• We do the Bridge-Walks on Saturday mornings assuming no rain or other commitments. We meet at 7:45 a.m. and begin walking to the Golden Gate Bridge at 8:00 a.m. It's okay to arrive late; you'll just have to catch up or meet us after the turn at Fort Point. 7:45 a.m. SFYC-Marina parking lot to GGB & return, assuming a decent weather forecast. This is a walk TO, not over, the bridge, and back.

  • Description: Unless otherwise noted, all walks proceed as follows: we begin at the parking lot shown as Yacht Road on Mapquest adjacent to the north end of the Marina Green next to the St. Francis Yacht Club. We meet at 7:45 a.m. and at 8:00 a.m. ambling towards the Golden Gate Bridge, which is about a mile-and-a-quarter away. If you're late, it's easy to catch up. The round trip takes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. There are comfort stations at each end. Snacks and a bookstore are at the Warming Hut near the Bridge. Plenty of birds and boats to see along the way. Bring a friend or child, a camera or binoculars. Dress for wind and weather. Drizzles don't bother, rainstorms will cancel. We talk about something, nothing, birds, plants, boats, whatever, and if it relates to Con-Law, so much the better, but that's not required. We enjoy ourselves, basically, by getting fresh air and taking a more or less brisk walk, depending on what stops we make to smell the flowers or view a bird.


  • Choose a work that you love and you won't have to work another day. Confucius
  • A sound mind in a sound body under a sound Constitution, that's our motto. rs
  • The key to nearly everything is a competent investigation, which means one conducted with integrity, an attempt to see where you might be wrong. RS w/ thanks to RPF
  • The key to creating an illusory world is a biased selection of facts according to a preconceived notion. - Thomas Sowell
  • The past isn't dead, it's all around you... rs
  • The past isn't dead. It isn't even past. -- Wm. Faulkner
  • If Constitutional Law doesn't get your dander up, you're not getting it. -- R. Sheridan
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, but remember, you are the easiest person to fool. -- Richard P. Feynman
  • No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. -- U.S. Constitution, Amends 5, 14
  • No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned,...or in any other way destroyed...except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. - Magna Carta
  • The only thing new under the sun is the history you don't know. -- Harry S Truman
  • Study the past if you would divine the future. -- Confucius







September 18, 2007



I see; the Marine general prevented the attack on Cuba by pointing out something of importance about Tarawa. Good point, Old Salt. The fact is that we were planning to invade Cuba. We, meaning the CIA, backed the Bay of Pigs invaders. Actually, according to the recent book about the Kennedy brothers, Jack and Bobby, entitled "Brothers," the CIA ran the training camps for the invaders. The hope seems to be that if they got in trouble, which they did, right away, the U.S. would use the regular military forces to back them up, which we didn't, thanks to JFK. This was a CIA operation formulated under Pres. Eisenhower. When JFK saw the mess, he accepted the egg on his face, which was considerable, rather than to invade. For this the CIA and the Anti-Castro Cubans have never forgiven him. Some think that one or both of these groups were behind the assassination of JFK. Although he involved us in Vietnam, first, I believe, it is reported that he lived long enough to regret it, and had he lived to see another term, would have pulled us out. It is a terrible shame that a president will prolong a war pending the next election. Our current president says that Iraq will be left to his successor. Going back to JFK, he is also reported to have said that he viewed it as his obligation to keep the country OUT of war. Any fool president can get us into one. I give you Mr. Bush-43 as the leading example, but why go on. Shortly I expect the economy to slide off a cliff and we won't be able to afford to keep troops in the sand.


In my lifetime there was only one war that was prevented by the White House and it was instigated by a Marine General. While reading this it is important to remember that the atoll of Tarawa is about the size of central park in New York City.

