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, April 08, 2005

SCRAPPLEFACE! If you're not a regular visitor to Scrappleface, you should be. (ANd if you're a blogger, it should be on your blogroll.) It's a hilarious site. There's a great story today about Sen. Kerry and the election of the new Pope.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

YORK ON THE VLWC. NRO has been featuring excerpts of Byron York's new book on the Left's emotional and professional advocacy bases, as well as a Q&A session between York and NRO's Editor.

Today's excerpt, "Going Viral," discusses MoveOn's discovery of a new purpose for existence: opposing the War on Terror. Particularly jaw-dropping is the reaction of one leftist filmmaker's activism in opposition to ANY military action in response to the 9/11 attacks. This is baffling. It can only be comprehended if one begins with an utter lack of moral clarity. Islamicist terrorists have declared war on all of America--civilians included--out of their hatred for America and its way of life. But this Pickering guy that York describes saw the aftermath as America's best chance for peace--which could only come through disregarding the terrorists deepest commitments and designs and trying to be super-duper nice to them.

But the American people had too much sense for that kind of delusional thinking. And the War on Terror continues, with exciting new developments in Afghanistan and Iraq. The peoples of those nations are finally getting their chance at self-government, with governments respecting the rule of law and human rights emerging in those countries.

What impresses me about York's new book is that he does NOT tout his book as an effort to SLAM the new leading advocacy organizations of the left. Rather, says York:

Even though the book is quite critical of their work, the one thing I tried to do throughout was to take them and their organizations seriously. I didn't write the book to trash them or call them names. I wrote it to figure out what they are doing. One of the themes I hope readers will draw from the book is that, whatever the excesses of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, conservatives and Republicans should take it seriously.

Since Amazon dot com was quite slow in making shipments from their warehouse, I do not yet have my copy of York's VLWC. But I should have it soon, and continue to look forward to reading it.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
SCHIAVO MEMO MYSTERY SOLVED? Hindrocket has a post at Powerline, discussing a recent AP story and a WaPo story about the "Schiavo Memo" that some Old Media/Legacy Media outlets were referring to as a memo by "Republican Officials" or "party leaders." It appears that the memo was by a staffer or the counsel of fresman Florida Republican Senator Mel Martinez.

Greg Piper has his comments, at The Smoking Room.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

...BUT YOU CAN'T CRITICIZE THE COURTS!!! Recent articles in Slate, New York Times, and elsewhere have been complaining about center-right criticisms of judicial decisions. This is nothing new. Critics of controversial court decision have routinely been criticized THEMSELVES for daring to question the unassailable wisdom of judges.

But why? If we can criticize the President and we can criticize the Congress and criticize state governments--and do so harshly--then why can't we criticize the judiciary? Federal judges have lifetime appointments and a nice retirement package. If they can't stand the heat...

So when I hear cries that judicial independence is being undermined by people exercising their free speech rights, I am decidedly unsympathetic. When I hear elitists complain about citizens having little respect for the latest federal court case making headlines or for undermining the prestige of the courts--I am none too concerned. The respect and prestige of the federal judiciary has risen and fallen throught the years, and rightly so. The Great John Marshall handed down some important, landmark decisions that helped solidify the young nation. Conversely, Chief Justice Taney authored a horrendous opinion in Dredd Scott that helped to precipitate the Civil War. Further, a post-Civil War Supreme Court WRONGLY and SEVERELY limited the powers of the Congress under the 14th Amendment to deal with the mistreatment of the freedmen in the Southern states (and throught the nation). But then the court came through in a moment of moral triumph to end the wrongful practice of school segregation in the 1950s.

It is undoubtedly so that many criticisms of our judiciary raised by observers miss the rationales underlying such decisions or are the product of poor reasoning. But so are many attacks on the President and Congress. Seeing as the federal judiciary is taking an ever-increasing role in regulating the day-to-day activities, it is incumbent upon a free and self-governing people committed to the rule of law to speak out when they believe one of the co-equal branches has overstepped its boundaries or failed in its important role.

Sometimes people have a hard time hearing opinions with which they disagree. I suspect this is quite often the case for proponents of judicial supremacy. Rather than complain about the criticisms of major court cases, they should give reasons for supporting the decisions in those cases.

