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

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."

There is already a statutory provision guaranteeing equal rights for same-sex couples. What inequality is defining marriage supposed to resolve?

Michael Ejercito

Long Beach

In the increasingly fundamentalist, dogmatic and activist world of American Christianity, Haugen takes a thoughtful and humble stand that speaks of a better understanding of spirituality, human nature and Jesus' teachings than those who seek to encode their religious beliefs into our legal system.

The alarming and unholy march of religion into American politics raises the question: Whatever will God do on Judgment Day when all of our opportunities for making the "wrong" decisions have been removed?

Juliet Hotchkiss

Oak Park

Boardwalk blues

Re "An open Venice boardwalk," Editorial, Feb. 5

The Times has it all wrong. Has anyone from The Times visited after dark lately? For the last year, there has been a

de facto curfew at the Venice boardwalk imposed by the thugs and homeless youth who have taken away the rights of others to enjoy the area after dark.

Fights break out on a regular basis, and rowdy bands of young transients party recklessly, intimidate residents and trash the area. Once the boardwalk is officially closed, those who are enjoying the current party-like atmosphere may actually seek the help they need and avoid becoming chronically homeless.

Closing the area at night is far from overkill; it's overdue for residents who long to see the boardwalk return to a safe, clean and fun area.

Tracy Scruggs


Coal's costs

Re "Coal mine breeds angst at both ends of the supply line," Feb. 7

This article frames the debate as low-cost coal versus the environment. That's not right.

Low-cost coal is a thing of the past. Overdue regulation of toxic side effects and massive greenhouse gas emissions will raise the cost of burning coal at Utah's Intermountain Power Project to unacceptable levels. That's why the plant managers are thinking about converting to natural gas.

If getting off coal by 2020 is a "herculean" task, as L.A. Department of Water and Power chief Ron Nichols says, let's go for it. The DWP can be herculean when it wants to be.

Jim Ralston

Los Angeles

Buy American

Re "Sending factory work overseas is not the easy road," Column, Feb. 8

Michael Hiltzik's column would have been complete if he had mentioned why outsourced labor is much cheaper in China.

Everyone knows that the inhumane treatment of workers — low pay, long working hours, no benefits and unsafe working conditions — is China's main "advantage."

If we require our soldiers to be humane to our enemies, why can't we require American businesses to do the same to workers overseas?

In the meantime, as my small contribution to the survival of the U.S. economy, I will continue to buy American.

Perla Manapol


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