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, March 11, 2005

SCRIPPS HOWARD CARRYING WATER FOR EMBRYONIC STEM CELL LOBBY? At Secondhand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith discusses two recent article by biotech popularizer Michael Fumento. Yesterday, Smith linked (here) to a commentary by Fumento about recent tests involving ADULT stem cell treatments that have show real promise for the treatment of juvenile diabetes—and how the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International has taken zero interest in this promising research.

That is extremely interesting (and sad) in and of itself. But today Smith posts about Scripps Howard’s refusal to publish Fumento’s follow-up commentary on the matter. Says Smith:

According to Fumento, his syndicate, Scripps Howard refused to publish the article, based on it allegedly being a "diatribe." What? Fumento's tone is utterly reasonable. The facts about which he opines are indisputable. Indeed, SCIENCE DID publish the study demonstrating that adult spleen stem cells completely cured mice with late stage juv. diabetes. Despite this amazing success, the JDRF DID refuse to fund human trials. Finally, the JDRF DID fund Proposition 71, which created a right to therapeutic cloning, to the tune of about $2 million…

Did Scripps Howard take a lot of heat from the publication of Fumento’s initial commentary piece, causing them to pull the plug on publication of the second? I don’t know. But when facts become inconvenient or irritating, a good syndicate would NOT simply dismiss them them as merely being part of someone’s “diatribe.”

Adult stem cell research continues to show great promise. But the some proponents of embryonic stem cell research appear intent on ignoring the potential benefits from adult stem cell research, and preventing people from hearing the truth about possible medical breakthroughs through adult stem cell research. This is a sad state of affairs.

Coincidentally, my latest order from Amazon arrived this morning, complete with a copy of Fumento’s recent book Bioevolution. I look forward to the read…

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

MIGHTY DUCKS. In today's Best of the Web, Wall Street Journal's James Taranto refers to an entry from a year ago about "the strange case of the homosexual necrophiliac duck." The Dutch journal's abstract says the following:

On 5 June 1995 an adult male mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) collided with the glass façade of the Natuurmuseum Rotterdam and died. An other drake mallard raped the corpse almost continuously for 75 minutes. Then the author disturbed the scene and secured the dead duck. Dissection showed that the rape-victim indeed was of the male sex. It is concluded that the mallards were engaged in an "Attempted Rape Flight" that resulted in the first described case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.

Nature is beautiful.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
RIGHTS COMMISSION RESOURCE. Hat tip to Stuart Buck for referring to an archive containing reports of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission--which is now (fortunately) under new leadership.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

HEARINGS ON ROIDS IN BASEBALL?! Congress already has its plate full helping to run the war against terrorism and saving social security from a prospective trainwreck. So why is a House Reform Committee conducting hearings on the use of steriods by Major League Baseball players? I commented on roids in baseball--specifically, concerning Jose Canseco and Brett Boone--in a previous post (here).

David Limbaugh comments on this today--and I totally agree with him:
Where is our awareness of constitutional limitations? If Congress actually has time to pursue this then it should adjourn.

Keep out, Congress. Reps. Tom Davis and Henry Waxman: what are you doing? You have enough trouble fixing homeland security--why take on the national pastime?

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
SPECTER OF BLOGGER POLITICAL SPEECH RESTRICTIONS: A SHORT ROUND-UP. Prof. Rick Hasen of Election Law Blog offers an insightful discussion (here) about the possibility of the FEC regulating the political speech of bloggers, following the much-discussed comments of FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith. (Hat tip to Volokh Conspiracy.)

Says Hasen:

Appropriate regulation should meet two fundamental criteria: (1) grassroots activities should be regulated little, if at all; and (2) large-scale campaign activity—like advertising—that already faces regulation when done outside of the Internet should be regulated equally when the activity takes place through the Internet.

He goes on to predict:
…the FEC will propose only modest regulation, mostly to insure that, as under current law, campaigns and committees fully disclose amounts spent on political advertising to appear on websites.


The average, uncompensated blogger therefore appears to have very little to worry about from FEC regulation, fearing neither disclosure requirements nor contribution limits for political activity. The same appears to go for private individuals who send e-mails to friends, or even to a listserv.

Hasen goes on to discussion various rules concerning disclosure, under current campaign finance laws, and the scope of the media exemption:

The FEC’s rulemaking should extend the media exemption to bona fide newscasts, articles, editorials, and commentaries appearing in online journals or political blogs. New rules should preclude a complaint that an online journal or blogger is making an in-kind contribution to a candidate by promoting (or attacking) a candidate for federal office through a blog posting, online journal article or commentary, or link, even if the journal or blogger has communicated with a candidate or committee.

