SharksWithLasers -- Seth Cooper

A CUTTING-EDGE BLOG FOR THE WORLD OF THE 21st CENTURY, Currently operated by Seth L. Cooper, a 27 year-old attorney in Seattle (sethlcooper at comcast dot net)

Friday, August 27, 2004

ANOTHER GREGOIRE GAFFE. An excellent post today by Stefan Sharkansky over at Sound Politics, discussing another disaster for Christine Greoire's Gubernatorial campaign. Apparently, our troubled Attorney General was the President of a racist college sorority. WOW!

I mentioned Sound Politics in a prior post, and once again I encourage folks to check it out. It will be a lot of fun following it as the Fall elections draw closer.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
BUSH COUNTRY!

Below is the review of a cool book, which I just submitted to Amazon. (As of this posting they still had not put up my review of Bernstein's book...argh!)

Bush Country: How Dubya Became a Great President While Driving Liberals Insane
St. Martin's Press (2004)
By John Podhoretz

A Nice Read for this Election Year ! (4 stars)

George W. Bush is a man for his time, and will go down in all-time as a great President—regardless of the outcome of the 2004 election. John Podhoretz’s account of Bush the Younger’s presidency provides a compelling read for this election season. I recommend it.

For one thing, the organization of the book is great. Eight solid chapters are each accompanied by sub-chapters that address the most crazy and foolish left-wing ideas about our President, with a summary chapter closing it up. Podhoretz does a splendid job in dismantling the ridiculous (and conflicting) claims that our energetic executive is a mere moron, puppet, fanatic, etc., etc., etc. Over the last year I’ve also seen plenty of left-wingers in downtown Seattle waving signs comparing our President to Hitler. Not only is there a new generation of Lyndon LaRouche supporters to supplant the old guys with long beards outside post offices (the new guys go to the post offices, too), but the LaRouche message is all but identical to the many of our most whacked-out college professors and those Dean-dongs-turned-Kerry-supporters.

This reviewer was once an ardent Democrat who voted for Democrats. I was fortunate to make the change in my early 20s and am now spending my mid-20s doing what I can to re-elect the man who will do the most for our nations’ security. I am tired of the “blame America first” stuff and our country demands a strong leader who will protect us from terrorism. As Podhoretz shows, we have such a leader in George W. Bush.

Particularly important is Podhoretz’s overview of President Bush’s strategy against terrorism. He highlights our President’s resolve to bring the battle to the terrorists—right to where they are. To make our last line of defense a more rigorous system of port scanning is not only logistically and economically impossible, but leaves us vulnerable and gives the terrorists valuable time to make their advances. Podhoretz discusses some of the major foreign policy speeches where our Commander-in-Chief lays out the case for aggressive action against terrorism and asserts the importance of American self-determination.

Very enjoyable is Podhoretz’s account of the almost lighting-quick rise of George W. Bush, right up to the highest office of the land. His climb to the top was certainly remarkable. Podhoretz asserts that the man who ran for the White House in 2000 became a different kind of leader and rose to the challenges that the new, post 9/11 world presents.

Podhoretz also gives credit to President Bush for the strong leader and stellar politician that he is. One of the reasons the “loony left” dislikes the President is because he has been so effective at achieving results. While the President’s foreign policy achievements are the most remarkable, he has also successfully landed a series of domestic policy victories—including some crucial tax cuts.

Another reason many on the left despise our President is because of his faith. Podhoretz does an excellent job in discussing this issue, demonstrating that while the President’s faith is a source of strength, the President has always been guided in his policy decisions by the oath he swore to the Constitution and the best-interests of our nation.

Podhoretz is a former speech-writer and a reporter, so the writing is solid and the book has great flow. I bought this book because Hugh Hewitt recommended it in his latest work, and so I now recommend “Bush Country” to others.

*******

FURTHER THOUGHTS: I think every citizen should read a book or two about the candidates for President. This one was a pleasure to read, and despite the fact that ther are already 100+ reviews of this book already posted, I just felt I had to add my own.

Also, Hugh Hewitt recommends Bush Country in his latest book, If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It.

(Green Lake--Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I MET RUDOLPH GULIANI!!! My exciting morning was followed-up with an exciting lunch at the Seattle Four Seasons, where former New York Mayor Rudolph Guliani spoke at a fundraiser for George Nethercutt's Senatorial campaign.

