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, May 27, 2005

COALITION OF THE CHILLIN'... Timothy Goddard's recent post has brought to my attention the "Coalition of the Chillin'"--a group of bloggers who "aren't having a cow over fili-deal." I've decided not to become a member, since I do still have serious reservations about what the end-result of this deal will be (as I have blogged about previously). But The Coalition of the Chillin' has a good sense of humor and perspective on this. In fact, upon learning about the group I found myself having a good laugh. And The Coalition of the Chillin' might also be helpful in dispelling any tendency toward alarmism on the judical filibustering issue.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

MORE ON THE SENATE REPUBLICANS COMPROMISED---ER, "COMPROMISE." Following up on my last post, two more articles have caught my attention. The first is Hugh Hewitt's Daily Standard column, "Non-nuclear Fallout." Hewitt gives a rundown of the winners and losers--mostly losers--who emerge from this deal. I concur with Hewitt that Sen. John McCain's prospects for the Republican nomination just took a major hit.

Looking to the Senate Democrats and the consequences of the recent deal that was struck, Hewitt provides the following analysis:

[Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry] Reid and his colleagues cannot be blamed for trying to load up the poorly drafted memorandum with their spin. If they can sell a waiting-to-be sold media on the idea that the GOP gave up the Byrd/Constitutional/Nuclear Option, then the coming summer clashes over one or more Supreme Court vacancies will be tilted from the start towards Democratic talking points.

The Senate Republicans appear to have given away the high ground. They had a principled case to make against the anti-majority rule that has come govern the Senate concerning the confirmation of federal judges. The compromise gives the impression that they have traded in their principled case for a mere pragmatic deal to get a few judges in and avoid further discomfort to themselves.

I known little about Massachussetts Governor Mitt Romney and whether he or newly-elected Senator John Thune have Presidential aspirations. But I do know that both of these respective leaders have faced serious issues and shown moral courage and a sense of priority. The same can not much be said for those who capitulated to the Senate Dems tar 'n feathering of well-respected, highly-qualified nominees to the federal judiciary.

Next, Thomas Sowell's latest, "A Compromised Party," gives a somber assessment of the situation in the Senate. Notes Sowell:

...Democrats have long understood that they are in Washington to represent the people who voted for them. Too many Republicans seem to think that they are in Washington to make deals with the Democrats.

Dr. Sowell is spot on in his observation. Abandoning a President and qualified judicial nominees and avoiding "conflict" in the Senate is not the work of statesmanship, but of crass politics. Sowell provides another clear-cut observation:

You can always ease tensions and avoid confrontations by surrendering. You can always postpone a showdown, even when that simply lets the problem fester and grow worse.

And its probably more likely than not that things will get worse for the Senate Republicans who want to confirm solid nominees for the federal bench. Unfortunately, I must concur with Hewitt's sentiment:

The disfigured filibuster is a constitutional horror, and only the left's babblers pretend otherwise. Writing in a super-majority to the advice and consent clause of Article Two, Section 2 is simple willfulness by a deeply distressed political party, a naked power grab which should have been struck down immediately upon its introduction in 2003, and one which gains false credibility with every day it's left alive.

Perhaps the Senate Republicans who capitulated will find the courage to stage a comeback. Perhaps Democratic fillibusters of future appellate court nominees or U.S. Supreme Court nominees will give them the opportunity to redeem themselves. Or perhaps not.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
REPUBLICANS TAKE RAW DEAL ON JUDICIAL NOMINEES? I would count myself as one who is very skeptical of the Senate Republican's recent deal with the Senate Democrats concerning judicial nominees, Senate fillibustering and Senate Rule changes. Make no mistake: I am glad that Justice Priscilla Owen was recently confirmed by the Senate and I am likewise elated that both Justice Janice Rogers Brown and Judge William Pryor will receive confirmation votes before the full Senate. But this is a big part of Senate's are supposed to do: take votes.

True, the Dems look less-than-admirable by showing their willingness to let supposed "extremists" on the bench. It shows that their charges against three qualified nominees were all a ruse. But the Republicans might be making things more difficult for themselves down the road, when the Dems presumably fillibuster all the remaining circuit court of appeals nominees in question.

And then there's the issue of the next U.S. Supreme Court nominee. I would expect the Dems to FILLIBUSTER there, too. So the big question will remain whether or not the Republicans will take serious action should the Dems not live up to their side of the bargain. Not to mention a deeper problem: is the agreement too open-ended to give the Republicans solid traction in responding to Dem obstruction on other nominees to the federal judiciary?

The agreement still allows for Dem fillibustering in "extreme" cases. But Sens. Schumer, Leahy and Ted Kennedy all sound like broken records when it comes to that word. They say "extreme" or "extremist" ALL THE TIME. Why would Republicans want to let those three guys determine what the mainstream is? The most recent Presidential and congressional eletions give a far better indication of what the mainstream is--and its not in line with Schumer, Leahy & Kennedy.

