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, June 25, 2005

LOONEY LEFT-A-THON: DURBIN & CONYERS. Hat tip to Jayne Doodles for the recent David Harsanyi column in the Denver Post. The columnist brings up some very good points and got me thinking...

Just WHY haven't the Republicans turned up the heat on the Democratic party for the behavior of its fringe elements? We recently witnessed Sen. Durbin's horrible comparison of our soldiers at Guantanomo Bay to Nazi's and Pol Pot, followed by his steadfast refusal to apologize, followed by his forced, pathetic semi- or non-apology. Also, next to no one has zeroed in on the laughable and embarrassing make-believe impeachment hearing conducted by a handful of House Democrats in the capitol building basement. Rep. John Conyers presided. (HT: Powerline, for Dana Milbank's piece in The Washington Post.) As to this latter story, I'm also surprised to have seen so little mention of it on the blogosphere.

These screwball antics need to be brought into the spotlight and remain there for a good while. The wacky views of Sen. Durbin have caused him seemingly little trouble from within his own ranks. Even if there is no censure vote--which would have been entirely justified--demands should have been made for Sen. Durbin to step down as Senate Minority Whip. But the Democrats have done no such thing.

Contrast this with the blogswarm over Sen. Trent Lott. Sen. Lott made some stupid remarks at Sen. Strom Thurmond's b-day party that were unbecoming of a Republican in leadership. And so countless Republicans called for Sen. Lott to step down. I certainly wanted Sen. Lott to resign his leadership post. No such thing taking place with the Senate Democrats. Could it be that too many members of Sen. Durbin's caucus share his crazy views? Sadly, I now suspect so.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Friday, June 24, 2005

LANDMARK LAND GRAB CASE: THOUGHTS ON KELO. Yesterday I read through the U.S. Supreme Court opinions in Kelo v. City of New London (2005). This is the 5-4 decision giving WIDE discretion to federal, state and local governments to seize persons private property for “public purposes.”

It should be noted by all that this case mostly sets the floor for constitutional protection of property. States and local governments have the ability to put in place more exacting standards for state and local governments to meet if they wish to confiscate privately-held property. As Washington State’s Attorney General Rob McKenna commented in a recent press release:

The Washington Supreme Court has defined the "public benefit" limitation more narrowly than the definition used by the U.S. Supreme Court in the recently announced Kelo decision. Accordingly, the condemnation of private property for the type of development at issue in the Kelo case would likely be evaluated as a matter of state constitutional law under standards that are potentially more protective of private property rights than those used by the U.S. Supreme Court today.

Make no mistake: this decision has eroded serious safeguards to prevent government to take people’s land for legitimate public use. I do not agree with the majority in this decision. The “public purpose” standard that the majority adopts is simply too open-ended. Thanks to this decision, the passage of generalized, comprehensive “economic development” projects by state or local governments now pass Constitutional muster under the Fifth Amendment (as applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment).

As Justice O’Connor noted in dissent, there is ALWAYS room for improvement of property. Nobody ever puts property to it’s highest and best use. Motel 6 can always be replaced by the Ritz-Carlton. Justice Thomas also penned a solo dissent, which delved more deeply into the history of the Takings Clause (the all-encompassing term for the Public Use and Just Compensation Clauses. As Justice Thomas put it, “Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.”

Justice Thomas also put the Takings Clause in its proper context. The clause is contained within the original articles comprising the Bill of Rights. Hence, it is a negative power grant. It is designed to PROHIBIT government action, rather than EMPOWER it. By contrast, the majority treats the Takings Clause more like and enforcement clause, such as the Necessary and Proper Clause.

In his opinion for the majority, Justice Stevens justified such takings because of the evolving needs of society. But isn’t there a Bill of Rights in place to provide timeless guarantees of rights that might otherwise be eroded by the passions of people and government over the passing of time?

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

FEDERAL PRE-EMPTION COMES TO NEW YORK STATE. The Federalism Project's AG Watch blog has a recent post discussing a recent lawsuit filed by the the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (USOCC) against NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. At issue are some banking laws and regulations. Under the National Banking Act and pursuant to Article VI, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the federal government has the full force of federal supremacy in this area. And the feds are making it clear in this instance, filing suit against AG Spitzer's office.

