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)

Saturday, January 29, 2005

THANKS A MILLION. My car was broken into at a parking garage in downtown Seattle, sometime during work yesterday. Well, the car burglar didn't take anything. Not that there was much to take. He did pass up cds of Yaz, AC/DC and Audioslave, however. Hmm. In any event, with my car break-in from spring of '03, I now have NO DOORS with functioning locks. I have to leave it all unlocked now. Swell. Thanks, car burglars. You're lucky I didn't see you there--it would've been lights out.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Friday, January 28, 2005

NATIONAL REVIEW CALLS FOR RE-VOTE IN WASHINGTON STATE. Hat tip to Matt Rosenberg at Sound Politics for pointing out an editorial in the forthcoming (Valentine's Day Edition) of the NR. A must read!

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
JUST SOME THOUGHTS ON JUST WAR. Covert Advisor mentions my post from yesterday concerning the application of Hadley Arkes’ take on the doctrine of nonintervention to the current war in Iraq. CA’s post provides plenty of good resources concerning just war theory—to which I would add Kenneth Anderson’s Law of War and Just War Theory Blog.

CA closes with some questions about whether just war theory works as an explanation of the world in which we live and in assessing military action and then presents the following two perspectives:
Ultimately, some might consider this medieval casuistry a doomed attempt to impose order on a shifting, living dune. Yet for others it is nothing less than discerning the moral order inherent in the universe, and living by it, even in the midst of slaughter.

I am a subscriber to the latter viewpoint, as just war theory impresses me. Recently, I had the chance to read Jean Bethke Elshtain’s Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World. It was an enjoyable book that I hope to go through again soon and write a review for Amazon.

I was particularly struck by how Elshtain was very much a realist in her discussion. No, she’s not a proponent of the crass, amoral, realpolitik sort of realism of international relations. Rather, she recognizes the reality of radical Islamism and its fundamental conflict with Western Civilization and the concepts of constitutional government and the separation of church and state. Importantly, Elshtain INSISTS on getting the FACTS right. Radical terrorist thugs who fly planes into buildings because they hate America and commit such acts in the name of their radical religious views must be recognized as ideologically-driven terrorists who have made a conscious decision to do all that they can to destroy us.

This is all blaringly obvious to most people, but as Elshtain points out, all sorts of so-called academics have spilled a great deal of ink about how we need to get to “root causes” and find out what the West could have done to make them act this way. As Elshtain rightly points out, those misguided academics fail to take the terrorists seriously as moral agents and fail to face up to the dangers they pose. If a nation of people is not calling the terrorists for what they are but instead describe them as mere victims, then that nation is getting the facts wrong. If a nation is not taking steps to defend against the threat a first priority, then that nation is not performing one of the most central tasks for which governments are constituted.

One interesting thing I noted in my reading of Elshtain’s book is the fact that she describes a presumption against the use of force in describing just war theory. I am not entirely sure one should invoke the term presumption. In fact, in a lecture given by George Weigel a couple of years ago (which I wrote about as a young law school lad here), Weigel specifically took issue with the view that just war theory involves a presumption against the use of force. I have a copy of Weigel’s article on just war theory in The Catholic Law Review and I give myself the assignment of going over that again, of reviewing Elshtain’s book, and thinking further on the matter. At this point, I am inclined to think that the use of force does require strong justifications, but that it would be too presumptuous in a world full of danger to impose a presumption against the use of violent force to stop injustices.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
WHICH WAY WILL THEY GO? This will be my last post mentioning Teddy Kennedy...until he does something stupid, ridiculous and outrages again. I simply wish to call readers' attention to an editorial from today available at OpinionJournal, the title for which is worth quoting in full: "Harry Reid's Choice: Will the new Minority Leader follow Ted Kennedy off a cliff?" Perhaps BRIDGE would have made for a better metaphor.

It will be interesting to see if Sen. Reid will ultimately take the same course as former Senator Tom Daschle. Perhaps Sen. Reid really things obstructionism and frequent recourse to Teddy's leftwing playbook makes for a winning strategy that will ultimately be good for America.

Oh, and here's a good paragraph mentioning Teddy's awful speech from the other day:
"Iraq is George Bush's Vietnam," he added, elaborating in another speech yesterday that "the war in Iraq has become a war on the American occupation." This, on the eve of an election in which millions of Iraqis will risk their lives to create a new self-governing country... He also called for a precipitous American pullout that coincides with the wishes of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, among others who are assassinating Iraqi democrats.

I am glad to see that the folks at the Journal understand that Teddy's comments HURT the efforts of our soldiers in Iraq and HURTS the Iraqis' best hopes for freedom.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
27. Well. I just had to change my template to reflect the fact that I'm a year older. At least I still have some youth left in me.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

AHA! THE LAND BEFORE MEMOGATE. Yesterday’s OpinionJournal has an article entitled “Memogate Prequel,” discussing an episode involving Democratic staffers reading the memos of Republican staffers on the House International Relations Committee.

