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, March 26, 2005

ARKES ON EXECUTIVE ACTION IN SCHIAVO CASE. Over at The Remedy, Prof. John Eastman has posted a very interesting suggestion and comment by Prof. Hadley Arkes about a possible course of action open to Florida Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case. Some challenging issues of separation-of-powers and constitutional duty are involved. As of this posting, none of the Claremont scholars have weighed in with any responses or elaborations upon Prof. Arkes' ideas. (I would advise checking back again sometime to see if they do.)

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Friday, March 25, 2005

ROID OUTRAGE TO KEEP SLUGGERS FROM COOPERSTOWN? There’s an interesting Sports Illustrated article, available online, discussing the respective chances of Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire making it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, in wake of Major League Baseball’s steroids scandal.

As the article notes that HOF candidates require seventy-five percent of the vote for election to Cooperstown. According to the survey of writers mentioned in the article:

McGwire got just 55.6 percent support from those who gave a yes/no response, while Bonds was at 80.8 percent.


Perhaps the fact that Bonds career is still continuing and the additional fact that McGwire’s retirement was relatively recent, I had not thought about the impact the roid revelations would have on possible steroid-using sluggers’ chances of making the HOF.

What I consider to be one of the most prescient comments on this matter comes from Joe Posnanski of the Kansas City Star:

We're too close to this thing to get a good feel of it. I was marching in that parade in 1998, when Mark McGwire hit 70 homers and was the great American hero. Back then nobody wanted to hear about andro or steroids or any of that. Forget Hall of Fame, he could have been a senator. Now, we're in the middle of this steroids mess, there are new rumors all the time, and McGwire is getting beaten up everywhere you turn. I think we need some distance.


By the way, on a different but baseball-related note, I had another baseball dream the other night. I had somehow transported back in time to the mid-1960s and was watching a Cincinnati Reds' game, with now-Hall of Famer catcher Johnny Bench at the plate. Perhaps I was thinking about my July trip to the Cincinnati area. Incidentally, I look forward to seeing their new stadium. I've seen a couple games at old Riverfront--which was nothing too spectacular--and so I expect something good.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
CLONING BILL CONTINUES ITS MAD SCIENCE MARCH THROUGH THE STATE LEGISLATURE. Sweeping legislation promoting human cloning—in the guise of House Bill 1268—will once again go before the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee on Monday, March 28 (subject to change, according to state’s summary page).

This bill will certainly be a topic of conversation on Saturday’s Republican Radio, when Sound Politics’ own Marsha Richards interviews Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith. Smith will discuss human cloning and the Terri Schiavo case that has been grabbing so many national headlines. Richards will be interviewing Smith between 11:20am to Noon, with station lists and streaming audio available here.

HB 1268, which I last blogged about here, states that “[a]ny attempt to clone a human being is in direct conflict with the policies of this state.” But the bill engages in deception through political re-definition of terms. The context of the quoted sentence is a paragraph that re-defines “cloning of a human being” to simply mean cloning a human and bringing it all the way to birth. The bill also paves the way for fetal farming and the cloning of animal-human hybrids, among other things.

Last week, HB 1268 was the subject of a lengthy floor debate in the House of Representatives. The bill passed by a vote of 59-36. The House roll call vote is available through HB 1268’s summary page. Some courageous Representatives offered some amendments that would have made a horrible bill a little less horrible, but all of them failed.

Sadly, some of the only local coverage of the bill has focused upon some controversial statements made about the bill on the house floor. (See Wednesday’s article in The Olympian, here.) Why wasn't there coverage about the utter deception pertetrated by the now-dead Senate Bill 5594, which initially claimed to outlaw all human cloning? Why no serious attention to the possibility of fetal farming and other ethically problematic practices that HB 1268 seeks to promote?

In any case, I have not yet had a chance to listen to March 15 floor debate on HB 1268 (which is archived at TVW’s site, here). Those who are most interested in preventing the reduction of human life to a raw material for harvesting would do well to avoid making inflammatory analogies or bringing in extraneous issues into the debate. At bottom, the issue is this: should the laws of the state promote the creation of a class of human life that is targeted for destruction for medical experimentation or does human life have inherent worth and dignity that is worthy of respect?