This is interesting. I periodically point to big articles discussion NY's well-known AG. The reason being is that he is not only a very visible public figure who wields much power, has been involved in many high-profile cases and has often been a vigorous prosecutor of his cases in the court of public opinion--but because many of the big cases he is involved with have nationwide ramifications.

I don't know the particulars of this lawsuit by the USOCC, having only skimmed the complaint. But, as the AG Watch folks have noted, the USOCC is onto something here. We have a federal constitution, a U.S. Congress, a federal judiciary and federal departments in the federal executive to deal with INTERstate matters. I think that is just as good of an idea when the Founding Fathers wrote and ratified the Constitution as it is today.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
COLSON DISCUSSING DEEP THROAT. Yesterday, Charles W. Colson had an interesting commentary ("Above the Law?: Further Thoughts About Deep Throat"), briefly analyzing the hero status of Deep Throat--and the larger issue of "ends justify the means" thinking. I have little to add here, save for the fact that Colson comes at all of this stuff from a unique vantage point.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

DURBIN DISGRACE SAGA CONTINUES. I listened to Senate Democratic Minority Whip Dick Durbin offer some sort of semi-apology for his earlier remarks, comparing our brave and honorable soldiers in Guantanamo Bay with Nazis, Gulag guards or Pol Pot's regime. But as Powerline notes, while Sen. Durbin did say he was sorry for causing hurt feelings and that his word choices were "very poor," he NEVER retracted his outrageous comparison that is the source of the controversy.

But does a forced semi-apology cut it when a leading U.S. Senator makes a Senate floor speech in which he hurls blatantly false and super-inflammatory charges at our nation's military? "Oops sorry" doesn't erase all the propaganda points he's given to terrorists who are bent on our destruction.

Hugh Hewitt has posted the transcript of an interview he conducted with a Second Lieutenant who is a Gitmo veteran. It is worth the read and causes me to once again appreciate the dedication and sacrifice of our fighting forces. They are defending our freedom--whatever else Sen. Durbin might say.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
HARSH WORDS FOR H.G. WELLS. John J. Miller discusses science-fiction writer H.G. Wells in "War of the Worldviews," in today's Opinion Journal. For the most part, the article discusses Wells' political and social views--which, according to Miller, appear to be based upon even greater fictions than Wells' own literary works of science-fiction.

The anecdote at the beginning about Wells' failing grade in astronomical physics and his get-back in a subsequent writing is both amusing and creepy. (It would probably be nothing other than funny if it weren't for more recent, high-profile episodes of actual violence at schools.)

At this point, I remember little about Wells' War of the Worlds. I read that book along with two others (The Invisible Man and Time Machine) back in my sophomore english class in high school. Anyway, reading his books gave me insight into his fanciful imagination--but it wasn't until much later that I ever learned he had such flighty ideas about the non-fiction world.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)
CLOSING THOUGHTS ON TERRI SCHIAVO. Wesley J. Smith is back from vacation and blogs about the life, death, autopsy and burial of Terri Schiavo.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, June 20, 2005

DURBIN SHOULD BE CENSURED. Read Hugh Hewitt's column, "Breaking the Durbin Code," in today's Daily Standard.

Here's Hewitt on the American electorate's reaction to #2 ranking Democratic Senator Durbin's inflammatory Senate floor remarks:

They are disgusted over this slander of the military, and they deserve a vote on whether Senator Durbin's argument deserves anything except complete and quick condemnation by responsible members of both parties intent on supporting the war, the military, and the country's defense.

Yes. Exactly right.

And here's Hewitt with an important point to consider:

Durbin's slander was simply a rhetorical bridge too far, but for both the man and his party there are no regrets and no apology. Not one senior Democrat has condemned Durbin's statement. Not one Democratic senator has asked for a caucus meeting.

This matter is not even close to being over. Hopefully, some Senate Republicans will have the moral courage to stand up against this kind of slander against our military. People often accuse powerful Senators of covering for each other. Here is an important chance for that accusation to be proven false.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

...AND NOW, MARK STEYN. His Chicago Sun-Times column about Sen. Durbin's outrageous comments on the Senate floor says it all. (HT: Powerline.)

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)