The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

The Lighthouse®

The Lighthouse® is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 6, Issue 49: December 6, 2004

  1. Rumsfeld's Quagmire
  2. Medical Marijuana and Interstate Commerce
  3. 12/7/41 -- A Date That Will Live in Infamy

1) Rumsfeld's Quagmire

Some pundits called Ronald Reagan the "Teflon" president after the Iran-Contra scandal failed to reduce his popularity in the polls; the scandal just didn't "stick" to him. Lately, some have been referring to the defense secretary as Teflon Don Rumsfeld -- responsibility for the failures in Iraq having similarly failed to stick. Last week Bush announced that Rumsfeld will be serving during the president's second term.

Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at the Independent Institute, highlights some of these failures in his latest op-ed, "Rumsfeld's Muddy Quagmire."

First, Rumsfeld and the Iraq war planners underestimated the adversary -- guerrilla warfare being a highly labor-intensive strategy to combat -- some in the military had expressed skepticism of the relatively low troop numbers the Pentagon sent to Iraq and were penalized for saying so. They got it right, but Rumsfeld got it wrong.

Second, at a time when retaining the Baathist Iraqi security forces might have helped prevent the looting and unrest, the Pentagon disbanded them and instead re-built local security from scratch. "The new Iraqi forces have proven themselves to be unreliable, incompetent, and sometimes in bed with the guerrillas," writes Eland.

Third, the Pentagon's tactics in insurgent strongholds such as Falluja have been heavy-handed and may be contributing to losing the "hearts and minds" of Iraqi citizens. "Destroying [Falluja] may very well prove to be a rallying point for the guerrillas," writes Eland.

"If the president fired Rumsfeld, an American public that slumbered through the election might finally realize the true dismal state of the war. Instead, like a deer caught in the headlights, Bush naively and unwisely believes that by retaining the charismatic face of his Iraq policy, he can hide his and Rumsfeld's failure long enough to figure out what to do. Instead, he should fire Rumsfeld and hire someone who can begin to extricate the United States from this muddy quagmire."

See "Rumsfeld's Muddy Quagmire," by Ivan Eland (12/6/04)

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed,
by Ivan Eland, see

Center on Peace & Liberty

Ivan Eland's speaking engagements:

-- December 11th, 7pm: Ivan Eland will be speaking at the Alameda
Public Affairs Forum. 1300 Grand Street, Alameda, CA. He will also be
signing copies of his new book. For details, please call 510-814-9592.


2) Medical Marijuana and Interstate Commerce

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in a case in which the federal government claims that the Constitution's Commerce Clause allows it to prohibit the medicinal use of marijuana. How does the pot smoking of two ill women -- Angel Raich and Diane Monson, whose physicians prescribed them marijuana -- qualify as an activity regulated under the Commerce Clause?

Independent Institute Research Fellow William J. Watkins, Jr. explains Commerce Clause jurisprudence in his latest op-ed, "Commerce Abuse."

"The cannabis at issue is grown using only soil, water, nutrients, tools, and supplies made or originating in California," writes Watkins, author of RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. "In other words, it is an intrastate, agricultural activity. But in the world of Commerce Clause jurisprudence, if a local activity affects or could affect the national economy, Congress claims the power to regulate it under the commerce power.

The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to "regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes" (Article 1, Section 8). In THE FEDERALIST PAPERS, however, Madison and Hamilton made it clear that the clause did not pertain to local agriculture. But in 1942, the Supreme Court reasoned that even local agriculture, grown solely for a farmer's own use, could affect interstate commerce because if several farmers grew for home use, this would alter crop prices.

"In recent years, the Supreme Court has attempted to impose some limits on the commerce power," writes Watkins, citing its rulings against two lower court decisions that relied upon the Commerce Clause. But because those decisions left the 1942 precedent intact, the upcoming medicinal marijuana case may have far-reaching implications.

Writes Watkins: "California is but one of nine states that permit use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. And in these nine states there are many individuals like Raich and Monson who depend on cannabis to relieve their chronic conditions. We can only hope that the Court continues to limit Congress' abuse of the Commerce Power. Principles of federalism, individual liberty, and compassion all counsel a ruling in favor of Raich and Monson."

See "Commerce Abuse," by William J. Watkins Jr. (12/6/04)

For information about RECLAIMING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions and Their Legacy By William J.
Watkins Jr., see

For the transcript of the Independent Policy Forum, "The Truth About
Medical Marijuana," with Donald I. Abrams, Edwin Dobb,
Robert J. MacCoun, and Ed Rosenthal, see


3) 12/7/41 -- A Date That Will Live in Infamy

December 7th marks the anniversary of the Japanese military attack on Pearl Harbor, "a date that will live in infamy," as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it.

But there is more than one reason why that date should never be forgotten.

The official story is that Japanese warships, en route to the Hawaiian Islands, retained radio silence, while Japanese decoy radio signals were sent to deceive the U.S. military into believing that the ships were still berthed in Japan. According to Independent Institute Media Fellow Robert B. Stinnett, however, neither of these claims is true.

U.S. military intelligence was not fooled by the decoy signals, and the Japanese warships broke radio silence. No less an authority than Commander Joseph J. Rochefort, former commander of the Pacific Fleet radio intelligence center, explained that in his oral history conducted by the U.S. Naval Institute. Furthermore, Stinnett even reproduces an eight-point action plan, written in 1940 by Lieutenant Commander Arthur H. McCollum, spelling out how best to provoke the Land of the Rising Sun:

"It is not believed that in the present state of political opinion the United States Government is capable of declaring war against Japan without more ado," wrote McCollum, who concluded his proposed eight steps with the following sentence: "If by these means Japan could be led to commit an overt act of war, so much the better."

For more on Pearl Harbor, see:

"The Pearl Harbor Deception," by Robert B. Stinnett (12/2/02)

"Pentagon Still Scapegoats Pearl Harbor Fall Guys," Robert B. Stinnett (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 12/7/01)

"December 7, 1941: A Setup from the Beginning," by Robert B. Stinnett (HONOLULU ADVERTISER, December 7, 2000)

"Do Freedom of Information Act Files Prove FDR Had Foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor? An Interview with Robert B. Stinnett," by Douglas Cirignano

To read or hear Robert B. Stinnett's address to the Independent Policy Forum, "Pearl Harbor: Official Lies in an American War Tragedy?" see

Also see, "The Oval Office Liars' Club," by Robert Higgs (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 12/24/02)


  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless