Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Parties will sue over I-872

The Tacoma News Tribune reports today that the political parties will sue to invalidate Initiative 872, the so-called "top two" primary election system in Washington State. Briefly, the Republicans have given the state officials notice of their intent to nominate candidates by caucus and convention, and to seek removal of any candidate claiming Republican affiliation who hasn't been so nominated.

At issue is the right to determine the political party "message" in elections. Can Mike the Mover run for public office under the Libertarian label without approval from the Libertarian Party? Alternatively, can Mark Wilson, who has been a candidate as both a Libertarian and a Green, run for U.S. Senate as a Democrat? On the flip side: Should State Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt or State Republican Party Chair Chris Vance be allowed to participate in the nomination of Libertarian or Green candidates?

When one looks at the history of court opinions it seems pretty obvious that political parties have the right to identify their own messages and control their own internal operations. State officials, meanwhile, are confident that the "top two" system will survive the litigation.

For those who haven't been watching, a more or less balanced overview of the history and the issues (save that the LP isn't mentioned at all), prepared by a Seattle Weekly writer, can be found here.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Louisiana's 'open primary' system called "best incumbent protection arrangement in the country" by state legislator.

The Seattle P-I has this story about two bills introduced in the Louisiana legislature to abandon the state's election system for Congressional seats. Washington's "top-two" primary was modeled after the Louisiana system. The legislators in Louisiana argue that Louisiana's system reduces state influence in within the beltway.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

What a difference a name makes

In Skamania County, former Libertarian candidate Jim "J.R." Richardson was elected County Commissioner in 2004 as a Republican. Richardson narrowly lost 2000 in his bid for County Sheriff as a Libertarian.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New York Times article ignites firestorm of controversy over libertarian constitutional theory

The lead article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, The Unregulated Offensive, openly wonders whether President Bush will nominate Clarence Thomas to be Chief Justice when William Rehnquist retires, and what it might mean if he does. In an extremely long article law professor Jeffery Rosen describes libertarian constitutional theories and then speculates what a return to a pre-New Deal jurisprudence might look like.

According to Slate bloggers on both the left and right have been having a field day with the article. Central to the debate are two questions: (1) why the Times would print the article at all, and (2) whether a return to pre-New Deal jurisprudence would really result in a dismantling of the welfare state, as the author implies.

While the article does cast libertarian theories in a relatively negative light, it nonetheless provides an adequate summary of libertarian constitutional views. I'm reminded of a comment made by former LNC chair Jim Turney (gosh-nearly 20 years ago!) about negative press for the libertarian movement. He said, "So little is known about us that even bad news is good news." Obviously, that approach will not carry the day, but the mere fact that libertarian ideas are a lead story in a leading newspaper is something to be happy about.

And while many New Deal programs might be at risk under review by a libertarian supreme court, the chances of that happening upon the nomination of a new Chief Justice are near zero. On the current court only Thomas and Anthony Kennedy have demonstrated libertarian sympathies, and only inconsistently at that. Adding one more is still a minority. The most the libertarians might hope for is to stem the tide of regulation that erodes the individual rights that made this country great.

Monday, April 18, 2005

White House targets Cantwell - Vance predicts suit over I-872

According to the Seattle Times, the White House is already making plans to challenge Washington Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell. Its top choice is Dino Rossi.

If Rossi declines, candidates under consideration are former Represenative Rick White, Vance, and former Slade Gorton aide Mike McGavick. But the White House has told state Republican Chairman Chris Vance that it didn't want a "messy primary."

Vance told the Times that there will be lawsuits challenging the top-two primary system recently approved by voters. "We intend to nominate and name our candidate on the floor of the convention" in summer 2006, Vance said.

Meanwhile, Cantwell has already raised near 2 million for her reelection bid.

As with last year's governor's race, this could be a close one, and the presence of a Libertarian could tip the balance.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

"Gmail" privacy policy challenged

In a lengthy FAQ the Electronic Privacy Information Center recommends against using Google's newly introduced "Gmail" service. According to EPIC:

"Non-subscribers who e-mail a Gmail user have "content extraction" performed on their e-mail even though they have not consented to have their communications monitored, nor may they even be aware that their communications are being analyzed. Subscribers to Gmail also face risks to their privacy..."

Given the near exponential increase in data collection as the information age takes root one's privacy is being increasingly assaulted, by government as well as commercial entities. While some of this can't be avoided, there is no reason we should be volunteering to share our private thoughts with those who want to sell us something.

EPIC recommended these Top Ten Privacy Resolutions for 2005. Good advice indeed.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Democratic Senator Jacobsen - out of step with the people

This past January, Washington State Senator Ken Jacobsen (D-46) introduced SJR 8201 Amending the Constitution to remove initiatives and referenda powers.

That's right. This guy wants to take away the power of the people to write their own laws and to veto legislative action.

Jacobsen has been in the legislature since 1987 and is now one of the most powerful Democrats in Olympia. Unfortunately his term ends in 2007 and voter memories are short. But this is one matter we should never forget. We have 2 years to figure out how to replace him.