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)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

CONGRESSIONAL ROID RAGE. Throughout the day I'll be watching today's House Government Reform Committee's hearings on steroid use in Major League Baseball. I still think that Congress' meddling in this matter is wasteful and embarrassing. It strikes me as attention-grabbing and ovverreach, if not overkill.

Law student Sonya Jones and John Lott have a worthwile read on this matter over at NRO. As they note in their concluding paragraph:

With Congress grossly exaggerating the “public health crisis” from suicides to justify their involvement, it is hard to believe that their motives are based on little more than grabbing attention. Congress has already intervened too much with threats and ought to leave baseball alone and let them work out their own problems. Baseball has already made changes, but those changes have not been given any time to see if they work. If this is a continuing problem, the fans will speak loudly and clearly, letting a private company know exactly what the customer wants.

Well said.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

GIVE NO CREDIT TO CRITICS OF BANKRUPTCY REFORM. In "Credity Worthy," Prof. Todd Zywicki discusses the politics surrounding the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, which recently passed the Senate. I blogged about this legislation yesterday.

Countering the false claims of the bill's opponents, Zywicki points to the broad base of support that the bill has received and likewise discusses where the opposition is coming from:

Support for the legislation is broad-based, including almost all Republicans and moderate Democrats. What is narrow is the opposition, which has come largely from two quarters. First, there are economic illiterates who believe that losses caused by bankruptcy fraud and abuse just come out of "banks' profits" and are not passed along to other consumers in the form of higher costs for goods and services. Second, the most well-organized opposition has come from bankruptcy lawyers and those congressmen most beholden to lawyers. Straddling both categories are the most hard-left members of the Democratic party.

Zwicki briefly elaborates this point at Volokh Conspiracy:

To clarify one point in the column--note that every Republican and all of the moderate/conservative Democrats in the Senate supported the legislation (Nelson, Bayh, Biden, etc.). The only opposition was from the most liberal Boxer/Kennedy/Feingold/Kerry wing of the Democratic party...

Sen. Patty Murray is clearly part of THAT wing of the Democratic Party. Sadly, so is Sen. Maria Cantwell--both of whom I intend to discuss in relation to this bill in a future post.

Back to Zywicki. After discussing the lawyer lobby on this issue and the dynamics of special interests in bankruptcy reform, he gets to the heart of the reform:

...Republicans and New Democrats are rebalancing the system by targeting the worst forms of fraud and abuse in the system, while leaving honest bankruptcy filers unaffected. The bill rewards old-fashioned values of thrift and personal responsibility and ends the shameful subsidization of upper-class profligacy by those who are forced to pick up the bill...

Additional responses to the countless left-of-center critics can be found at Just One Minute (hat tip, Zywicki at Volokh Conspiracy), and some good discussion of this bill can also be found at Stromata Blog (hat tip, Ramesh Ponnuru at The Corner).

Bankruptcy reform may not be something to rank high on the list of things people worry about each day, but the left has been particiarly fierce on this issue. A decent respect for clarity and the facts demands that the real story be told and the merits of this important bill be highlighted.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GET THIS MICHAEL JACKSON TRIAL OVER WITH! Almost every time I log into my Comcast e-mail account, I'm faced with a new picture of Michael Jackson in court, for his child molestation trial. Just seeing that man's image once is too much. The fact that the folks who run Comcast's little news pages can't seem to find anything else better to cover speaks to their poor sense of news judgment. In any event, I'm tired of hearing about Michael Jackson's antics I'm tired of seeing his mug on TV all the time. Prosecutors, please make it stop!

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

VINDICATING BANKRUPTCY REFORM. Today at NRO, Volokh Conspirator and George Mason Law School Prof. Todd Zywicki has a must-read piece entitled "Bankrupt Criticisms," discussing the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. The bill recently passed the Senate. A House vote is expected soon, with President Bush's signature to follow. Following the recent passage and signing of the Class Action Fairness Act, this would be the second important legislative achievement of the Bush Administration in the second term.

Zywicki has been voice crying in the wilderness on this subject, as leftwing blog after leftwing blog describe the bankruptcy bill as if it would somehow usher in a dark era of feudalism in America. In his recent Volokh Conspiracy posts (available on one page, here) and now in his NRO article, Zwicki sets the record straight: few persons filing for bankruptcy are impacted by this bill, those who cannot afford to discharge any of their debt will not be affected by the legislation, and the reforms carefully target abusers of the system.

The much-discussed means-test provision of the bill is entirely reasonable and sensible. Those persons making above the medain level of income in their region, after taking into account their many expenses, are presumed to be able to discharge some of their debt under Chapter 13. And even then, such persons may rebut the presumption.

Importantly, Zwicki identifies the persons who are most harmed by bankruptcy fraud and abuse:

...Those victims include the unsuspecting divorcee who is sandbagged by the bankruptcy system when she learns that her property settlement has been discharged. They include small businesses that are forced to raise prices, curtail services, or lay off workers to compensate for losses resulting from bankruptcy filings. They include hospitals that are unable to buy new equipment or hire another nurse because of unpaid bills discharged in bankruptcy. They include young and low-income workers who are unable to buy a car because, thanks to our out-of-control bankruptcy system, they can’t get a loan.


