkeley School District. Chez Panisse is dedicated to “environmental harmony” and their menu features “Comté cheese soufflé with mâche salad,” “Meyer lemon éclairs with huckleberry coulis,” and “Chicory salad with creamy anchovy vinaigrette and olive toast.”
*********Correction****The $243,000 is designated for the Chez Panisse Foundation not the Chez Panisse Restaurant. Although, the confusion is understandable (to me anyway) since it was the restaurant's owner who established the foundation. However, in the interest of complete accuracy, the money is proposed to go to a 501c3 non-profit organization. I would like to thank Stephen Denney for pointing this out. Although it does not change my mind one bit and I still support the Semper Fi Act. The point is cause pressure to be brought to bear on the Berkeley City Council. While bringing healthier food choices into school lunch programs is a laudable goal, it can wait until the Berkeley City Council pulles it's head out of it's ass. No one is going hungry.

Another earmark would spend $975,000 in taxpayer dollars for the University of California in Berkeley Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service, to create a new endowment and cataloging the papers of Congressman Robert Matsui. U.C. Berkeley currently already has a $3.5 billion endowment. Senator Inhofe: “Unfortunately, those on the Berkeley city council do not seem to understand the sacrifice of the brave men and women of the United States Marine Corps. By interfering with military recruiting, the city of Berkeley is hampering our ability to protect this nation. While the city of Berkeley and the protestors are free to say whatever they like, free speech is not a protection from consequence.”

Senator DeMint: “Berkeley needs to learn that their actions have consequences. Patriotic American taxpayers won’t sit quietly while Berkeley insults our brave Marines and tries to run them out of town. Berkeley City Council members have shown complete ingratitude to our military and their families, and the city doesn’t deserve a single dime of special pet project handouts.”

Senator Cornyn: “The Berkeley City Council insulted our troops and offended people across the country. If the U.S. Marines are not good enough for Berkeley, neither are taxpayer dollars Congress would have sent there this year. That city closed its doors on the same individuals taking bullets on the front lines while fighting for the safety and freedom of families in Berkeley and throughout America.”

Senator Vitter: “The actions of the City Council of Berkeley are in stark contrast to beliefs of the vast majority of Americans who recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of our U.S. Marines. This is simply unacceptable and those funds could be better utilized by the Marine Corps.”

Dr. Coburn: “The actions by the city of Berkeley are deplorable and insulting to those who are serving and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the very freedoms that are being exercised to insult them. I know I stand with the majority of Americans in thanking our service men and women for their selfless service to our nation.”

Senator Chambliss: “We need to send a strong message that our military personnel deserve our strongest support. Georgia is a proud military state, and my constituents will be out outraged to know that during a time of war, their taxpayers dollars have been used to reward folks who have insulted and disparaged those who defend this nation every day.”
H/T Bigg Bill aka Bill Steiner, if you aren't on his email list, you want to be. The man has a finger in every pie. The issue closest to his heart of course is the Flight 93 Memorial and making sure it isn't an Islamic memorial.


Stephen Denney said...

Other than to mislead, I don't know what purpose is served by this press release listing fancy menu items off the Chez Panisse restaurant which have nothing to do with school lunches in Berkeley (easy enough to Google Berkeley school lunch menus). The food served in Berkeley schools is not that different from other public schools, other than allowing a vegetarian option and trying to get organic and locally produced food onto the menus. Also, it makes no sense to punish the Univ. of California for the actions of a city council over which it has no control.

BostonMaggie said...

**to create gourmet organic school lunches in the Berkeley School District**

Since Chez Panisse has not received their earmark money yet and their mandate to "create" has not been carried out, neither of us know what they will do, do we? I would say that the Senator is basing his guess on Chez Panisse's track record.

Isn't the Berkeley Matsui Center for Politics and Public Service in Berkeley? I think it makes perfect sense. If Cambridge wanted to pull this crap (and it wouldn't surprise me if they did), I would have no objection to stopping money from flowing into Harvard. The point is pressure. The city council is using undue influence to pressure the Marines. They are assisting Code Pink. We, in the form of Congress are going to push back a little.