Talk about the recent bi-partisan deal continues. "Admission of Guilt," by Senator John Cornyn remains one of the best reads on the subject--although I give honorable mention to Prof. Douglas Kmiec for "Forfeiting Principle."

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

TAXPAYER-FUNDED HUMAN EMBRYO DESTRUCTION: MY VOTE IS FOR VETO. Growing attention is being paid to legislation just passing through the House of Representatives that would devote more taxpayer dollars to the immediate destruction of human embryos for embryonic stem cell research. One sometimes wonders if many members of Congress never find a spending program they don't like.

DeRoy Murdoch has an excellent article about the funding of embryonic stem cell research at NRO.

I oppose the legislation in question, and support President Bush's commitment to veto the legislation. This would be the first exercise of a veto by this President and I think the occasion would most certainly merit it.

Some of the President's critics falsely claim that the President has banned stem cell research in America. Not so. And that would be an extraordinary act of executive power were that true. But the claim is false. The President allowed the use of federal funds for human embryos that had been destroyed--but he did not allow for taxpayer dollars to fund the destruction of further human embryos for harvesting. States and private companies are still free to fund and conduct embryonic stem cell research. And nothing prohibits the morally UN-problematic exerimentation with adult stem cells. An editorial from Thursday's OpinionJournal correctly sets the record straight in this regard.

My overall stance is this: ban all human cloning, and prohibit the use taxpayer funds for embryonic stem cell research. This means that some embryonic stem cell research will take place outside of taxpayer funding, but it still outlaws the growing of human life for the sole purpose of destroying it and using it as raw materials. (If you're unfamiliar with this issue, then the distiction will probably make little sense to you and I suggest you do some research.)

And so, I also think the editorial is right to commend the President for his willingness to protect the dignity of human life:

...we're glad Mr. Bush is at least drawing a line somewhere. His critics often sound as if the promise of scientific progress raises no ethical questions and is itself a kind of moral trump card. Millions of Americans also want to draw a line, and that includes not being forced to pay for destroying human embryos.

NRO has a recent Q&A with Wesley J. Smith--conducted by Katharine Jean Lopez. The whole thing is interesting and I found myself having difficulty narrowing down only one or two passages worth quoting. But I'll quote a couple interesting points nonetheless.

Despite the disheartening fact that Legacy Media appears unwilling to cover adult stem cell successes or the clearly define the terms and issues at stake, Smith notes the strong opposition to human cloning that is still pervasive in this country and beyond:

...Much of the world is turning away from human cloning. The United Nations General Assembly voted by a nearly 3-1 margin to urge member nations to outlaw human cloning. While a few countries like Great Britain decided to be unilateralist on the issue, many nations have already outlawed human cloning, including France, Canada, Australia, and Norway. Indiana just became the seventh American state to ban cloning. If enough countries and states reject cloning and fund adult/umbilical-cord-blood-stem-cell research (along with the private sector), I believe sufficient treatments will be developed so that even the New York Times will be forced to report on the progress. At that point, public support for therapeutic-cloning research would likely collapse and the vast continuing public investment of tax dollars needed to further develop and perfect human-cloning technology would peter out. At least this is what I hope would happen, which is why so many people — conservatives and liberals, religiously oriented people and secularists, pro-life and pro-choice on abortion — are working diligently to continue to hold the line.

And as Smith makes clear, this is an area in which the President has the opportunity to do some important work:

...I would like to see the president personally calling attention to major adult-stem-cell successes as they occur, successes that are almost routinely ignored by major media. He could also tour adult-stem-cell-research facilities and bring patients who have been treated with adult/umbilical-cord-blood stem cells to the White House for events. This shouldn’t be an occasional mention, but an enthusiastic ongoing political effort engaged in with the president’s usual energy, verve, and gusto...

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Monday, May 23, 2005

FUTILE CARE THEORY & FORCED EXIT, POST-TERRI SCHIAVO. If you want to get a glimpse of where many so-called bioethcists wish to take end-of-life medical care, be sure to read Wesley J. Smith's eye-opening article "The English Patient"--available in the forthcoming Weekly Standard. Smith also posts about the case at his blog--Secondhand Smoke (here, here and here).

Human life is characterized by its inherent dignity and equality. But this is undermined when when futilitarians are empowered to determine whether another person's life is worth living based upon their own checklist of priorities. Any one of us could be one accident or mishap away from disability or need of serious medical care. If we hand over delicate life-or-death situations to futilitarian ideologues masquerading as "ethics committees," then NO ONE remains safe in their humanity.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)