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Bust of Dianne Feinstein

It's Time to Step Down Dianne

Provide an opportunity for a new person who will, hopefully, be more aligned with California values

•••••••••• January 3, 2023 ••••••••••

We have been deceived. Senator Dianne Feinstein is a Republican masquerading as a Democrat. It's not just that (in an affront to all San Franciscans) she hugs Lindsay Graham, a truly reprehensible human being, but, more importantly, she has defended, championed and confirmed the very worst of the Republicans, from Condoleezza Rice who lied about Iraq's WMD to Amy Coney Barrett who lied her way onto the Supreme Court. Is this the kind of leadership we want from our senior Democratic senator?

Here is the headline from the December 20, 2022, edition of Common Dreams: “ will see no sign of new funding to revive the short-lived expansion of the Child Tax Credit, which reduced poverty among children in the U.S. by more than 40 percent when it was in force between 2020 and last year. So as the Pentagon is set to receive a mind-boggling $858 billion for missiles, warships, drones, and bombs, we can't find a measly $12 billion to slash poverty for the nation's neediest children and their families.” Where was Feinstein in the fight to allocate more funds away from the bloated military budget and towards social programs? I don't recall her making a stand for the expansion of the Child Tax Credit but she was able to vote for an expansion of the defense budget.

Feinstein has been an enthusiastic supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I would like to hear how those wars benefited the families of California. How have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq benefited your family? Or our country for that matter? The result I see is homeless, desperate and mentally ill veterans on our streets uncared for. Did the wars make us safer? No; we are in a worse situation than before. The world is a more dangerous place. If we had been made safer, the defense budget would be going down, not up. Think of how the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on those ill-conceived and disastrously executed wars might have benefited the American people. We might have put an end to child hunger.

quote marks

Feinstein has been an enthusiastic supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I would like to hear how those wars benefited the families of California? ... The result I see is homeless, desperate and mentally ill veterans on our streets uncared for.”

"1 in 4 San Francisco residents is at risk of hunger due to low income," according to the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health website, The Food Security Task Force. Try a Google search for "children hungry in San Francisco." You will see a long list of ads for nonprofits asking you to donate: Donate to No Kid Hungry; Help End Hunger In SF-Marin; Fight Hunger in San Francisco - More Than a Soup Kitchen. Hunger is not decreasing despite the best efforts of all nonprofits. It is a disgrace that the federal government and Senator Feinstein haven't made a dent in this. Google "What Hunger Looks Like in California.'' and you will get this answer. "In California, 3,571,920 people are facing hunger - and of them 1,165,400 are children. 1 in 8 children face hunger."

Rep. Frank Pallone
Rep. Frank Pallone, NJ

Feinstein is not the only Democrat voting for war and massive defense budgets. Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic Representatives are falling all over themselves to give money to the weapons industry. Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey told the world, from the forum of COP26, that increasing the Pentagon budget was a good way to fight climate change. Yes, you read that correctly. Congressman Pallone thinks that we can help fight climate change by increasing the Pentagon budget. He has just been told, by Abby Martin of the Empire Files, that the Pentagon is a bigger polluter than 140 countries combined and was exempt from the COP26 climate talks. Ms. Martin then asked, how we can justify an increase to an already massive Pentagon budget.

The question was put to Nancy Pelosi but Rep. Pallone couldn't wait to jump in and volunteered to answer. "There is no reason why what we're putting together with Build Back Better and other things can't respond to the Defense Dept. and have some impact in terms of reducing emissions." What, exactly, is he saying? How does this address the issue of pollution or the massive Pentagon budget? Compounding his Orwellian doublespeak, Rep. Pallone goes on to say, "I don't see what we're doing, in any way or, you know, increasing the defense budget as being something that's inconsistent with climate action." If anyone can explain to me how this works I would appreciate it.

