Letters to the Editor: October 13, 2004
What About North Korea?
I just read your story about Fahrenhype. There were many interesting points that I was not familiar with, but you caught my attention near the end when you said that Bush's foreign policy toward North Korea is atrocious. I am very curious to hear your view on what would be a good policy toward North Korea.
I happen to know a little about Korea because I flew F-4 Phantom fighter-bombers for a year at Taegu, South Korea in 1980-1981, just after President Park was assassinated. I flew all over South Korea, including dropping 500-pound bombs in exercises near the DMZ. I visited Panmunjom just after the tunnels under the DMZ were discovered, and just after the "tree incident." That was when two U.S. Army officers were killed by North Korean guards inside the DMZ while leading a unit that attempted to trim a tree that was obstructing the border near the "bridge of no return." The tree was later trimmed by two U.S. soldiers who were covered by artillery and a dozen B-52s in a holding pattern. I also met a Korean girl and got married in Seoul, a marriage which lasted almost 22 years. I traveled around most of South Korea by bus and train, and visited the homes of many of my wife's relatives.
If you think the war in Iraq is a costly mistake, you should try starting a war with North Korea. North Korea has more mountains and taller ones than South Korea. The North Korean military has all their support installations and their aircraft maintenance hangars built into caverns inside the mountains, so they don't care about cruise missiles. They have 9000 howitzers along the border that can shell everything as far away as Seoul, which has about 13 million people. They don't care if they get surrounded and embargoed by the U.S. Navy because they only trade with a few countries like China and Iran anyway. They routinely let their people starve in peacetime for political convenience, so they don't care about economic sanctions. They don't care about the U.N., because they aren't a member. They have a million-man army whose soldiers grew up in huts without hot showers or running water or very much food. I was told that the North Korean military leaders despise U.S. soldiers and consider us to be pampered weaklings. An invasion of North Korea would be like invading Japan in World War II, except the defenders also have nuclear weapons and are developing ICBMs. I suspect that the big rush about Bush's missile defense system in Alaska is all about trying to neutralize a credible threat by North Korea to attack the U.S. with nuclear missiles if we invade them. Furthermore, we might end up in another war with China.
I think the foreign policy of the Bush administration is to have multi-lateral talks with North Korea so China and Russia and Japan don't get panicked. In the meantime the U.S. military is scrambling to develop and deploy anti-missile missiles and airborne lasers.
What exactly are your better ideas?
Philip Sagstetter, October 9, 2004
Ari Armstrong Replies
I did not only mention North Korea. I wrote, "While 'Fahrenhype' mentions such countries as Iran and Saudi Arabia, it doesn't mention Bush's current policy with respect to terrorists in those nations -- because Bush's policy is atrocious, as it is with respect to North Korea (not that Kerry's policy is any better)."
I think it's clear that Iran is a much greater threat, and that military action there would be less problematic (though still by no means remotely easy).
I appreciate Sagstetter's caution about North Korea. However, it is Bush who called North Korea a major threat -- part of the "axis of evil." Is Bush correct, and, if so, what is he doing about it?
I like the idea of anti-missile technology. However, that doesn't do us much good if it doesn't work or if North Korea sells a nuclear bomb to an Islamist terrorist cell that brings the bomb in by boat. That is the key question: does North Korea pose a real threat to American lives?
Secondarily, what is the most efficient way of dealing with the threat, if a serious threat is found to exist? I don't pretend to know. But I'm confident the policy of wringing our hands and hoping for the best is bound to lead to disaster.
As a general point, Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute plausibly argues most of our problems in Iraq are self-caused: we don't allow our soldiers to do their jobs. Thus, I think a general change in strategic thinking (basically, a focus on destroying the enemy) could very well help the U.S. achieve greater military success. I'll address more of Brook's thinking at a later time.
9/11 took me entirely by surprise. It didn't surprise everyone. Some people knew about the threat, even though they couldn't know how precisely it would manifest. Now I'm trying to play catch-up and learn about foreign policy as quickly as I reasonably can. American lives depend upon the U.S.'s foreign policy. We all have some responsibility in checking whether that policy makes sense.
Coors and Medical Marijuana
November 30 both Bo Shaffer and I spoke at Front Range Community College and brought up the federal vs. state issues concerning medical marijuana. A representative of the Coors campaign was present. In a discussion with him he stated that Coors would be against the fed interfering with the sovereignty of the state, but really couldn't address the issue of medical marijuana. He said that no one had asked before, so he didn't think that it was really an issue.
On October 1 Pete Coors spokesperson Cinamon Watson said, "Pete is opposed to the medical marijuana." There's a fast response for you.
If Coors is supportive of the rights of the state over the federal government, then how can he be in opposition to the people of his own state? In 2000 the people passed Amendment 20 which makes marijuana a legal drug for patients of those doctors that wish to "prescribe" it. They can't prescribe it, but can help their patients obtain licenses for it. [Editor's note: doctors cannot prescribe marijuana for medical purposes, though they can recommend it according to state law.]
What is Coors against? The licensing or the use? Is Pete Coors against the will of the people of Colorado, and against federal law enforcement from usurping the authority of our state? Can't have it both ways Pete. Make up your mind.
Paul Tiger, Publications Director of NORML for Boulder
Coors the Hypocrite
I guess Coors doesn't want any competition for his drug business.
What a hypocrite!
I think it is disgraceful for governments to get into bed with some drug pushers and demonize others. Personally, I think drugs and drug users are lame people.
