An Assembly of Pieces

James Anderson Merritt's piecemeal thoughts and observations, and the occasional attempt to put some of the pieces together.
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All material except cited quotations Copyright (C) 2004-2008 by James Anderson Merritt. All rights reserved.
Saturday, March 01, 2003

The Santa Cruz Sentinel published another letter of mine, in which I took the opportunity to recommend votes for Libertarians:

Vote Libertarian, sleep well

Thumbs up to doctors who prescribe civic protest to reduce the anxiety and depression caused by the incessant drum-beat to war. Some of us, however, healed ourselves long ago. I haven’t lost any sleep over governmental folly since I started voting Libertarian.

My Libertarian vote is cleansing. It rejects the massive taxes that ultimately fund spurious military operations.

It declares us free to live our own lives as we choose, by refusing to authorize the police or military to do anything but protect us and our property from trespass and aggression.

It promotes integrity and common sense in government by endorsing candidates who oppose needless laws and taxes, and who will respect the rights of all citizens (primarily by minimizing the size and expense of government to the point where it cannot get away with abusing anyone’s rights, here or overseas).

Learn more about what your Libertarian vote means, at

Perhaps the strong medicine of massive protests can shock the body politic into remission, but too much of that cure might kill the patient.

Alternatively, you can protest with every ballot you cast, as Libertarians have done for over 30 years. For decades, it hasn’t mattered who won elections: Democrats and Republicans alike have delivered bigger, more expensive, more intrusive government, leading us, inexorably, to war.

Authoritarians must lose elections or we’ll all lose. Massive protest at the ballot box can break the fever. Vote Libertarian, for a change, so we can all get a good night’s rest.


Tuesday, February 25, 2003

With war perhaps only days away, I sent the following to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, via the email links provided at

Before You Make War...

February 25, 2003

Dear President Bush and Vice President Cheney-

Your oath of office requires you to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." The Constitution also requires a Congressional declaration of War. The proposed -- seemingly imminent -- attack on Iraq is not a police action, as our war in Korea was called. It is not in defense of an ally nation, as our wars in Vietnam and Kuwait were said to be. It is not the retaliation for an attack upon our soil, as was our entry into the Second World War. It is not even the chasing of terrorists who have attacked the US from a nation they were holding captive, as our war in Afghanistan was described. It is, as far as I can see, an aggressive action against a sovereign nation that, whatever its motivations and justifications, fully deserves the name "war," and which is subject to the constitutional requirement that war be declared by the Congress before the action is taken.

I do not believe that the Congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243; 116 Stat. 1498) amounts to the formal declaration of war that the constitution requires. The resolution that President Bush's father, President George H.W. Bush, used to invoke Military action in Kuwait in 1991, is also insufficient. Yet our troops are amassing in the middle east, and news accounts speculate that war is only days away.

Under the present circumstances, and absent a congressional declaration of war, I believe that attacking Iraq now would be a material breach of your oath of office; an improper assumption of the authority which, under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, resides solely with the Congress, and which cannot be transferred to the Executive via "Resolutions" such as Public Law 107-243; 116 Stat. 1498. In that event, I could not support your re-election to office, and could very easily see the point of impeachment.

I believe that the mechanisms that restrain the war making power of the United States are there to encourage a healthy debate among the people and their representatives, to ensure that every citizen understands and endorses, as much as possible, the necessity of going to war when it is truly necessary; conversely, the same mechanisms allow citizens time and opportunity to recognize when a war is unnecessary, and to stop the drumbeat, well before shots are fired. I believe that now is one of the latter occasions, and that the system seems to be working as designed. Please let it work. Please don't go to war unless and until you can convince the Congress in a straight-up floor vote, and in full view of the approving American citizenry, that a war is necessary.

Thank you for your time, and for considering my views. May fortune continue to favor the United States of America.

-James Merritt
Santa Cruz CA


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