In Kim Willenson’s collected oral history of Vietnam, the most interesting perspectives often come from the senior and junior military officers. Reading the warnings of Admiral James B. Stockdale on the importance of “moral leverage” would have been extremely useful for members of the Bush administration, especially those who knew the evidence of WMD was in short supply.
Polls in the state are showing support, albeit reportedly shaky, for marijuana legalization:
California voters, by a modest margin, think they should be allowed to grow and consume marijuana, according to a new poll that also found more than 1 in 3 voters had tried pot and more than 1 in 10 had lit up in the past year.
The Los Angeles Times/USC poll found that voters back the marijuana legalization measure on the November ballot, 49% to 41%, with 10% uncertain about it. But support for the initiative is unstable, with one-third of the supporters saying they favor it only “somewhat.”
For anyone shaky on this issue, I can imagine where you are coming from. Perhaps you’re like Charles Krauthammer and don’t like the thought of living in a world where marijuana and other drugs are available readily in a drug store. To those who share Krauthammer’s concerns, remember that we live in a world of trade offs. We can remain living in a world where drugs are available in the seedy alley behind a local pharmacy, or move to a world where drugs are available safely from the neighborhood pharmacist.
The latest controversy of the day among many on the right, led principally by Liz Cheney and William Kristol, involves attacking Justice Department lawyers who represented alleged members of al Qaeda or the Taliban detained at Guantanmo Bay.
[L]awyers now at the DOJ worked on the historic Boumediene case. That case established the Gitmo detainees’ right to challenge their detention in habeas corpus hearings. In effect, the habeas proceedings have taken sensitive national security and detention questions out of the hands of experienced military and intelligence personnel, and put them into the hands of federal judges with no counterterrorism training or expertise. That lack of experience shows. For example, in one recent decision a federal judge compared al Qaeda’s secure safe houses (where training, plotting and other nefarious activities occur) to “youth hostels.” The habeas decisions are filled with errors of omission, fact, and logic.
Still other lawyers did work on behalf of these well known terrorists: Jose Padilla (an al Qaeda operative dispatched by senior al Qaeda terrorists to launch attacks inside America in 2002), John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban), and Saleh al Marri (who 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sent to America on September 10, 2001 in anticipation of committing future attacks).
Now, we don’t know what assignments these lawyers have taken on inside government. But we do know that they openly opposed the American government for years, on behalf of al Qaeda terrorists, and their objections frequently went beyond rational, principled criticisms of detainee policy.
It’s the last day of 2009. We made it through a crazy year that saw liberty put at risk on an all to regular basis. We decided the best way to recap the year was to take ten of 2009’s biggest stories and write a blurb about each one of them (we tried to keep it short and to the point).
Before you continue on, each of us here at UL want to thank you for a great 2009. We appreciate you reading. We’re planning for world domination in 2010 and hope that you’ll join in the fun.
So, here they are in no particular order, United Liberty’s Top 10 Stories from 2009.
Tea Party Movement (Brett Bittner): The wave of “hope” and “change” that swept Barack Obama into the Presidency of the United States closed out 2008 and opened the door to a new movement in American politics, the Tea Party movement. I believe that his election was merely a catalyst for many groups of a conservative nature and strong views on limited government to unite to form one voice to stand up to the political status quo, calling out Democrats and Republicans alike for their affinity to grow the size of government to a breaking point.
- Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award.
- The ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Update on Georgia pastor killed last month by police in Toccoa (mystery woman speaks out)
- America’s “War on Drugs”
- Kentucky police’s warrantless use of GPS devices to track locations and travels of suspects in ongoing investigations.
The legacy of Robert McNamara can’t be deduced at this early stage, and if anyone were to do it, a layman such as myself certainly wouldn’t be fit for the task. McNamara was at the levers of power during a time when the United States was embroiled in one of the most doomed enterprises of its history - the Vietnam war. In the documentary film The Fog of War, McNamara appears to lay alot of the blame at then President Lyndon Johnson’s feet, while other analysis lays the blame at the feet of technocrats like McNamara:
John Ralston Saul, in Volatire’s Bastards, makes McNamara a central character in his tale of how Western governments came to rely on a cult of credentialed, jargon-y experts to make decisions that were better left to politicians.
Like the anti-poverty policies laid out by Lyndon Johnson, Vietnam was an utter failure. It may not have been such an explosive phenomenon, leading to deaths on college campuses, Woodstock and future presidential candidate John Kerry throwing his purple hearts in public anger, if Johnson had understood what his successor Richard Nixon understood: that those kids out there protesting weren’t protesting American policy in Indochina, but were really just protesting their enlistment to fight on behalf of that policy. If a draft had been a factor during the Bush years, the bitter words hurled at Bush’s policies would have likely turned into bitter action.
I came across an article with a disturbing title, “Cheney: Execute Terrorists If Cuba Prison Must Close”, published by the conservative-leaning online publication Newsmax.
President Obama marked the 94th remembrance day for the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Turks during World War I. As a candidate, Obama called the killings genocide. On a trip to Turkey as president last month, he shied away from that description.
This may not seem like much, but it is a ballsy move on the part of President Obama to call what happened an “atrocity.” However, it’s not ballsy enough. Why is Obama unwilling to use the g-word now that he is president, while, as a senator, he called for President Bush to recognize Turkey’s crimes by sponsoring the Armenian Genocide Resolution?
Barack Obama got a little touchy over a question from The New York Times during a recent interview:
President Obama was so concerned that he may have mishandled a question from New York Times reporters about whether he was a socialist, that he called the paper to clarify his position. The president initially answered the question aboard Air Force One saying, “Let’s take a look at the budget, the answer would be no.”
The president explained he wanted a return to the tax rates of the 1990s by giving a tax-cut to 95 percent of workers. But the president may have felt that was too dismissive, and called the Times from the Oval Office explaining: “It was hard for me to believe that you were entirely serious about that socialist question… it wasn’t under me that we started buying a bunch of shares of banks. it wasn’t on my watch.”
By now, everyone is aware that Hamas has attacked Israel, though it was Israel itself which broke the ceasefire. I no longer have a television but I know the story is plastered on every major news network because it is also plastered on every political blog and social networking site. There is an entire network of supporters on both sides of the conflict insisting that their side is blameless and that the concerns of the other side are unremarkable. Both sides are spewing enough hyperbole and anger to warrant concern about fistfights breaking out stateside.
The conflict between Israel and it’s “neighbors” in Gaza and the West Bank is a great big mess that apparently has just one solution - according to a large group of foreign policy geniuses in America and Israel: more fighting.