My prior post also discusses the prevailing lack of understanding demonstrated by the Senate Committee members the last time they dealt with such cloning legislation. It will be interesting to see what they do this time around.

Going back to Smith and the Terri Schiavo case, be sure to check out his recent blog post at Secondhand Smoke concerning his Court TV debate with a bioethicist. Smith got the so-called bioethicist (heh) to agree that Terri’s organs should be subject to harvesting...

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
WOW. Today's MUST-READ is William Krystal's "Evolving Standards of Decency," at Daily Standard. I have nothing to add on this one. The article speaks for itself.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

BARRY BONDS TO BE OUT OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL? In "Baseball's Lucky Break," Wall Street Journal's Allen Barra discusses San Francisco Giant outfielder Barry Bonds' recent press conference. Bonds discussed his knee injury and basically blamed the media for it. He seemed to go so far as to say the media could conceivably keep him out of the game for good. We'll see. He could be back by mid-season, as he is closing in on Babe Ruth's home run record. (Bonds has 703, whereas Ruth had 714. Hank Aaron stands at 755.)

Barra goes so far as to suggest that a Bonds retirement could be good for MLB, which is going through some dark days, in wake of the steriods scandal:

...Mr. Bonds's bombshell may have come at the best possible time for baseball. Surely one person elated by the news--and who is no doubt praying that Mr. Bonds's retirement talk was genuine--is Commissioner Bud Selig. No public-relations crisis in years--some say since the Black Sox scandal of 1919--looked to be as ugly as the one looming for MLB as Mr. Bonds approaches Babe Ruth's career mark...

In my view, Barra correctly surmises that if Bond proceeds to shatter Ruth's record and take on Aaron, rumors and chatter will continue about the legitimacy of Bonds' accomplishments--regardless of the effectiveness of new steroid rules in baseball.

Says Barra:

...Mr. Bonds's assault on baseball's two most cherished statistics, Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's, will bring questions about his past drug use back into the news, regardless of how players fare in this season's drug tests.


Nice Guys Finish Third--a blog mostly devoted to the Seattle Mariners--has a post about the same Bonds' press conference, etntitled "Of Jerks and Men." A comparison is made between Bonds and the late Ted Williams. The comparison seems to bottom in the fact that they were both very ego-driven and not fans of the media. (By way of contrast, Williams was never accused of using steroids.) The point IS made that we don't know for sure whether Bonds used steroids. That is all true while I am strongly opposed to steroid use and hope that the current MLB rules are vigorously enforced, I don't consider myself all bent out of shape over Bonds' case. The facts will eventually come out.

However, I don't feel sorry for Bonds on the media issue. Sure he has faced a lot of media scrutiny. But he's been involved in business that at least appears to be shady. Furthermore, he's a baseball super star and a multimillionaire. This doesn't mean he should be treated unfairly, but that kind of attention comes with the territory. Its a trade-off. If he doesn't like the attention he can retire.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

EVER HAVE THE FEELIN' YOU WAS BEIN' WATCHED? RISE OF THE ANTI-SETH COOPER BLOG. A new blog entitled Lemmings with Tweezers has been started by an pseudonymous blogger as a "watchdog" for my own, much-neglected blog.

The blogger is using the pseudonym "Secret Pooh"--an anagram of my own name, and posted a response to my cursory comments about Byron York's article about the MoveOn.org rally against the President's judicial nominees. Earlier this morning I made some follow-up remarks in the comments below.

The pseudonymous blogger appears to have a sense of humor, and that is appreciated. So while that blog is an anti-Seth Cooper blog, I can't say just yet that "Secret Pooh" has risen to the level of arch-nemesis.