This was a thrill! This Senatorial race is terribly important, as Washingtonians have the chance to replace one of America's worst Senators (Patty Murray), with a strong leader who will play a pivotal part in the prosecution of the war on terror--Congressman George Nethercutt.

Local talk show host John Carlson--who referred to himself, in the spirit of Athens, as the Silver Medal winner in the 2000 Washington Gubernatorial race--was the emcee for the event. Nethercutt gave a great stump speech. I had the privilege of shaking his hand before the event and I'm now very enthusiastic about his campaign.

As if all this weren't enough, Washington State's great hope--Dino Ross--was also in attendance. He is clearly the most solid candidate for governor of Washington State in my lifetime. He will truly be an excellent governor and help to turn this state around.

Finally, Mayor Guliani took to the podium, giving a rousing speech about the war on terror, fiscal responsibility in government, and political campaigns that defy the odds. Remember, Mayor Guliani became a two-term Republican mayor in a city where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 5-1 or 6-1.

Mayor Guliani stressed that the best defense is a good offense, and that our national security requires that we take things directly to terrorists overseas. He reiterated the importance of strong leadership, praising President Bush for the way in which he has conducted this war, and highlighting the convictions of Congressman Nethercutt.

Prior to the lunch, I had the distinct honor of shaking the hand of Mayor Guiliani--a man who rose to the challenges of his time, just like President Bush, and who will be seen as model of strong American leadership for ages to come. (Could he possibly be the Republican nominee for the White House in 2008?)

(Green Lake--Seattle, WA)
JUSTICE RICHARD SANDERS RE-ELECTION BREAKFAST! Despite the insanely early hour at which I was required out of the bed, I managed to make it from Green Lake over to the Bellevue Double Tree for a fundraising breakfast for Justice Richard B. Sanders. The re-election site can be found HERE.

As is typical, I ate breakfast before I left home for the breakfast, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was a real breakfast at the breakfast. I generously indulged myself on the bacon and eggs, but was proud of myself from holding off on the potatoes.

Plenty of friends were in attendance, and the program began with a superb invocation by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, paying tribute to the good Justice. Soon after, Justice Sanders himself took to the podium, providing the audience with a solid stump speech.

Clearly, liberty has no greater voice in Washington State than in Justice Sanders. Both the Washington State Republican and Libertarian parties have endorsed him, as well as several Republican legislators and even some Democrats. We desparately need to keep this intriguing man and insightful jurist on our State Supreme Court, and he definitely gets my vote.

On the way out the door, just prior to shaking Justice Sander's hand, I had the honor of running into Stefan Sharkansky, of the most excellent Sharkblog. His blog is one I refer to frequently, and not to be missed. Indeed, once I learned of his blog, I almost considered changing the name of my own, simply to avoid any attempt to unfairly ride his coattails or attempt an imitation. Surely, my much-neglected blog has only a miniscule presence in the blogosphere, so I'll keep the name for the time being.

In any event, Stefan informed me that he is now contributing to Sound Politics, a group blog focusing on regional politics. I look forward to following this new blog.

(Green Lake--Seattle, WA)
REVIEW OF BERNSTEIN'S YOU CAN'T SAY THAT! The following as a book review I wrote for a publication that never came to print. Thus, I'm posting it here and will put it up on Amazon shortly.

You Can’t Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws
Cato Institute (2003)
By David E. Bernstein

A Fine Analysis of Contemporary First Amendment Issues (5 Stars)

Free speech really isn’t as free as some people make it out to be. In fact, important and interesting ideas are stifled and suppressed too much of the time these days. But this shouldn’t be surprising when one realizes that a large number of people left (and even some on the right) believe that free speech only applies to people they happen to agree with. This problem is particularly acute in public education and supposed “higher” places of learning, where academic freedom reigns supreme and is available to all—just as long as you don’t speak and think the wrong way.

In You Can’t Say That! The Growing Threat to Civil Liberties from Antidiscrimination Laws, David E. Bernstein focuses upon the myriad of ways in which antidiscrimination laws that were once enacted for the benevolent purpose of remedying past injustices of racial discrimination have since come to be used by government agencies, campus PC crowds, and radical egalitarian interest groups to suppress the fundamental, constitutional rights of people to speak, assemble, associate and partake of their livelihoods.