What would you suggest? Do you think it's right for Code Pink to keep people from entering and exiting that building? Doesn't Code Pink's freedom end at the tip of my nose? Why does Code Pink's right to protest trump the right of other US citizen's to carry out their own business?

If Code Pink wanted to stand outside and sing Kumbaya I would say that was their right (I would think they were flaming idiots), and I would defend that right. However, the person who wants to walk into that Marine recruiting office has just as much right to conduct their day as they see fit within the law.

The Chez Panisse thing is to underline how foolish things are in Berkeley. I'll be frank, I would object to this earmark on three counts.

It's an earmark. If something is worth doing, introduce legislation in the light of day. I object to all earmarks, Republican and Democrat.

It's silly to have a fancy restaurant collect that much money to come up with a menu for school lunches. $243,000 would cover a full time nutritionist for several years and I think that might be overkill as well.

Three it's for Berkeley and I don't want them to get squat.

Stephen Denney said...

It is for an ongoing program, which you can find easily enough on the web. Chez Panisse restaurant has no involvement in making school lunches for Berkeley public schools. And I would not punish Harvard for some stupid decision of the Cambridge city council.

BostonMaggie said...

Are you saying that Chez Panisse the restaurant and Chez Panisse the reciepient of an earmark **to create gourmet organic school lnches for the Berkeley School District**?

If you are trying to make some sort of correction to the story, why don't you just make it. The press release says $243,000 is going to CP to make gourmet school lunches. You say it's not. Are you saying the $243,000 is gong somewhere else? Are you saying there is no proposal to earmark $243,000?

Stephen Denney said...

I am saying that the Chez Panisse foundation is separate from the Chez Panisse restaurant, and that the kind of food served in Berkeley public school cafeterias has nothing to do with the exotic menu of the Chez Panisse restaurant. Typical food served in Berkeley schools would be sloppy joes, chicken teriyaki, etc.. But they do try to serve more organic, less processed food, spending about $1.50 per student, probably less than is spent on students in Boston. You can view the statement of the Chez Panisse foundation on this issue here:

Also, if you wish to boycott those who actively discourage joining the military, then I suggest Harvard would be a better target than UC Berkeley, since Harvard seems to discourage students from joining the ROTC, unlike UC Berkeley. See:

For UC Berkeley ROTC see:

BostonMaggie said...

How's that?

P.S. I agree Harvard is anti-military. If someone gave them a hard time, I'd be right there with them. However, Harvard isn't blocking Marine recruiting stations, forcibly violating people's rights as they try to walk into Marine recruiting stations or giving preferential treatment to protesters who violate the rights of others.

Stephen Denney said...

"However, Harvard isn't blocking Marine recruiting stations, forcibly violating people's rights as they try to walk into Marine recruiting stations or giving preferential treatment to protesters who violate the rights of others."

Neither is UC Berkeley, it seems you are equating the actions of the city council with the university even though they are very separate entities and the university has an ROTC program (unlike Harvard) and allows military recruiting.

BostonMaggie said...

Let me be more specific (as I was in my first comment).

If the City of Cambridge pulled the crap that the City of Berkeley is pulling, I would advocate cutting funds to Harvard.


I have some questions for you Stephen. Do you think it's right that the Code Pink people force all business at the recruiting station to stop? Do you think it's right for the police to stand by while people trying to get in a physically stopped? Do you think it's alright for the City Council to give the CP people a parking spot?
I don't.
What other means of redress would you suggest?

Stephen Denney said...

To answer your questions Maggie, no to the first three, I do not think any of those things are right. I wrote a letter to Mayor Bates several weeks ago to protest the same points you make. As to what can be done, if your really want to get back at the Berkeley city council, i.e. the mayor and those council members who supported him, find out who their opponents will be in the next election and send money to them. I won't repeat the other points I have already made here. But I will add that from my observation, the recruiting center is still there in Berkeley carrying on its work, which includes recruiting people living in Berkeley and surrounding towns.