In fact, the last time I had an arch-nemesis was the second grade. Back then, I had a SERIOUS rival, whom I shall call Bob Horvath (rather than cause consternation or embarrassment to him by using his real name). I fought and competed against Bob every day at recess. EVERY day. I'm arrogant or biased enough to say that I emerged victorious from most of our encounters. Though he did get me pretty good when he and a friend of his teamed up to snap chinese jump-ropes in my face, I managed to throw a football with a perfect spiral right into his own eye. Ha! Bob later got a different sidekick, whom I nicknamed "Elmer." Elmer always complained about being called Elmer. But the name stuck and everyone called him that. Bob also had a tendency to pretend he was a robot out to destroy me...

To return from memory lane, I will just say that folks who are afraid to be challenged in their views often betray their own lack of self-confidence or are probably too close-minded. So I always welcome disagreement. And people who cannot sit back and occasionally laugh at themselves shouldn't be blogging.

That being said, nothing posted on Lemmings with Tweezers will affect what the core of what it is I do on this blog. I fully intend to keep on keepin' on, commenting and analyzing the news, events, stories and any and all other items of the day as I see fit.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
WILL THE FEC USE CAMPAIGN FINANCE LAW TO STIFLE BLOGGERS? In recent posting I’ve discussed the possibility of the FEC trying to regulate the political speech of bloggers through McCain-Feingold. Today’s editorial at Opinion Journal discusses the subject. The editorial states that some forces out there want to see bloggers regulated.

I’ve been outspoken in my opposition to campaign finance reform and to the prospect of the FEC cracking down on the new media. However, it would be helpful if the editorial had suggested just who those folks are who want to see bloggers regulated. Senator Kerry? Senator McCain? Senator Lott? Dan Rather? George Soros? WHO?

I’m not suggesting that no one serious out there wants to see bloggers’ political speech stifled, but I would appreciate it if they NAMED NAMES so that the blogosphere could take them on.

As a footnote, be sure to check out today's post from Prof. Eugene Volokh, discussing what is apparently a draft of FEC rules for internet communications. Prof. Volokh provides some provocative comments.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
MASUGI COMMENTS ON SCHIAVO CASE. Like most everyone else, I've been a distant spectator to the case of Terri Schiavo. Today at The Remedy, The Claremont Institute's Ken Masugi discusses some of the federalism and separation of power concerns raised by conservative thinkers and legal scholars.

Some of the discussion centers around statutory interpretation and the legal standards for obtaining injunctive relief in a court of law. But I would surmise the federalism issues would be more profound. Honestly, I've not had the time to look into the law that was recently passed through Congress and signed by the President, which had given Terri another chance at extending her life through the federal courts.

These types of matters are most often handled by state courts. But the fact that something has traditionally been within the province of state courts does not present a constitutional barrier to federal pre-emption. I am certainly NOT a subscriber to "process federalism"--which says that federalism and the relationship between the federal government and the respective state governments (and the relationships AMONGST state governments) is merely left to the protection of the political process. However, given that Congressional power is plenary when it comes with the ambit of an enumerated power grant (or such a grant in conjunction with a related enforcement clause), one could probably find a constitutional justification for the law that Congress recently enacted. (Here I'm thinking through the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, in conjunction with the 14th's Enforecement Clause.) Whether the enacting of a law is politically or prudentially appropriate is an important and related matter, but nonetheless different matter.

Again, I make all these observations without having read the statute involved in this case. That being said, my cursory observation of the situation leads me to wonder just where the Florida trial judge is coming from on this. I've been involved in some guardianship cases, and once upon a time thought that these sorts of matters were things I would routinely be taking up. It certainly occurs to me that there is a SIGNIFICANT conflict-of-interest issue going on. The husband has two children by another woman--his de facto new wife. There have been serious arguments raised about his unwillingness to see that Terri get treatment that could potentially improve her condition. But it looks like she will never even get that chance. Further, I am of the view that there is a distinction that can be made between the usage of feeding tubes and the usage of life support machines.

From here, I will just be watching things transpire. I don't have the up-to-the-minute report, but I highly doubt the U.S. Supremes will step in. We'll just have to wait and see what happens next...