Deacon and Hindrocket have comments at Powerline about criticisms of the courts and the criticizers of court critics. I particularly appreciate Deacon's following comment:

Consider Justice Ginsburg. I have no basis for thinking that she is other than thoughtful and erudite. However, she recently stated that U.S. courts should continue to look to foreign law and legal thinking for guidance in part because the way foreigners view America is influenced by what they think about our legal system. In other words, judges should look beyond the law and concern themselves with shaping America's image abroad. Yet if one were to suggest to Ginsburg that the Supreme Court should worry about what Americans think of our legal system, Ginsburg or her admirers would probably consider the suggestion an attack on judicial independence.

Powerline remains one of the best blogs around--if not THE best.

Oh, and by the way, I hear FAR LESS complaints about criticisms levelled against constitutionalist judges such as Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia and the federalism cases where they have been in the majority. If someone disagrees with, say, the Supreme Court's 1995 decision of U.S. v. Lopez--striking down the Gun Free School Zone Act as beyond the scope of the commerce clause--I don't think judicial independence is undermined. I actually like to hear a good critique. It provides for an opportunity to engage in further debate and dialogue about how to deal with such issues and the paramaters of enumerated powers.

The Constitution was written for "We the People." And "We the People" should feel free to speak our mind about all three branches of government, elitists and judicial supremacists notwithstanding.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Monday, April 04, 2005

THE "VAST LEFT-WING CONSPIRACY" CONSIDERED. Tuesday's Opinion Journal has an article by Jacob Laksin, reviewing National Review reporter Byron York's new book, The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy. (The full title reads: The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of How Democratic Operatives, Eccentric Billionaires, Liberal Activists, and Assorted Celebrities Tried to Bring Down a President--and Why They'll Try Even Harder Next Time.)

Laksin gives the book a strong endorsement, recounting some of the ways in which the MoveOn folks got things so completely wrong in this last election, and focusing on the immense amount of anger by the anti-Bush crowd. "Conspiracy" in the sense used by Laksin (and, presumably by York) doesn't mean mysterious, powerful people meeting behind-closed-doors in smoke-filled rooms to unhatch sinister schemes. Regardless, I love the title of the book. I find it catchy.

Long have I been awaiting the release of York's book. Laksin's review prompted me to order it through Amazon. Hopefully, I'll be reading through it by the weekend.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
MORE ON THE "FAKE BUT ACCURATE" SCHIAVO MEMO. Powerline has another post on the "talking points" memo about Teri Schiavo that some Old Media outlets previously claimed was created and/or distributed to GOP members of Congress by GOP leaders. Hindrocket gives the bottom line about the WaPo story pushing the memo:

So the original story was wrong, and a correction is necessary--not only by the Post, but by every newspaper that ran the incorrect story, and by the many columnists that picked up on the fake story and used it to beat up on the Senate Republicans.

Also, James Na offers his thoughts on this saga, at Guns and Butter Blog.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
SEATTLE MARINERS' OPENING DAY A GOOD DAY. Thanks to two home runs by new first baseman Richie Sexson and solid pitching by Jamie Moyer and the bullpen, the Mariners went on to a 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins. Ichiro came through with two singles.

Curiously, eight of the thirty-eight minor-league baseball players receiving suspensions by MLB under a new illegal substances policy are in the Mariners' organization. The Seattle P-I's Mariners' weblog has a post on this (here), but offers no hint or speculation as to why so many Mariner minor-leaguers are being suspended. Damian Moss and Ryan Christiansen are amongst those receiving suspensions. Hmm...

The P-I M's blog also notes that one-time pitching prospect Ryan Anderson (aka the "Young Unit") has been released by the Mariners. It is dsappointing that Anderson was never able to get past injuries and some apparent personal issues and make it to the Bigs...

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
BRINGING CLARITY TO THE WA STATE CLONING DEBATE. Engrossed House Bill 1268 is a legislative endorsement of human cloning. Previously blogged about here (and later, here), this disturbing bill leaves the door wide open for unethical experiments involving fetal farming and the creation of animal-human hybrid species or sub-species.

In a deceptive twist, the bill claims that the cloning of human beings conflicts with the policies of the state. This is subterfuge. The bill’s text includes a political re-definition of “cloning of a human being.” The only thing EHB 1268 purports to look down upon is the act of giving birth to a cloned human being.