Bernstein, a respected law professor at George Mason University School of Law and member of the popular Volokh Conspiracy blog (http://www.volokh.com/), draws together cases ranging from claims of “hostile environment” in the workplace to those involving campus speech codes, providing a powerful expose of the threats to free speech that are posed by many antidiscrimination laws today.

Many people fail to recognize that our federal Constitution is a charter delineating limiting the actions of the federal (and in some cases state) government. With rare exception—such as the 13th Amendment’s prohibition on slavery—does the Constitution deal directly with the actions of citizens. And herein lies the problem: whereas civil rights supporters had previously fought to end government unjust racial discrimination by government, newly emerging groups clamoring for special interest rights began to demand discrimination by society. An absolutist streak runs heavily through many interest groups today, who seek to completely eliminate all forms of invidious discrimination. But even if the elimination of all discrimination may be a noble goal, is it really possible for government to do that without causing more problems? Says Bernstein, “Although much private speech is wrongheaded or even dangerous, it is even more dangerous to put the government in charge of policing it.”

To make matters worse, an amorphous and often overly expansive notion of “discrimination” is often the basis of far-fetched antidiscrimination claims. As Bernstein writes, “The concept of antidiscrimination is almost infinitely malleable. Almost any economic behavior, and much other behavior, can be defined as discrimination.” Indeed, during the Clinton Administration the Department of Housing and Urban Development—cited by Bernstein as one of the leading violators of free speech rights—went so far as to try to regulate real estate advertising to prevent what it saw as “discriminatory advertising.” In a number of instances, HUD argued that the people pictured or drawn in newspaper ads for housing had to accurately reflect the racial diversity of the population it served or the real estate company seeking to advertise would be in violation. Keep in mind that these rules operated regardless of the intent of the defendants, regardless of the actual housing practices the engaged in. It was merely enough that someone might think the company placing the ad was sending an unwelcoming message.

But it doesn’t even stop there: the shadow cast upon people and employers by the mere threat of lawsuits and the accompanying inconveniences and financial costs is enough to make many people buckle into political correctness. Even a flimsy cased built upon a flimsy standard can result in serious damage to defendants and place a chilling effect on their speech rights.

Bernstein does an excellent job of discussing the importance of free association as protected by the First Amendment’s Speech Clause. Association is an essential component of speech that is often overlooked by many. Human beings often discuss, form and deliver their opinions as private groups. The criterion by which a group chooses its membership has a direct impact on the speech that the group engages in. But associations are under attack by antidiscrimination claims. The attacks waged against the Boy Scouts by homosexual activist groups is a case in point. The Boy Scouts—a private organization—have become a target because of their rules prohibiting homosexual masters. Homosexual groups have made a conceited effort to have the government force them to change their rules. But if the courts have the powers to do just that, why don’t they have the power to force homosexual groups to include members who disagree with their message? The point here isn’t that one must agree with the position of the Boy Scouts, but merely that one must recognize that free association requires that people be able to choose the message of their group (whatever it may be) and choose members upon their willingness to adhere to that message. If courts have the power to tell us who we associate with, then free association does not exist.

Fortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court case of Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000) not only reaffirmed the important associational principle that “a speaker has the autonomous right to choose the content of his own message,” but also stressed that associations “do not have to associate for the ‘purpose’ of disseminating a certain message” to receive First Amendment protection. But be warned: the decision was 5-4, and the assault on the Boy Scouts and other private organizations continues in the lower courts.

Too many people forget that one can completely disagree and even despise the message that another person presents while still affirming that person’s right to give the message. A read of Bernstein’s fine book definitely drives that important point home.

*******

FURTHER THOUGHTS: I am not 100% certain, at this point in my studies, that the libertarian position that Bernstein takes on the First Amendment is the one that most comports with its original understanding. Nonetheless, it one that I have great sympathies for and lean toward. Regardless, his application of his understanding is logical and consistent.

By the way, I know that publishers often choose the titles of books, rather than the authors...but the title of this book is so cool!

(Green Lake--Seattle, WA)