This incident is particularly enlightening in view of the ongoing investigation by a federal prosecutor concerning former Senate Judiciary Staffer Manuel Miranda’s discovery of Democratic strategy memos through a computer glitch in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s computers. The memos were extremely embarrassing to the Senate Democrats—and to Ted Kennedy and a few others, in particular—because it showed their collusion with leftwing groups who sought to block the confirmation of certain judicial nominees. Race was a stipulated reason for the rejection of some of the nominees.

Here’s the kicker about that earlier incident, as it concerns the Memogate incident:
After a quiet internal investigation, [Reps. Ben Gilman and Lee Hamilton] concluded that no House rules had been broken, fixed the computer system and told the Democratic staffers to stop snooping.

Yet, the federal prosecutor’s investigation continues.

Note: Memogate is not to be confused with Filegate, nor with Rathergate (which, to add to the confusion, did involve fake memos).

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
ANOTHER TED KENNEDY OUTRAGE. Kathryn Jean Lopez's post at NRO's The Corner alerted me to this short story in Army Times. Teddy continues to construct new dimensions of the word disgrace.

For starters, there is THIS incredibly STUPID quote:
There are costs to staying and costs to leaving. There may well be violence as we disengage militarily from Iraq and Iraq disengages politically from us, but there will be much more violence if we continue our present dangerous and destabilizing course.

And then there's this:
The U.S. military presence has become part of the problem, not part of the solution...

This man is not fit to be a United States Senator. We have brave soldiers in the field who are doing a tremendous job. Brave men and women who are part of an historic and courageous mission that will help to establish a beachhead for peace and democracy in the Arab Middle Eastern Islamic world.

Perhaps I will say more about Teddy's blathering later, but I'll drive over that bridge when I get to it...

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
SHARK ON NRO'S THE CORNER. As Stefan Sharkansky notes over at Sound Politics, he'll be doing some guest blogging over with the folks on National Review Online. I hope the Shark gives those fine folks (with their East Coast Bias) a good run for their money!

Also, Greg Piper, operator of The Smoking Room, is guest-blogging over at The Moderate Voice for the week.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
JUDGE GONZALES: ONE STEP CLOSER TO CONFIRATION. To little or no media fanfare, Judge Alberto Gonzales' nomination as U.S. Attorney General was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a strict party-line vote, 10-8. Powerline has a brief post from yesterday on the matter. I think Hindrocket sums up the sad state of affairs with the Senate Democrats concerning Judge Gonzales nomination:

What this shows, I think, is that the Dems' apparent "crazies" like Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer are, in fact, speaking for their party. I suspect that we'll see more and more instances of the Senate Democrats coalescing around the extreme positions taken by their least respectable members.

Others have pointed out the irony of Sen. Kennedy's embarrassingly laughable attempts to link Judge Gonzales to water torture, given the Senator's own, less-than-savory history concerning water and drowning. Teddy really doesn't have the moral authority to speak about such things.

The next step: full Senate for final confirmation on Judge Gonzales nomination. At this point I don't even know how soon the vote will take place. Condoleeza Rice, I am delighted to say, has just been confirmed by the full Senate and that inclines me to think the vote on Judge Gonzales will be soon. But the news stories have been very sparse--save for all of the angry Old Media/Legacy Media editorials opposing his nomination based on very tortured reasoning...

Speaking of which, after this whole ordeal is over and Judge Gonzales is nominated and becomes and EXCELLENT attorney general, I think everyone is going to be tired of the words "torture," "tortured," and "torturing."

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
ARKES ON FIGHTING TERROR, GIVING FREEDOM A CHANCE. As I continue reading though Amherst Professor and Claremont Institute Fellow Hadley Arkes’ excellent book First Things: An Inquiry into the First Principles and Morals of Justice, I came across a profound section discussing international law and the doctrine of nonintervention.

Arkes discussed the idea of nonintervention in the context of the Vietnam War—as an argument leveled by cultural relativists. Of course, Arkes pointed out, such a doctrine of nonintervention can be no more than a prudential consideration. He states:
When the doctrine of nonintervention is mistaken for a substantive moral principle it can lead even some of the most urbane people to conclusions that turn the canons of moral reasoning inside out. (pg. 269)

If the canons of moral reasoning imply anything, they must at least imply that moral conclusions may not be drawn from any condition, such as physical strength or weakness, which has in itself no moral significance. (pg. 270)

Arkes went on to describe, however, a notion of nonintervention that was tied to the notion of self-determination. This is an altogether difference conception of nonintervention, in that it would permit a nation to interfere with a civil war in a neighboring country in order to ensure that the people of that neighboring nation can exercise their own right of self-government. That makes a little more sense.

