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, April 21, 2005

SOULLESS CLONES SCOURING OUR SEWERS! Timothy Goddard has a delightfully funny blog post responding to a recent letter to the editor that appeared in The Herald (Snohomish County, WA), attacking our recent op-ed on cloning legislation in Washington State.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

STATE HOUSE MAJORITY CREATES A BACK-DOOR CLONING BILL? E2SSB 5581 – The Life Sciences Discovery Fund Bill – passed the Senate with a strong ban on human cloning. Unsatisfied with idea that the State should NOT condone and fund the growing of human life for the sake of destroying it and harvesting it for resources, amendments were made in House committees to the bill.

The House version of E2SSB 5581 gives the green light to state funded human cloning. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence. Senate debate is expected soon.

The Senate passed a bill on the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (available here). The Senate version defined "human being" and cloning in an honest, straight-forward manner and stated:

No person shall knowingly clone a human being, participate in cloning a human being, or attempt to clone a human being.

Senate should stick with what they already passed and REJECT the House’s blank check for human cloning.

If the Senate does NOT concur with the House’s changes, then the bill will be sent to a joint conference committee to hammer out the disagreements.

This debate does NOT have to be about the Life Sciences Discovery Fund. We can still have the fund without calling for human cloning. The Senate version of E2SSB 5581 allows for precisely this. But fifty-three members of the House have muddied the waters. They have called for human cloning in this legislation—using the people’s money, no less.

I acknowledge that all sorts of arguments have been raised about the funding of the project contemplated by the bill--whether the money should come from private industry, whether it is right that we divert money the state will receive from tobacco companies via the Master Settlement Agreement into biotech, etc. On the other hand, biotech and life sciences research offers a variety of benefits for humankind and our way of life. But if THESE sorts of arguments were all that this bill was about, I wouldn’t bother to weigh in.

Growing human life solely for the purpose of destroying it as a natural resource is wrong. The Senate version of E2SSB 5581 does not conflict with this necessary truth. Sadly, the House version opens the door to ethically dangerous practices.

Last Wednesday’s edition of The Herald featured an op-ed co-authored by myself and fellow Sound Politics contributor Timothy Goddard. We identified the ethical dangers associated with EHB 1268. Granted, the House version of E2SSB 5581 would not explicitly enshrine human cloning into Washington State law the way EHB 1268 would. Nonetheless, the House’s E2SSB 5581 would allow funding for the very same thing.

(Cross-blogged at Sound Politics.)

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
SIEGEL AT PLU: POLITICS & POPULISM. Last night I made it down to Pacific Lutheran University (where I'm an alumn) to hear KTTH morning talk show host and author Mike Siegel speak to the PLU College Republicans. Siegel is a passionate speaker and entertaining, as always. His brand of populism in politics and talk radio certainly has strong appeal.

This was the first time I'd walked on the PLU campus, that I can recall, in five years. It made me miss the place. Hopefully, the PLU CRs will have plenty more events next year. Patrick Bell--whom I was glad to meet for the first time--is part of the group and one of the participants at their Respectfully, Republican blog. He assured me that they will have plenty in store for the fall.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

HOLSTEIN SPEAKS OUT AGAINST SPITZER. For some reason, I always enjoy reading articles about New York’s controversial Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer. He is a lightning-rod lawyer, with some fierce backers and strong detractors. In a prior blog post, I pointed to a Weekly Standard article that took AG Spitzer to task. Today’s Opinion Journal contains a shorter op-ed by William J. Holstein, which questions some of AG Spitzer’s actions and raises a conflict-of-interest question on a pending investigation by the NY AG’s office.

Most interesting to me is Holstein’s accusation that Spitzer abuses his of power through public bullying and intimidation:

So the New York attorney general both charges and convicts in the court of public opinion. This pattern of overcriminalization is of deep concern to many chief executives. The proper process is for judges or juries to convict defendants only after convincing themselves that a charge has been proven "beyond a reasonable doubt." Too much publicity can be deemed prejudicial.

While the office of Attorney General is (in most places) an elected, political office, the role is so closely tied with the legal process that a state’s top lawyer should be very careful in public comments. According to Holstein, the powerful AG Spitzer is ambitiously eyeing the Governorship of NY and using the powers of his office for political gain.