He then states the following:

Online corporate-owned journals like, however, do not appear to fall within the literal ambit of this "media exemption," nor do any blogs that are owned by corporations, because the exemption on its face applies only to broadcasts, newspapers, and periodicals. As a matter of policy, bona fide on-line journals and political bloggers such as Hugh Hewitt, Andrew Sullivan, or Joshua Marshall, should be treated the same as the New York Times and David Brooks.

In response, Prof. Eugene Volokh chimes in with the following:

It would be good to clarify FECA to make clear that Weblogs and online magazines are exempted. But I think that, properly -- even literally -- interpreted, "other periodical publication" already includes blogs (except perhaps ones that publish intermittently and very rarely).

The entire campaign-finance speech restrictions strike me as blatantly unconstitutional. I think that POLITICAL speech is at the very heart of the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom of speech. Judge Kenneth Starr is all over this one in his book First Among Equals. Nonetheless, given the contingent reality that McCain-Feingold remains largely in-tact and on the books, Hasen makes some good observations worth considering. Further, I think Volokh is spot-on. Blogs are periodicals, as far as I’m concerned, and already covered. Still, I would prefer to see protection explicitly extended to new media.

Finally, Prof. Thomas Smith of The Right Coast makes a couple quick comments about what should happen if the FEC really did try to take on bloggers and stifle their political speech rights:

I think/hope the fears are exaggerated. But I do think political bloggers, left and right, should just prepare themselves psychologically for the possibility of having to take a concrete stand for free speech. Or maybe just prepare to prepare themselves. Free speech is one of those important things. If it does come to that, sticking together will be the important thing. The swarm. United. Will never be defeated.

I don't think the FEC will try to touch the blogopshere, but I am entirely with Smith on this one. Any such attempt by the FEC would result in a STRONG backlash. As much as politicians wedded to the days of Legacy Media's information monopoly might complain, the blogosphere is here to stay.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

PLAYGIRL's REPUBLICAN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF. This story from Drudge appeared yesterday. It made me laugh. Michele Zipp has a couple choice quotes. (Hat tip to James Taranto of Opinion Journal's "Best of the Web.")

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, March 07, 2005

SIMMONS V. ROPER SUCKS, PART II. Today's Wall Street Journal has an op-ed by Prof. Robert F. Nagel on the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision, entitled "Supreme Chaos." Nagel is an outstanding constitutional law scholar, and the author of The Implosion of American Federalism--a wonderful book of penetrating, scholarly insight. I highly recommend his work.

In the op-ed, Nagel begins by discussing some of the general features of Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion for the majority. However, Nagel goes on to describe how the Roper decision is something of a departure from recent decisions wherein the majority criticizes the other branches of government and the public at large for daring to disagree with their point of view on contentious issues. In particular, Justice Kennedy's opinion did not even discuss a Supreme Court of Missouri decision that was at odds with an earlier US Supreme Court ruling. As Nagel goes on to state:

One possible explanation for the majority's unconcern is that it does not see defiance by a court as being anarchic to the same degree as defiance by Congress or state legislatures. After all, even the sorts of unmoored legal judgments to which Justice Scalia refers are finally subject to review by the Supreme Court. This explanation assumes that the justices hold not only an optimistic view of the inclinations of lower court judges, but also a rather heroic view of their own capacities. That is, it assumes the justices are convinced that they have the intellectual tools to control any rare judicial defiance that might occur.

Nagel proceeds to discuss the real chaos-inspiring aspect of decisions like Roper. The justices often decide cases using broad, flowery language--while confining the actual holding of their case very narrowly. But lower courts seize upon that expansive language and the underlying logic of the more broad pronouncements of the Court. Thus do the court's decisions take on sweeping lives of their own--probably further reaching than the intent of the justices of the Court. Says Nagel:

What some members of the Court tend not to appreciate is that they are not in control of their material. The content of their opinions, once unleashed on the world, does not belong to them alone. Not only do other judges have a voice in the ultimate significance of this content, but even the justice who authors an opinion must later decide about its significance in a world altered by that opinion...

I care about the fact that 17-year-olds, like the one in Roper, will no longer have the opportunity to receive a punishment commensurate with the nature of the crime committed. But I'm also concerned about the extent to which lower courts will use Justice Kennedy's references to international law and evolving consensuses about standards of morality to decide future cases. Its all-too-easy to arrive at a decision you really want when your jurisprudential foundation is firmly planted in mid-air. Like the late Judge Learned Hand, I am increasingly of the view that judges should not be given a blank check with the constitution. It runs contrary to the separation of powers and is also harmful to the integrity and prestige of the judicial branch itself. Not to mention the rule of law.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

HMMM... I had a dream last night that I was playing in a baseball game against the New York Yankees--and really takin' it to 'em! I was the opposing team's pitcher and delivered a key double in the only at-bat that I can remember--after which I was replaced by a pinch-runner (unsurprisingly).

Then I woke up and remembered that I don't play baseball, but work for a think-tank. Nuts!

At least spring training is underway, with a whole baseball season still ahead of us!

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)