Search This Blog

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Marriage Amendment

To the Editor:
I agree with Adrian Walker (It's time to move on, Boston Globe, Novemebr 6th, 2006: B1) that it is time to move on and to allow gay and lesbian citizens of the Commonwealth to retain their constitutional rights.

However I disagree with his statement that we should accomplish this through "any means necessary." Ends rarely justify means.

He is wrong to state that there is no law to compel the members of the Constitutional Convention to vote on the Marriage Amendment. The Constitution specifies that a ballot initiative which gains sufficient signatures, which the Marriage Amendment did, has to receive a vote from the Constitutional Convention. It also specifies that if the Convention adjourns without voting on the issue, then the Governor must call the Convention back into session until the issue is voted on.

So there is no escape for our legislators: they must vote on the issue. I trust that, despite the pressures they are  under, they will vote against a Constitutional amendment to restrict the rights of any citizen of the Commonwealth.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Your columnist Mark Leibovich notes a variety of answers to the critical Jeopardy question for the November 7th crowd: Why did you vote for the Iraq war?( New York Times, October 21st, 2006: Section 4, pages1 and 4)

He fails to appreciate the truly accurate answer of Joseph Biden: the legislators did not vote for war; they voted to give the President the option of going to war.

You see at that time, it was a vote designed to give the President leverage in calling Iraq to account before the United Nations. It exemplified realpolitik at its best.

It is hard to remember the sequence of events from 2001 to the beginning of the war on March 20th 2003. Up until November 2002 (that is until the President had the support of the Senate and House of Representatives through the vote) the Iraqis refused to allow UN inspectors to undertake inspections for Weapons of Mass Destruction on Iraqi territory. By the end of November, inspections under the direction of Hans Blix were under way. The vote to grant the President war powers had achieved its purpose, the Iraq regime was being called to account for its actions.

We have forgotten too that Hans Blix called on the US and Britain to give his inspectors the "hard intelligence" that they claimed to possess so that his inspectors could go to check out that information on the ground. The failure of the US and Britain to do so should have roused our suspicions that all was not well with the intelligence -- its invalidity has been amply demonstrated in the past years.
Where we went wrong -- the Senate, and the House, and the country, and all of us -- was the failure to recognize the importance of the inspector's reports in mid February 2003 that there was no evidence of WMD in Iraq, so that we were in no immanent danger from Iraq. That should have led to a re-evaluation of the war power resolution and its potential repeal based on the changed situation. We failed to do so and we are reaping the tragic consequences today.

But you, who have attacked President Bush for his failure to understand the nuance in the situation, should have made sure your columnist recognized the nuance implicit in the vote for the war option and should be educating your readers about the realpolitik aspects of that vote, not sneering at those who are trying to explain their actions with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Rumsfeld's army

To the Editor

Donald Rumsfeld was not quite accurate when he said: Hey you go to war with the army you've got (T. L. Friedman, Insulting our troops and our intelligence, New York Times, November 3, 2006: A27).

What he should have said was: you go to war with the army I gave you.

According to Cobra II and Fiasco, Rumsfeld abandoned the Army's carefully Time Phased Force and Deployment Lists for both Afghanistan and Iraq. These lists are developed so that the right kinds of troops are deployed to the battlefield at the right time. By abandoning these plans, the civilian managers in Defence Department substituted their own judgement for those of the troop commanders. As a result, not only did we not have enough troops, we did not have the right kinds of troops on the ground. We are paying the price for that today.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to take Mr Friedman's advice and vote to throw the rascals out. I do not become an American citizen until November 8th. 2006.