This is interesting stuff, and I must admit that I look forward to AG Spitzer’s campaign for Governor (as well as the race to determine his successor) simply for further discussion of how he has conducted himself as NY’s AG and for further analysis about the proper role for AGs in politically and legally charged world of today.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, April 18, 2005

HUGH HEWITT ON LOOMING SHOWDOWN OVER SENATE DEMS OBSTRUCTION & THE CONSTITUTIONAL OPTION. Via Radioblogger comes the transcript of Hugh Hewitt’s debate with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights’ Nancy Zirkin, moderated by Larry Kudlow (of "Kudlow & Company," on CNBC).

Larry Kudlow:

…Is Robert Novak right? Does Bill Frist have the votes? Or are some of the people you've been interviewing on your radio show right, and there's six or eight deserters in the Republican ranks? In other words, how does the politics play out in your view, Hugh?

Hugh Hewitt:

Well, I think John McCain went with the Democrats for the illegal obstruction. They're concerned about Senator Hagel, Senator Chafee, Senator Snowe. If Senators Chafee and Snowe vote against their party, they will be thrown out of office in 2006. I do want, Larry, to point out one important distinction between the way I'm arguing and the way Nancy is arguing. The internet is full of hate speech, calling Jim Dobson the Ayatollah bin Dobson, referring to the American Taliban, to Bill Frist's Jihadists. You just heard Nancy use very charged terms of theocracy, the radical, extreme right-wing. If all of these judges are in fact those things, they will not receive majority support. The Senate elections of 2004 and 2002 were fought on these very issues. The Republicans won on these very issues. Nancy holds a losing hand, because the American people don't agree with her as to how the mainstream is defined. And that's why next week at this time, I think Senator Frist is going to appeal the Democrats' illegal use of the cloture rule, to block appeals court judges, and he will be upheld by the Chair, and supported by a majority, including Ben Nelson of Nebraska, a Democrat.

The proponents of the unprecedented filibuster of ten appellate court nominees shriek at the prospect of majority rule in one of the chambers of our legislative branch. But the majority of the American people should also give them worry.

Curiously, as Radioblogger points out, Zirkin never did respond to Hewitt’s challenge from earlier in the debate, when he asked her to name a single judicial nominee that had been filibustered besides Justice Abe Fortas.

In any event, a couple months ago I had a chance to look through an interesting article in The Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy entitled “The Constitutional Option to Change Senate Rules and Procedures: A Majoritarian Means to Overcome the Filibuster.” It was written by Martin B. Gold and Dimple Gupta. The article analyzes Senate battles over the years that related to prospective Senate rule changes to overcome minority filibustering. The current debate over the rule change is nothing new. Only the filibustering of appellate court nominees is new—and it has gone on for too long.

Spike the Underdog (aka Matt Cole),a recent addition to my blogroll, has an excellent post on the filibustering follies, entitled “Pirates of the Senate.”

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
AN INTELLIGENT GUY TACKLES INTELLIGENCE REFORM. Today’s Wall Street Journal contains an article by WaPo’s James Hoagland, briefly discussing Chief Judge Richard Posner’s forthcoming book “Preventing Surprise Attacks : Reforming Intelligence in the Wake of 9/11.” According to Hoagland, Judge Posner provides a blistering critique of the post-9/11 reform efforts, including those recommended by the 9/11 Commission. Apparently, Judge Posner criticizes the makeup of the 9/11 Commission entire approach toward intelligence reform.

The bottom line for Hoagland: “You can't read this book and come away believing that Congress has fixed the problem.”

Having previously read some materials related to the 9/11 attacks—including the Report of the 9/11 Commission, I look forward to purchasing and reading Judge Posner’s book for an additional perspective. One need not always agree with Judge Posner—and one can certainly have strong disagreement with his utilitarianism—but he has a sharp mind and likely has some very interesting things to say about bureaucratic reform and the American intelligence community. And when it comes to national security, one should NEVER have sacred cows or be afraid of re-examine EVERYTHING.

Judge Posner comprises one half of the Becker-Posner Blog. Speaking of blogs, at present there is little mention of Posner’s new book on the blogosphere. A Technorati search left me coming away empty-handed. (UPDATE [5:02pm]: I did find a brief mention of the book at NRO's The Corner.) This would largely be due to the fact that the release date is not until July. But one should expect to hear plenty about Preventing Surprise Attacks—in both the old and new media--once it finally hits the shelves.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)