Washington Libertarian Review

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

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Somewhere a band is playing the Star Spangled Banner

Here we are in yet another Memorial Day weekend originated to commemorate the Civil War dead. But all is not peaceful in the world.

According to Andrew Bernstein of the Ayn Rand Institute "the United States is engaged in a war against fanatics who represent the extreme of intellectual, religious and political suppression. Freedom is unknown and utterly alien in the countries that support terrorists. They feel threatened by our most cherished principles and institutions, and so they seek to destroy us."

Berenstein even goes so far as to suggest that this "war" is a war of defense, as if the United States is really under threat of destruction. Yet, very curiously, he implicitly acknowledges the US has the power to prevail in such a war, "if President Bush has the moral conviction to permit our soldiers to fully wage war." So, the questions must be: How serious can this threat be? And if the threat is serious, how much force is appropriate to combat it?

I don't mean to belittle the horror of the September 11, 2001 attack on the New York World Trade Center, or the fact that there are indeed fanatics in the world who hate the US. But the fact is that the destruction of the WTC was orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, not Saddam Hussein. And all of President Bush's highminded efforts to capture the former have yielded to torture tactics, and not merely against the people, but also against their fundamental beliefs, all under cover of willful ignorance.

This is not a war of defense. It is a war of hegemony, designed to implement what has become known as the Bush Doctrine. The Bush Doctrine represents a radical departure from prior foreign policy, and may even be loosely described as a return to the days of the British Empire of the Nineteenth Century.

The Bush Doctrine, laid out formally as The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, explicitly acknowledges that the United States is the most powerful country in the world, and allegedly sets Democracy, Liberty, and Security throughout the world as its goal. To accomplish this end the doctrine authorizes such tactics as pre-emptive strikes against countries suspected of harboring terrorists, unilateral action when no other country will act and, perhaps most ominously, "strength beyond challenge." In short, the United States will henceforth beat uncooperative countries into submission, all the while claiming to support democracy and liberty.

On previous Memorial Days our leaders have remembered fallen soldiers who had fought for freedom for the US and its friends. In the future our leaders will remember soldiers who have fallen in the process of enforcing the new Pax Americana upon the world. Lord, have mercy on us!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Political correctness is no laughing matter

Los Angeles area high school students learned a hard lesson in free speech recently. The drama department was promoting its production of "The Complete History of America (Abridged)" with a poster depicting George Bush with the eyebrows, mustache and stogie of Groucho Marx. As reported in a local paper, the L.A. Daily News, one student didn't get the joke, and thought Bush was being depicted as an Israeli. He complained and, well, the rest is history. Follow the link to see the poster.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Libertarian Party of California Announces The Libertarian Perspective

The LPC is preparing a weekly op-ed service to be sent to California newspapers. A copy of the news release is here.

This seems to be an excellent idea. All state parties having anything more than a modicum of activist members, including Washington State, should be doing the same thing.

Anybody who has any ideas; for topics, identification of good writers, etc., should submit an appropriate comment to this post.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The elections trial of the new century begins next Monday

An interesting perspective, entitled The Monkey Wrench Trial appears in the Seattle Weekly.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Democrats propose national primary schedule

In an effort to turn the tide on presidential elections the Democrats look to revamp the presidential primary schedule. Three proposals are on the table, one of which would take the initial primary rights away from New Hampshire and Iowa.

So long as Congress remains in Republican hands, don't look for much to happen on this idea.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Limiting Libertarians!?!?!?

Today the Seattle P-I recognizes that the Libertarian Party may be a major casualty under the "top two" system. Hopefully, however, the editorial board will eventually wake up to the fact, in Washington, that Libertarians probably did more damage to Gregoire than to Rossi. Time will tell.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Political speech to cost more at the USPS

In an obvious attempt to quash political speech within the US mails, the USPS has proposed to dramatically increase the cost of mail that does not explicitly attempt to sell something or explicitly solicit donations for a non-profit purpose. Sounding the alarm is the American Association of Political Consultants. The proposed USPS regulation can be found here.

Given that email and blogging have become so pervasive this may not matter as much as it might on first appearance. But on the other hand it seems extremely odd to raise the rates to send a "vote for me" letter and not raise the rates for a "send me money" letter.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Parties posture over the primary

The Seattle Times reports the Democrats and Republicans are scheduling party caucuses and conventions across the state to nominate their candidates for this year's election, all in prelude to a court showdown over the voter approved "top two" primary system.

The Libertarian Party delegates the power to nominate to its annual convention, or to an appointed campaigns committee. LP leaders are now considering whether to join in the suit for party autonomy.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Interesting (alarming) article regarding mandatory voting

Swedish economist Patricia Funk has posted this article: Is there an Expressive Function of Law? An Empirical Analysis of Voting Laws with Symbolic Fines on SSRN (Napster for Nerds). The gravamen: "in public good areas such as voting, a law targeting at the civic duty (even if hardly enforced) might have a bigger impact on behavior than actions which affect the costs of provision for the public good."

U.S. Mishandled $96.6 Million in Rebuilding Iraq, Report Finds - New York Times

U.S. Mishandled $96.6 Million in Rebuilding Iraq, Report Finds - New York Times Hmmm. What more need be said that hasn't already been said?

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Great site to "follow the money"

The Center for Responsive Politics has this web site available to anyone who wants to "follow the money" in politics. The available information is rich and variable, but even so, it merely scratches the surface, providing mostly summaries and abstracts, as opposed to source data. Nonetheless, its a great place to start to find out who is giving and who is getting. Happy hunting.

Election Law: Constitutional Attacks on Voter I.D. Requirements

Loyola Law School Professor Rick Hasen reports that the ACLU and the Democratic Party have filed lawsuits challenging recent Indiana legislation requiring photo IDs to vote. The ACLU complaint likens the ID requirement to a poll tax that will disproportionately affect the poor, the elderly and the infirm. This is one to watch.

Monday, May 02, 2005

News of the Wierd: Ex-Senator Joins Kinky Friedman's Campaign

Dean Barkley, mastermind behind Jesse Ventura's upset victory as Minnesota governor, has joined Kinky Friedman's Campaign for governor of Texas. This is one to watch, if only for the novelty value.

Little Brother is watching you, too

For all the hype about Big Brother watching you, see, e.g., Watching You: Systematic Federal Surveillance of Ordinary Americans, the problem of private information gathering, while barely on the radar, is potentially more dangerous. ZabaSearch.com Free People Search, a recently launched web site, offers free personal information, including birth dates and unlisted telephone numbers. Background dossiers are available for a fee.

While at first blush this may be an outrageous invasion of privacy (and it is, really), the fact is this is just a search engine. The information it returns is information already available on the Internet on other web sites. So, while it may be both disturbing and sobering--it is for me at least--the cure is to find the original source sites and get them to remove your private information.