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

FILIBUSTER FUNNIES... NR White House Correspondent Byron York provides some entertaining anecdotes from MoveOn.org’s recent “Rally for Fair Judges” in his recent NRO contribution, “Right On, MoveOn!”

As York tells it:

The rally might not have presented an entirely coherent message, but it did send the signal that MoveOn has achieved a new level of prominence and influence in Washington, and that the group intends to be closely involved in the battle over judicial nominations.


Particularly amusing was Sen. Robert Byrd:

"Praise God!" Byrd yelled as he waved the copy of the Constitution he famously keeps in his coat pocket. "Hallelujah!"


Could you imagine a Republican Senator doing something like that? Charges of theocracy would run rampant. Better yet, what if one of the President’s nominees were to make such a display. One would expect Sen. Schumer would call him or her out for having “deeply held beliefs.” Someone might accuse such a nominee of being a proponent of natural law. Gasp! But it is nice to see Sen. Byrd actually referring to the written Constitution. After all, Sen. Byrd could’ve waved around an international treaty, signed by Nigeria, Libya or North Korea and described how American needs to update the Constitution to comport with the evolving international standards of decency.

Here’s another funny one:

When MoveOn organizer Ben Brandzel warmed up the crowd by vowing that he would not surrender to a president trying to "sell out our democracy for right-wing corporate hack judges," Byrd yelled out, "No!"


Jeepers…

Particularly noteworthy is the manner in which Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Alen Specter was treated. Writes York:

…Boxer expressed a certain fundamental lack of respect for the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. Referring to Leahy, who is the ranking Democrat on the committee, Boxer said, "I call him my chairman of the Judiciary Committee, because I don't recognize anyone else" — a remark that seemed to speak volumes about the effectiveness of Specter's efforts to reach out to Democrats.


I can’t fault Sen. Specter, President Bush, and the other Republicans for tryin’ to be nice. So far, the overtures have not met with any concessions by the other side, only an unprecedented filibuster.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
FURTHER POSTING ON BANKRUPTCY BILL. I have a post today at Sound Politics on bankruptcy reform, entitled "Cantwell Can't Find the Center on Bankpruptcy Reform Bill."

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, March 21, 2005

FUND ON CAMPAIGN FINANCE FUNNY BU$INE$$. "John Fund on the Trail" continues to be a must-read column at Opinion Journal. Today's installment is entitled "Astroturf Politics: How liberal foundations fooled Congress into passing McCain-Feingold." It's an outstanding journalistic effort by Fund, as he relates some very disturbing insights into forces supporting the passage of federal campaign finance reforms.

If Fund is even half-way correct, it is indeed very disconcerting to see how the political branches of the federal government can be led along to approve of such legislation, subsequently allowing the judicial branch to enshrine it as supreme law of the land. As Fund points out, a small cadre of left-of-center foundations and organizations proved particularly adept at pushing the legislation through:

...the results were spectacular. Not only did the effort succeed in bulldozing Congress and President Bush, but it might have played a role in persuading the Supreme Court, which had previously ruled against broad restrictions on political speech, to declare McCain-Feingold constitutional in 2003 on a 5-4 vote. "You will see that almost half the footnotes relied on by the Supreme Court in upholding the law are research funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts," Mr. Treglia boasted.


Zoinks! But this itself was not enough, as it took an Old Media/Legacy Media establishment to carry water for the proponents of the legislation. Says Fund:

...Washington media types overwhelmingly wanted McCain-Feingold to pass.


Pass that law did, although some legislators--like Sen. Mitch McConnell--mustered up enough courage to speak out. With a majority of the the Supreme Court signing off on the legislation's constitutionality, Big Money and Big Media combined to give us law that limits political speech. One would think that if the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were to protect ANYTHING, it would be political speech. But that is clearly not the contingent reality.

Questions have arisen as to whether the FEC would try to crack down on polibloggers. It is unlikely, but should we ALWAYS trust the benevolence of bureaucrats?

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)