Early in the Kennedy administration, when there was talk about a U.S. invasion of Cuba, Gen. David M. Shoup, Marine commandant, gave President John Kennedy and his advisers a tutorial. David Halberstam wrote in "The Best and the Brightest":

"First he took an overlay of Cuba and placed it over the map of the United States. To everybody's surprise, Cuba was not a small island along the lines of, say, Long Island at best. It was about 800 miles long and seemed to stretch from New York to Chicago. Then he took another overlay, with a red dot, and placed it over the map of Cuba. 'What's that?' someone asked him. 'That, gentlemen, represents the size of the island of Tarawa,' said Shoup, who had won a Medal of Honor there, 'and it took us three days and 18,000 Marines to take it.' "


Very interesting comment, Mike, thank you.

Standing armies were the tool of tyrants, hence the Framers putting whatever army we may have had, or wanted to have, on a very short leash. U.S. Constution, Art. I, Sec. 8, Clause 11 gives Congress, not the president, "the power to declare war and... make rules concerning captures on land and water." Clause 12 gives Congress the power "To raise and support Armies but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years."

Navies were not as threatening. Marines were sailors who attacked other ships by climbing aboard when they came alongside one another. Air force? In 1787?

The fact of the matter is that we want the president, who can act faster, to be able to deploy our forces on an as needed basis during emergencies. What we don't want is for a president, or vice-president, to use an incident to launch attacks here and there on the pretext that the targets are somehow related to the attack when it turns out that the were not. It becomes a power grab. We may be seeing that today, depending on your understanding of the current situation.

It's one thing for the president to be able to act rapidly, even mistakenly, but it is a terrible thing when in doing so the president sets up a momentum that Congress cannot stop.

One of the seemingly natural reactions of committing troops who fight and bleed is that such sacrifice is used to justify further fighting, until some elusive, amorphous, undefined goal such as "victory" is achieved. The last time we saw a real victory was at the end of WWII respecting Germany, Japan and Italy, all of which capitulated. Before that there were WWI, the Spanish-American War of 1898, and the Civil War (Unconditional surrender, U.S. Grant). We think this is our God-given right, something like manifest destiny, code for we take your land and don't have to pay for it because, well, this is God's way and we're God's people. Everyone should pack such a defense, it would spare a lot of litigation.

Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq haven't gone the way of unconditional surrender; more like the enemy fights until we decide we've had enough, thank you. More than fifty years down the road and we don't have a peace treaty with those hard-heads the North Koreans. They probably think the same about us.

Vietnam? We skedaddled.

Iraq? Some of us would like to skedaddle but the rest of us want to see us fight to the last soldier, a losing game in a deal where we have 130,000 troops in the midst of millions who hate us and don't mind showing it.

To get back to the question, Justice Robert Jackson in a case called Youngstown Steel, explained how power works between the president and Congress. The power is divided between the two branches (with the Court generally letting the two duke it out as a political question issue for which the Court maintains a policy of hands off). If the president exercises power in sync with the express wishes of Congress, he's at his strongest. He's at his weakest, as in Youngstown, where Pres. Harry S. Truman's attempt to take over the steel mills during the Korean conflict ran against Congress's express wishes (it had considered but voted down a presidential power to take over plants to deal with labor disputes). The middle ground of presidential power is where Congress hasn't spoken. During the Civil war, Pres. Lincoln ordered the navy to "blockade" southern ports while Congress was not sitting. When Congress resumed session, sans the South, it voted to ratify what Lincoln had done.

Today's problem is that 46 senators voted to support the Webb bill a day or two ago which would have required the troops serving in Iraq to be kept home for as long as they'd been deployed, before sending them back. But 54 voted against, thus prolonging the war and supporting Pres. George W. Bush.

When 46% of the Senate votes against your war, there's something wrong with it, which is the reason for the suggestion to have a war amendment.

Mike Cheek

It has been my understanding that at one time there was an implicit agreement that the Navy and the Marines were the President's, the Army was Congress'. Perhaps nowadays the Air Force could "belong" to the President as well; the idea being that rapid response defense or rescues or so forth would need to be decided quickly. The invocation of the Army however implies sustained efforts and finances and Congress' explicit consent. Short of some kind of constitutional change such an understanding might help.

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