They include every American who is forced to pay more for credit, goods, and services, because others file bankruptcy and walk away from debts they could pay but choose not to...

Another good resource on this topic is the American Bankruptcy Institute's page on the bill, which can be found here. The page contains various amendments that have been added to the bill, as well as the committee testimony of several experts, including Zwicki and Phillip Strauss.

A real reform measure that reduces bankruptcy abuse, this bill is just and will serve to help our nation's economy further along.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Monday, March 14, 2005

CHINA "ANTI-SESESSION" ACT CERTAINLY NOT ANTI-ESCALATION. At Guns and Butter Blog, Discovery Institute Senior Fellow James Na provides interesting insight on communist China's recently-enacted anti-secession law and briefly the future of Chinese/Taiwanese relations.

I don't pretend to be an expert on the sticky situation betwee China and Taiwan (and the U.S., for that matter), but one can hardly argue with Na's conclusion:

...never trust a promise of "autonomy" made by leaders of a communist dictatorship.

His post also includes a reference to last night's Simpsons episode--which was a real crack-up.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
NINJA SCHOOLING WASHINGTON STATE'S CLONING SUPPORTERS. At Secondhand Smoke, Wesley J. Smith zeroes in on House Bill 1268—a bill promoting human cloning in Washington State. He ably exposes the disturbing implications of this legation.

Some national attention had recently been given to the Senate’s version of cloning legislation—Substitute Senate Bill 5594. (All of which has been blogged about--first, here, and most recently, here.)

HB 1268 is lengthier and has some slight differences from SSB 5594, but in many respects the House version is the clone of the misleading Senate version. Smith goes on to make the comparison: their cores, both the House and Senate bills would permit cloned fetal farming. Like the Senate, the House bill would explicitly permit human cloning. And, like the Senate bill, it would also permit cloned fetal farming by prohibiting the "cloning of a human being," while defining the concept politically (instead of biologically) as implanting the cloned embryo in order to bring about the birth of a cloned baby. Thus, under both bills, if the purpose of cloning and implantation is the gestation of a cloned fetus for use in medical experiments or body part harvesting, no law would be broken.

This is remarkable stuff. But apparently, Old Media/Legacy Media types don’t consider it news. Why not? As Smith goes on to say:

Why are journalists ignoring such an important development in the cloning controversy; and, what do the cloners intend to do with their broad cloning and gestating state licenses?

Indeed, HB 1268 contains some very sweeping langauge. Take Section 5, Sub (4):

Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict areas of biomedical, agricultural, and scientific research not specifically prohibited by this section, including somatic cell nuclear transfer or other cloning technologies to clone molecules, DNA, cells and tissues.

Taking things a step further than the fetal farming Smith describes, what implications does this language have about cloning technologies involving the creation of chimeras--i.e., human-animal hybrid creatures? The broad language of this section appears to give the green light to the unethical engineering of such creatures. Though it shocks the conscience and even seems reminiscent of some adolescent horror/sci-fi flick, some scientists hope to use cloning techniques to produce such human-animal hybrids for further experimentation.

The U.S. Patent Office recently ruled on an application concerning this disturbing concept. (See the Washington Post story, here.) Other outlets—including National Geographic News—have chronicled efforts in this regard. (Smith has a Daily Standard piece on this ,here, and one can also find a re-print of James Bottum‘s 2000 Weekly Standard article “The pig-man cometh,” through Findarticles, here).

Recently, I received from Amazon my copy of Michael Fumento’s book Bioevolution, which highlights all of the many technological and medical breakthroughs and benefits that can come from biotech. Our elected leaders COULD promote all the best aspects of biotech by choosing to improve our state’s overall business climate, in general. THAT would be the best thing they could do for business and biotech. But some members of our legislature have become preoccupied with an ethically disconcerting practice, instead. Why are they instead proposing legislation that would created a class of human life targeted for destruction and harvesting?

At the time of this posting, both bills have yet to come up for floor votes in their respective houses. They should both be strongly opposed.

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

CHEWBACCA ROARS AGAIN! Tonight I finally had a chance to view the trailer to Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Impressive. Of course, you can't tell too much about a film from the trailer--be it script, acting, story, etc. No signs of Jar Jar. Lots of space battles and Jedi lightsaber duels. And a brief cut of Chewbacca, which ALONE makes the movie worth seeing!

Only AOL subscribers or folks who have memberships to the Hyperspace Star Wars Fan Club (or whateva the heck it's called) are supposed to have access to the trailer. I got in through AOL. While I've long been a huge SW fan, there's no way I'd pay for that fan club dealy. Mr. George Lucas has already made boatloads of money off of me, thank you. And he will again when the movie, DVD and all the rest come out...

TheForce.Net has long been an outstanding resource for SW fans. Posted there is a frame-by-frame summary of the entire trailer. (Slight spoiler warning.) A list of the cast can be found on the official SW site (here). I'm delighted to see that there will be a younger Governor/Grand Moff Tarkin in Episode III.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)