As Arkes continued his discussion, I could not help but marking several passages that seemed relevant to the current war in Iraq, and the claims of the critics’ that we are somehow “imposing” democracy on that nation and its people. In my view, we are giving the people of Iraq the chance to govern themselves, and anyone who cannot discern a moral difference between liberating a people so that they can exercise their self-determination and a war of conquest and plunder should not be taken seriously.

Here is key a passages from Arkes that expand upon this subject:

As [J.S.] Mill understood…free government may disappear in certain countries not because most people do not cherish it enough, but because the forces that would overturn it may be better armed and disciplined. At these moments, an outside power may be warranted in intervening to supply a deficit in arms that may otherwise imperil a decent government that is not wanting in popular support. The intervention may create dependencies lasting into the future; it may prove inexpedient in a number of ways. But it could not be regarded in principle as wrong. (pg. 269)

Pay particularly close attention to this final passage, which I find particularly pertinent in light of the war in Iraq:

It is entirely possible that elected governments with the support of their populations may still not be a match, in certain instances, for terrorist groups that are disciplined and unconstrained by tender sentiments. Certain populations may also be demoralized or lose their nerve more easily than others when they are faced with systematic error, and they may be more inclined to buy peace by accepting an accommodation, even with antidemocratic forces. But it should be apparent at the same time that nothing in this catalogue of weakness would affect in any way the moral claim of an elected government to survive that terrorism. And in that event…the cannons of moral reasoning would explain quite easily why a third party would be justified in going to the rescue and supplying the strength that the endangered government cannot summon by itself. Against the necessary force of these moral considerations, the doctrine of nonintervention must be reduced to a formula without moral substance. (pg. 271)

Right now our armed forces are engaged in an important struggle in Iraq, putting a nation of people on the path to constitutional self-government. We cannot let their fate rest in the hands of determined thugs and terrorists. Our brave soldiers are not letting that happen. They are giving Iraqi's a chance at governing themselves and living in freedom. We should continue to be grateful for their sacrifices and for all that they are doing in their historic mission.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

REVIEW OF HUGH HEWITT'S BOOK BLOG. Buy Blog. It’s the new book by law professor, radio talk show host and blogger Hugh Hewitt. Folks who have no idea what blogs are (who presumably will not be reading this review) will be provided with an excellent intro to blogs—what they are, who runs them, why they’re important. Bloggers and devotees of the blogosphere will gain a better grasp of the significance of the media revolution that blogs have ushered in.

Hewitt revisits recent episodes in the young history of blogs—Trent Lott’s stupid comments at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party, ex-NY Times editor in chief Howell Raines’ role in the Jayson Blair scandal/saga, the Swift Boat Vets’ exposure of John Kerry’s bogus “Christmas in Cambodia”, and Rathergate—the fake memos CBS so boldly proclaimed out of political bias. All of these episodes were carried by blogs, as Old Media/Legacy Media/MSM would have let these go, but for the diligence of bloggers.

Hewitt’s succinct history of the blogosphere drives home its significance in creating a media reformation. In the same way the Protestant Reformation took place in light of newly-created printing press technology, today’s New Media is made possible by the easy access to information and publishing provided by blogs on the internet. The result: information is now directly accessible to people faster and in proportions never imagined--and Old Media authorities will have to accept a new, diminished role in delivering news.

This book is the first big book on blogs by a top blogger, and with the recent release of the Whitewash Report over Rathergate, Hewitt’s timing could not be better. (Let the Whitewash Report serve as proof that the blogosphere should never rest on its laurels or expect other outlets to carry water for it.) Blog is now on bookshelves, and Hewitt has been kind enough to note the top-notch blogging of Stefan Sharkansky and others over at Sound Politics in covering Washington State's election mess. Go get it.

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
"NELLIE" !!! PLU's student newspaper, The Mast appears to be on hiatus until February (with the end of the Fall Semester and J-Term), but the last issue from December has a neat little article by Jenni Jensen discussing John Nelson—aka “Nellie”—and a recent documentary that was made about it. Nellie has a wonderful story, and the article is accompanied by a great picture of him with Frosty Westering.

Nellie was certainly one of the most colorful personalities associated with the Lutes’ football team—and at PLU more generally. He has a real fiery personality, a great sense of humor, and maintains an inspiring perspective on things. I once had the opportunity to hear him speak directly about his life’s story. Nellie’s story is profound and also quite touching.

The article has me interested in the documentary, which I haven’t yet seen but am going to purchase. According to the Mast article, Nellie: A Life Worth Living, can be purchased online or at The movie website itself is very cool, featuring a trailer and a positive review by Dr. Nigel M. de S. Cameron of the Center for Bioethics and Culture.

