WASHINGTON, DC. - Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thad Allen announced today that the plan to scarf up congressional earmarks was slightly misguided and very costly.
The nation's fifth military service, the Coast Guard, had looked to the Marine Corps recent success in getting $2 million which had been earmarked for Berkeley, Calif. Marine Corps Commandant James T. Conway had deviously created a plan to get the Berkeley City Council up-in-arms about a small recruiting station, up-in-arms to the point of endorsing demonstrators who vowed to close the office. Conway was then able to suggest to select members of Congress that perhaps earmarks which had been destined to the liberal northern California stronghold be redirected to the Marine Corps.
Allen's work group proposed asking Grand Haven, Michigan, to stand up and be counted. The Grand Haven Council was willing to take one for Team Coast Guard and to exemplify what it means to be a Coast Guard City. They encouraged local organizations, including the United Way, to demand the Coast Guard leave Grand Haven; the Council said it wanted nothing to do with the safety of lives in the coastal environment. They also publicly disagreed with Allen's stance on global warming.
What the work group did not realize is that there was only one Coast Guard earmark in the 2008 appropriations: repairs to the Coast Guard's presence in Grand Haven. What they also didn't realize is that the Semper Fi Act of 2008 allocated any funds stripped from a city because of free speech against any of the military services to the Marine Corps.
Representative Peter Hoekstra (R) had slipped the earmark in without letting anyone in the Coast Guard know. The language was so opaque and confusing that not the Coast Guard's professionals in congressional relations nor anyone else who follows the appropriations process knew the money was headed to the Coast Guard.
No longer, however, will that earmark be headed to Grand Haven and Admiral Allen's Coast Guard. General Conway's Marine Corps will find the benefit.
On learning that the Marine Corps would gain another $700,000, this time from Grand Haven, Conway merely smiled his cat-at-the-mouse grin and whispered, "Semper fi."