EHB 1268 is now before the Senate Ways & Means Committee. It was passed out of the Senate Labor, Commerce, Research & Development Committee last week. Sen. Jeannie Kohl-Welles, who had sponsored a cloning bill of her own, is the Chair of the Senate LCRD Committee. It was Sen. Kohl-Welles who demonstrated her unwillingness to deal with the facts in a February 8 hearing over the now-dead SB 5594:

(SEN. FRANKLIN: Asks medical doctor Sharon Quick, M.D. a question about embryonic stem cells.)

DR. QUICK: Embryonic stem cells can be derived from either cloned or non-cloned embryos, such as in intro vitro fertilization. And so the embryo is formed at the one cell stage, when you have the union of an egg and a sperm, or in the case of a cloned embryo you have a body cell that’s combined with an egg that’s had its nucleus removed. So in either of those cases you have a one-celled embryo with a full compliment DNA. Then the embryo is grown and developed to about the five-to-seven day stage, at which point it can either be implanted into a womb—for the purpose of life—or it can be destroyed and then its stem cells are grown in a Petri dish. And that’s the so-called embryonic stem cell line, which can either be a cloned embryonic stem cell line or it can be a non-cloned embryonic stem cell line. Embryonic stem cells require the destruction of a human life, whereas adult stem cells are taken from adults, from children, from umbilical chord blood or from placenta, and they do not require the destruction of human life—

SEN KOHL-WELLES: --Dr. Quick, thank you very much, that’s—that is one perspective on it. There are other perspectives which we’ll likely hear, later on. Thank you all for being here today. We’re going to on to our next bill…

Is it just “one perspective” that destroying embryonic stem cells for harvesting involves the destruction of human life? Does the science not matter? Is Sen. Kohl-Welles abandoning scientific understanding for post-modernism? Some persons might even argue (wrongly, in my view) that embryos do not have full “personhood”—but WHO can deny that human embryos are human life? (If human embryos weren’t really “human” or “human life,” then it wouldn’t be wrong to eat them, would it?)

(The audio can be found by searching here. That part of the exchange takes place approximately 1:06:30 into the Feb. 8 hearing.)

Dr. Leon Kass, Chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, has pointed out the difficulties inherent in arguing that all human embryos have an absolute “right to life”—i.e., a right to be implanted in a womb and gestated. But Dr. Kass makes abundantly clear that human embryos are human life, and entitled to respect and dignity.

Let me re-emphasize that last part of that committee hearing exchange:

DR. QUICK: Embryonic stem cells require the destruction of a human life, whereas adult stem cells are taken from adults, from children, from umbilical chord blood or from placenta, and they do not require the destruction of human life—

SEN. KOHL-WELLES: …that’s—that is one perspective on it.”

Most people would consider it self-evident that human life is entitled to respectful and dignified treatment, simply because it’s human. Should Sen. Kohl-Welles have us instead believe this merely amounts to “one perspective”?

It is easy to get sidetracked by bringing other issues into this debate. But a large consensus can be reached on this point: it is wrong to create a category of human life that is grown just so that it will be destroyed for its material resources. EHB 1268, however, comes to the opposite conclusion.

Greater attention is now being brought to this troubling type of legislation. Whereas SSB 5594 passed the Senate LCRD Committee without opposition, a minority of the committee gave a “do not pass” recommendation to EHB 1268 last week.

On March 26, Sound Politics contributor Marsha Richards interviewed Discovery Institute Senior Fellow Wesley J. Smith. The two had an interesting discussion on number of bioethical issues, including cloning and EHB 1268. The audio of that conversation can be found online (here).

Tomorrow (Tuesday), Smith will be speaking at Seattle University School of Law. The title of his NOON talk is “Contemporary Bioethics: Creating a Disposable Caste?” The event is sponsored by the SU Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies, with the SU Health Law Society co-sponsoring. (Further details here.)

In addition to EHB 1268, E2SSB 5581—the life sciences discovery fund bill—also contains the same type of problematic laguage about cloning. There may be much to commend in E2SSB 5581, as invstment in medical science and the growing field of biotechnology have an abundance of benefits to offer humanity. But in its current form, the bill presents the same sort of problems as EHB 1268. Amendments are badly needed for both bills. Amendments containing GENUINE bans on all forms of human cloning would make such legislation acceptable.

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Sunday, April 03, 2005


(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)