I learned a long time ago -- when people are being rebellious, let 'em go and let 'em take the consequences of their actions. We do not need a "daddy" state or a "mommy" state which is what the whiners want -- and someone to take care of them their entire lives.
Give me liberty or give me a way out of town...
Russ Shaw, MA, Lt. Col., USAF(Ret), October 1, 2004
Coors and Guns
This was a very good example of just how the Brady Bunch loves to twist things so that their agenda appears reasonable. Lies, innuendo, and childish remarks reveal the fallacy of virtually all of their positions.
I really dislike being seen by many as a single issue voter. However, I feel so strongly about gun control that for the first time since 1980 I will not be voting a straight Libertarian ticket.
Colorado LP, get a clue!
Patrick Sperry, September 17, 2004
Debating Amendment 36
Thanks for the coverage Ari. This is a hot button topic and it needs voters to opine.
I haven't changed my mind about Amendment 36, but the banter is interesting.
Want I would want to see in the long run is the complete dissolution of the electoral college. The ideal that "every vote counts" is more of a lie than an ideal. When we hear the government tell us that "every vote counts" what is really being said is that every electoral vote counts, not your vote.
This is a system that needs reform. It actually needs demolishment, but I think that the only way that we can get to that is through reform first. So why not try some?
Ari has said "...the media will likely add a few lines that some guy, fairly well-known in Colorado but unheard of in the rest of the nation, earned a single electoral vote and had an inconsequential impact on the election."
Well that has a ring of truth to it, but it is also short sighted. The LP has been earning good marks in the press in Colorado. Not just the independent press, but the major populist press as well. Readers would be able to see that the LP has become a "player" and is showing up on the map. This would give them the impetus to vote for Libertarians. Not just in the presidential race, but in local and congressional races as well. Ari said that "...the media will likely..." I don't believe that Ari knows what the media will do. None of us do. I think that the media will likely make a big thing out of the LP candidate gaining an electoral vote.
Colorado is the birthplace of the Libertarian Party. We've been innovative in every area of lawmaking and are well-know in congressional circles and in the national press for independent moves as a state. In the case of changing the way in which the electoral college works, Colorado would not be the first. Nebraska and Maine have already made this change now proposed by amendment 36. Maine tends towards libertarian ideals, but Nebraska? Hardly.
Do I think that we have much of a chance in electing a Libertarian president any time soon? No, not really. But I believe that the vast majority of voters can be alerted to the presence of our party if we gain some ground, and this is a way to do that. Ralph Shnelvar and a few others have expressed that this move will marginalize Colorado in the presidential races. I believe that it will do exactly the opposite. Let's say that it works out that there were four votes for the Republican and four for the Democrat and one for a Libertarian. That one electoral vote for a Libertarian would be big news to the uninformed masses. Even if the electoral college voted all but one for the Republicans (more likely the scenario in Republican controlled Colorado) the one outstanding electoral vote for a Libertarian or any third party would be a wake up call to Republicans that there is a change on the wind.
Paul Tiger, September 22, 2004
Ari Armstrong Replies
Unfortunately, Tiger does not address any of my arguments about why the electoral college is a good thing and definitely should not be abolished. Nor does Tiger address my point that Amendment 36 seeks to impose retroactive law, which is wrong regardless of what one might think of the electoral college. (Nor would Amendment 36 impose a system like the ones in Nebraska and Maine, as Tiger claims.)
Any impact of Amendment 36 on the Libertarian Party is trivial when weighed against the severe harms of that proposal. But there wouldn't be any real benefits for the LP, anyway. The Green Party is the group most likely to benefit. Even if a Libertarian candidate could capture a single electoral vote, would the media care very much? Why should they? One electoral vote out of 538 is 0.18% of the total. Why should anyone care whether a candidate gets 0.18% of the electoral vote? If anything, voters are as likely to avoid voting Libertarian in order to avoid "wasting" that electoral vote.
Those who vote for Amendment 36 because they think it will help the LP are not only delusional, they are willing to sell out principles of good government for their party's supposed gain. Libertarian supporters of 36 have nothing to do with a "Party of Principle."
Thanks for the Blue Book [Election Notice] reminder. I was able to track down the place to send my responses after seven calls, starting with the Jeffco Clerk. The clerk said that they didn't know which initiatives were going to be on the ballot! Any rate, thanks to your reminder, there will be substantial arguments against a $324 million dollar bond issue and a $40 million dollar/year mill levy.
If this is stopped it will be a victory for liberty. But it's a shame that a "victory" is just holding the line at our current outrageous taxation rates.
Mike Spalding, September 17, 2004
Ari Armstrong Replies
Congratulations on making a difference, Mike.
Douglas Bruce reminds me only the state book is called the "Blue Book," and information about local issues is mailed separately.
The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, part of the Colorado Constitution, states: "At least 30 days before a ballot issue election, districts shall mail at the least cost, and as a package where districts with ballot issues overlap, a titled notice or set of notices addressed to 'All Registered Voters' at each address of one or more active registered electors...
"[N]otices shall include... [t]wo summaries, up to 500 words each, one for and one against the proposal, of written comments filed with the election officer by 45 days before the election. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements of or resolutions against the proposal... The election officer shall maintain and accurately summarize all other relevant written comments."
Notices for statewide issues are handled separately. For local issues, people must submit comments to the government offices related to the election in question. For example, comments about a county issue must be submitted to county offices, while comments about a city issue must be submitted to city offices. So mark your calendars for 45 days prior to the next election.