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Letters to the editor

America's 'kill list' and who's responsible for it; Jonah Goldberg's proposal of a U.N. for good guys; a Washington state senator's blog post in favor of gay marriage

February 12, 2012
  • Don Clinton, previous owner and son of Clifford Clinton, original owner of Clifton's Cafeteria, stands outside the cafeteria on Feb. 8. The cafeteria, under new ownership, is going to be restored.
Don Clinton, previous owner and son of Clifford Clinton, original owner… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

The joys of Clifton's

Re "Clifton's Cafeteria peels back the years," Feb. 9

What wonderful memories I have of the old Clifton's Cafeteria when I was a young boy around 1951.

I remember my mother patiently waiting for me to return home from my morning kindergarten class. We would take the trolley to downtown L.A.. My mother would shop, and we would end up at Clifton's for lunch.

Can you imagine what this 5-year-old thought of the rain-forest motif, the endless display of foods and (of course, my favorite) the row upon row of desserts?

I am now 65 years old, and my memories of those innocent days are with me forever. Once Clifton's reopens, I plan to take my granddaughter there and regale her with stories of this wonderful place.

Ronald Moya

La Verne

Our enemies are on the 'kill list'

Re "Who reviews the 'kill list'?," Opinion, Feb. 5

Doyle McManus wonders how the Obama administration can square its claim to have "the authority to kill U.S. citizens who are active in Al Qaeda" with "the Constitution's guarantee of due process."

McManus, however, fails to mention that the same Constitution that guarantees due process also authorizes Congress to approve the use of force against the nation's enemies and authorizes the president, as commander in chief, to direct the use of that force. In the weeks after the9/11attacks, Congress authorized the president "to use all necessary and appropriate force" against Al Qaeda and the nations or persons that aided it.

When the president directs the killing of the enemy in an authorized war, he may also order the killing of Americans who become combatants on the other side. The authority

to do so comes from the Constitution.

Joseph M. Bessette


The writer is a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

McManus asks a good question about the Obama administration's "kill list."

We as Americans have a stark choice: whether our nation is about the rule of law or the rule of empire. Sadly, it seems the latter is prevailing.

President Obama had no more legal power to kill Anwar Awlaki than President Lyndon Johnson had in going to war against North Vietnam. AndPresidentGeorge W. Bush lacked any legal justification for invading Iraq in 2003.

Ever since Congress abdicated its constitutional responsibility to declare war, we have invested in the imperial presidency. We now have presidents who, with impunity, invade countries, kill people and destabilize governments they don't like.

The republic is on life support.

Bob Teigan

Santa Susana, Calif.

International relations

Re "A U.N. — but for good guys," Opinion, Feb. 7

I agree with Jonah Goldberg's excoriation of the vetoes of the resolution to condemn Syria'spresident, and with much of his criticism of the United Nations, but not with his suggestion that we form a coalition of democratically oriented countries instead.

After World War I, America turned isolationist and doomed the League of Nations to impotence while Germany and Japan were marching us toward World War II. Only after that cataclysm was the United Nations formed to provide a means by which disputes among nations might be defused and wars among them avoided. It was never intended to reform the governments of its member states.

Non-democratic governments — whether pipsqueaks like Syria or great powers like China and Russia — have always made up the majority of the world's countries. In time that may change, as it has in Eastern Europe.

Herbert Kraus


I agree with Goldberg. What could be more constructive than an institution built to magnify self-determinist government?

Freedom is self-propagating. Individuals see it; they naturally want it; and they have the tools to incrementally achieve it every day, simply by acting in their own perceived self-interest, be that nearsighted or based on the long view. When people do ultimately overthrow their oppressors, they, not some occupying power, own the system and must support it with the passion that individuals bring to their most deeply held convictions.

A formal organization of representative governments could provide legitimate support to freedom fighters, build institutions in anticipation of a true global republic and could serve as a standard to which democratizing nations can (and will) aspire to join.

George Levin


A Christian conscience

Re "Faith-based tolerance," Editorial, Feb. 5

Washington state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen wrote in her blog post that she supports same-sex marriage because the issue is about "whether everyone has the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security that [she] enjoyed."

Under current Washington law, everyone already has "the same opportunities for love and companionship and family and security." The Washington domestic partnership law states that its provisions "shall be liberally construed to achieve equal treatment, to the extent not in conflict with federal law, of state registered domestic partners and married spouses."

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