Back in March of 2008, I wrote a column about certain sectors of the left, particularly the anti-war group Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council, a uniquely silly municipal body. The controversy of the moment had to do with protests at a Marine recruiting center. Here's a little excerpt from the column:
At times like this it's hard not to wonder whether Code Pink and the Berkeley City Council aren't agents provocateurs, a kind of self-parody strike force sent by Dick Cheney to discredit opposition to the war. Four months ago, I praised the Berkeley City Council when it passed a creative plan to help residents install solar-energy systems in their homes. But for every piece of innovative thinking, there seem to be a dozen pieces of idiocy. Instead of asking themselves, "Is there anything we can do to make our schools better?" the council members ask, "Is there anything we can do to protest the war?" The answer is no. You're the city council of a small city in California. How about you take care of the potholes and worry about the war on your own time?
The column went on to argue that the kind of activism undertaken by Code Pink is particularly counterproductive. The group responded by sending a half-dozen of its members to my office to protest me, thereby proving my point. Unfortunately, I was out of the office at the time, but they left behind a certificate declaring me to be a member of the imperialist war machine or something. And no, I'm not kidding -- it was an actual certificate.
Why do I bring this up now? Because the Berkeley City Council is at it again:
An Army private jailed for allegedly leaking sensitive military data is a hero and should be freed, according to a resolution under consideration by the Berkeley City Council.
The council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to declare its support for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who's suspected of providing WikiLeaks with classified military documents and a video depicting an Army helicopter attack in Baghdad in which 11 civilians were killed.
I like Berkeley -- I've got friends and family who live there, and I've spent many a pleasant day in the city. Goaded on by the likes of Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly, your average conservative probably thinks that it's some kind of socialist nightmare, where crackheads get million-dollar government stipends and small-business owners are ritually beaten after being forced to eat pot brownies, which of course isn't true. But you know what the City Council could do to advance progressive goals? Instead of working to provide fodder for the kids on "Fox & Friends," they could do as good a job as possible at their job, which is to improve the lives of the people who live in Berkeley. That would show people that progressive governance works. How's that for an idea?
-- Paul Waldman