Not only is the Pentagon exempt from any resolution coming out of COP26, it is also exempt from EPA regulations. It is free to pollute as much as it wants and there are no consequences. If another country polluted our land, air and water the way our military has, we'd declare it a terrorist act. One example was recently reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"Amid a continuing crisis over fuel contaminating the Navy's tap water at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu's water utility said Friday it shut off one of its wells so it doesn't taint its own supply with petroleum from an underground aquifer it shares with the military. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said it acted shortly after the Navy on Thursday disclosed that a water sample from one of its wells had shown the presence of petroleum. The well is near a giant World War II-era underground fuel tank complex that has been the source of multiple fuel leaks over the years. The tap water problems have afflicted one of the military's most important bases, home to submarines, ships, and the commander of U.S. forces in the Indo-Pacific region. They also threaten to jeopardize one of Honolulu's most important aquifers and water sources. Nearly 1,000 military households have complained about their tap water smelling like fuel, or of physical ailments like stomach cramps and vomiting. The Navy water system serves 93,000 people. Nearly 1,000 military households have complained about their tap water smelling like fuel, or of physical ailments like stomach cramps and vomiting. The Navy water system serves 93,000 people. (Honolulu utility shuts well to prevent fuel contamination by Audrey McAvoy, Associated Press)

You really have to ask if throwing money at the Pentagon is the way forward on climate change

Feinstein supports increased spying on Americans and the abrogation of our constitutional rights. She is a strong proponent of the surveillance state. In 2005 Feinstein voted along with the GOP to renew 14 of the 16 expiring provisions of the Patriot Act and make them permanent." (Wikipedia) "In the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., joined Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in introducing their renewal legislation. (SFGate, Edward Epstein, Chronicle Washington Bureau July 14, 2005.)

Feinstein is not the person to best represent the interests of California or the United States. She has always been a hardliner on drug policy, a supporter of prohibition and draconian sentencing laws. If you wonder how we ended up with the prison/industrial complex, private for-profit prisons and the resulting devastation to the families of poor people, especially people of color, you can look at Feinstein's record. If it was up to her, marijuana would still be illegal. She has been out of touch with California's needs and sentiments, in this respect, for decades.

Feinstein was a big supporter of Hillary Clinton; in fact, you could say she was instrumental in Hillary being the candidate against Trump. When Obama was being anointed as the Democratic Party standard bearer Hillary was told she would have to step aside for now. Her turn would come later. Eight years later it was Hillary's turn and Feinstein was going to make sure she got it. After all, wasn't she entitled to it? But really, Feinstein was a handmaiden; it was Hillary's overweening pride and ambition, her sense of entitlement that she should be the first woman president that brought us the debacle of Donald Trump. Joe Biden would have won if he had been the candidate. Bernie Sanders would have won. Aside from the old guard, where were all the young, committed, intelligent and progressive Democrats that might have run? They, along with Joe and Bernie, had been locked out, frozen out and marginalized so that Hillary, the chosen one, and her select cadre of Democrats, including Feinstein, could rule.

Feinstein was very much involved in the 2014 defeat of the popularly supported "Proposition H" in San Francisco which would have banned artificial turf in Golden Gate Park. She prominently endorsed "Proposition I" and her "Argument in Favor of Proposition I" led the endorsements on our local San Francisco ballot. The effect of "Proposition I" was to nullify "Proposition H." The shredded tires used in the turf have been the subject of many studies worldwide. In almost all cases, the toxicity of the tire crumb was found to exceed the allowed exposures for children. If you want to know more about the battle to get SBR (ground-up tire waste) out of our parks, playing fields and playgrounds go to Safe Healthy Playing Fields to read more. I wrote to Feinstein about this and here is what she replied:

"Dear Mr. Romano,

Thank you for writing to me regarding ballot "Proposition H," which dealt with synthetic turf and nighttime lighting in municipal parks but was rejected by San Francisco voters in 2014. Note that I have not sat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors since 1978. As such, I was not involved in this local 2014 ballot proposition(my bolding)."

Clearly, Senator Feinstein was suffering from forgetfulness or a "convenient" memory loss when she wrote to me. Or perhaps it's just that what happens in Golden Gate Park is of no importance to her. I expected better since San Francisco is, after all, her hometown.

Senator Feinstein could still do one valuable service for California; she could step down and provide an opportunity for a new person who will, hopefully, be more aligned with California values. Values like peace, protecting the environment, caring for our citizens in need and also those fleeing persecution, ending the incarceration of poor people caught up in the war on drugs and taking marijuana off the federal Schedule I list (Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.) It appears the federal government doesn't yet know about medical marijuana. It's time, I think, to move on.

We're not getting the leadership we need to meet the challenges of today: climate change, making the world a less dangerous place, ending child hunger,  lessening income and gender inequality.  We can do better.

David Romano is an environmental activist living near Ocean Beach

January 3, 2023

David Romano.
David Romano

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