Speaking of Frosty, PLU’s recently-retired football coach, he has published an awesome book called Make the Big Time Where You Are. And, as I noted in a prior post (here), Frosty has a follow-up in the works! Paul Silvi of King 5 still has Frosty on his TV segments, from time to time. It certainly occurred to me--back when I was attending PLU and playing football--that Frosty himself was deserving of a documentary. He ran an unbelievable program, of which Nellie was an important part. It’s wonderful to see Nellie in the spotlight, and the documentary is worth checking out.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

ALEXANDER HAMILTON TO THE RESCUE. Jack Kemp has written an intriguing column today that is available at Town Hall, entitled "A Hamiltonian solution to Social Security's Bankruptcy."

Our former HUD Secretary describes an interesting potential solution to our nation's Social Security problem that is reminiscent of Alexander Hamilton's efforts to get our young republic out of its terrible war debts. Kemp cites a recent report by Lawrence Hunter of the Institute for Policy Innovation and goes on to conclude:

Refinancing the Social Security liability through new-issue federal bonds would not entail new debt; in fact, it would make it possible to pay off debt and leave Social Security financially sound in perpetuity. To paraphrase Hamilton, debt incurred to refinance Social Security would be to us a "national blessing" as we create a truly democratic, capitalistic shareholder society.

Alexander Hamilton is my favorite founding father, and it is a treat to read this column, as I am about to begin re-reading Forrest McDonald's EXCELLENT intellectual biography of Hamilton.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, January 24, 2005

LOCAL HERO ON THE APPRENTICE! Alex Thomason, a candidate on NBC’s The Apprentice—and a deputy assistant prosecutor in King County—is spotlighted in “The Insider” column in today’s Seattle P-I.

Alex was a good friend and classmate at Seattle University School of Law. When I took up the task of revitalizing the school’s Federalist Society chapter, Alex was right there and proved to be a real leader. I was instantly stuck by his sharp, intellectual acumen. He is also unflappable and the sort who will stand up where few others dare. There are few people these days who possess the practical skills to get things done and only a small number of folks who have any knowledgeable or philosophical depth to their thinking. Alex, however, is one of those extraordinary individuals who possess both. The man has it together and it makes perfect sense that he would be selected as a candidate for The Apprentice.

Be sure to check out Alex’s website, which is plugged in the P-I article. It’s a dynamite web site—excellently designed. The following quote from Alex may be my favorite part of the site:

Winning doesn't necessary mean finishing first place in this interview. I believe that how you wage war is just as important as whether you win the war. I was made to take tough risks. After all, as my great and loyal friend Billy Cooper said to me before he left for Iraq (US Army, 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad), "Arod, you got one shot at and love—fortune favors the bold. Be bold."

The Apprentice airs on Thursday nights at 8:30pm. (Go here for more details.) Be sure to root Alex on!!!

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

Cooper Blog Cartoon #3

Sunday, January 23, 2005

INTERNATIONAL MARXISTS HATE THE PREZ: A SIGN THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT MAN IN CHARGE. Mustafa Akyol has penned an interesting op-ed in the Washington Times about Bush haters in his native country of Turkey. Guess what? Marxists and radical atheists in Turkey don’t like President Bush! In fact, they hate his guts. Sound familiar?

These ideologues are so blinded by their own conspiracy theories and wacko ideas that they miss the fact that this President is committed to spreading freedom and democracy across the world. He has made this clear in his recent address. Empire and theocracy are BOTH incompatible with a democratically-elected republican form of government. But we all know looney-bin thinking prevents such notions from registering in one's mind.

It would probably be a waste of time to try and persuade the venom-spewing Marxists and far, FAR lefties about the errors of their thinking. But their ideas need to be exposed for their falsehoods and countered with the truth. Akyol takes a good stab in his op-ed.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING ROOM FOR CREAM WITH COFFEE. I write this post at the Green Lake Starbuck’s, enjoying a tall decaf. Granted, I tend to prefer Seattle’s Best, if I have to go with the big name stuff, but sometimes you have to take what life gives you. In any event, I always make a point of always saying NO to the baristas when they ask me if they should leave room in my coffee for cream and sugar. Just why should someone answer otherwise? All that means is that they give you LESS coffee for your money. Now, it is true that I tend to drink my coffee BLACK, but even on those occasions when I want to put something in it, I simply take a few sips of my filled-to-the-rim cup of coffee AND THEN put in coffee and cream. Perhaps this post will teach someone a valuable lesson. They usually don’t teach you these kinds of things when you’re in school.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
ROB THE VOTE! There are a batch of good posts today at Sound Politics concerning ballots being cast by persons ineligible to vote by virtue of their being convicted felons (whose rights have not been restored). See the posts by Andy McDonald, Jim Miller and Stefan Sharkansky (here and here).

I keep telling you, these Sound Politics folks are all over this! The blog media reformation is clearly evident in their excellent work.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)