Washington Libertarian Review

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

Friday, July 15, 2005

Public Referendum Powers Dead - 7/14/05 - R.I.P.

In yet another setback for the citizens of Washington the state supreme court has ruled that the state legislature may use the emergency clause whenever it wants to avoid a public referendum on the legislation. At issue was a challenge to tax increases with less than a 2/3 majority vote. The 2/3 majority provision for increased taxes was at the heart of a voter initiative passed several years ago.

But a majority of the legislature declared an emergency existed, and the 2/3 majority requirement had to go. The irony--What is the nature of an emergency when less than 2/3 of those voting believe an emergency sufficient to require the tax increases exists?--apparently received no attention from the court, which relied on another case debacle, a challenge to the legislation that authorized construction of "Large Insurance Company" Field, in which the court adopted a fully deferential view of legislative determinations of emergency.

Stated alternatively, the court has adopted the position that if the legislature says an emergency exists then one exists, and the referendum powers do not exist. Period. End of discussion.

Justice Charles Johnson authored the majority opinion. He has twice sought, and received, endorsements from the Libertarian Party in past elections. In my view, he should not receive another, ever. After all, its an emergency.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Blind justice gets a new guide elephant

This drawing accompanied Frank Rich's New York Times 7/12 article We're Not in Watergate Anymore in which he recounts the similarities between the Watergate coverup and the coverup of the retaliatory "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Monday, July 11, 2005

The last laugh

There's an old saying: What goes around comes around.

Twenty years ago urban planners worried about sprawl and gridlock. For some reason local regulation seemed inadequate. So they appealed to the state for help. The result was the Growth Management Act.

Property owners and developers screamed themselves hoarse, all to no avail. After all, our quality of life was at stake.

Now, it appears the property owners and developers have had the last laugh. Using the same powers that the urban planners used to get statewide regulation of land use, the developers have figured a way to make a buck anyway, manufactured homes in residential neighborhoods, regardless what local regulations may say.

Here is another old saying: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Fighting morbid obesity of the mind

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has this interesting op-ed about Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to jail rather than reveal a source.

The writer, a retired journalist himself, remembers the days of Watergate, when the media was much fiercer about getting the "real news." He quotes historian Richard Rider: "Real news is the news you and I need to keep our freedom."

But, sad to say, I wonder how much difference it makes anymore.

We have known for months that the War in Iraq was shamelessly based on pretense and the most dangerous (and wrong headed) foreign policy the United States has had since the days of the Cuban missle crisis. And so what happens? Subways get bombed and civilians get beheaded. And America goes on about its business, marketing video games containing explicit sex scenes and buying designer clothes made in China.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, some have taken the business of what is newsworthy into their own hands. Shortly after the infamous Downing Street memo was published in the London Sunday Times, a group of IT wonks created The Downing Street Memo :: What is it?, and began contacting the news media.

Their effect has even drawn the notice and dismay of the Bush supportering Wall Street Journal: "'It really is just six people, and I don't even know the name[s] of two of them,' spokesman Bob Fesmire said. 'People find it hard to believe it when I tell them that for a $20 Web-hosting fee, you too can get something like this going.'"

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Poor Exit Strategy from Iraq

The national Libertarian Party recently posted a plan for phased withdrawal from Iraq on its web site, www.lp.org.

Their plan generally calls for a reduction in force over a year, coupled with military and financial assistance to help the Iraqi government build its own policing capabilities.

Most Americans now agree that the War in Iraq was a mistake. All thoughtful Americans agree that we need to find a way to end the fighting. But, the Libertarian plan is just a bad plan.

First, any gradual withdrawal is a bad idea conceptually because it means we have a slowly dwindling force left behind by design.

There is considerable question right now about whether a force of almost 150,000 is sufficient to adequately defend Americans and American installations against the insurgents. As our military muscle is slowly diminished in a phased withdrawal, those forcibly left behind (pursuant to the plan) are deliberately exposed to greater and greater danger.

It's just wrong to leave a force behind that's incapable of adequately defending itself. If the Libertarian’s plan were adopted, how would you like to be assigned to the last brigade scheduled for departure in late 2006?

No matter how fast we get out, someone will be on the last helicopter. Those particular soldiers will be most exposed. Why make them (essentially) sit at the airport for months and months?

Also, the announcement of a full and complete withdrawal as fast as is possible might be met by a kind of unannounced “grace” period, allowing a clean get-away. But, a plan to leave behind a dwindling force for long periods of time surely will be seen as a lengthy opportunity to fire away at more and more poorly equipped Americans.

So, a “gradual,” or incremental, withdrawal is just a bad military idea. Once it’s time to leave, we should do so as rapidly as it’s possible to move, getting everyone out together.

Second, the plan’s reason for staying another year is to provide a military defense of the current Iraqi government.

My objection is to the very strategy of our providing assistance to the current government. There are people in Iraq who oppose this government.

Yes, it was elected. But, how do we know anything really about the fairness of the election? (It was fair because President Bush says so?) The minority Sunni Muslims mostly boycotted it and are not represented – at the very least, they are under-represented.

So, what we have is a current government run by the majority Shiite clerics who have a long-standing beef with minority Sunni's and a reason to abuse and oppress the Sunnis, yet we have decided to train, arm and protect the Shiites. Why? It’s like deciding to assure the Nazis have enough firepower to defeat any Jewish opposition.

We gave arms, money and protection to the Shah of Iran. We gave arms, money and assistance to Osama bin Laden when he led the Mujahadeen against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. We gave arms, money and assistance to Saddam Hussain when he made war on the Iranians who'd overthrown the Shah. At the time, we thought we were arming and assisting “friends,” but each time things didn’t exactly pan out as planned. Isn't it time we quit arming, training and equipping armies in the Middle-East?

The LP’s plan is designed to assure that the current Iraqi regime gets its hands on an effective military force. Why, why, why should we do that again, thus earning the enmity of whoever is abused by one more military power we’ve created?

The existence of a plan – any plan – is encouraging, but a thoughtful argument for adopting the Libertarian plan must address these essential objections.