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, July 16, 2005

WORDS OF A LEADER. Austrialian Prime Minister John Howard answers a reporter's question:

MAXINE McKEW: Prime Minister, if as you say you can't rule out that possibility that we could have potential bombers right here in Australia, what if today's announcement, this redeployment to Afghanistan and our continued presence in Iraq is all the provocation they need?

JOHN HOWARD: Maxine, these people are opposed to what we believe in and what we stand for, far more than what we do. If you imagine that you can buy immunity from fanatics by curling yourself in a ball, apologising for the world - to the world - for who you are and what you stand for and what you believe in, not only is that morally bankrupt, but it's also ineffective. Because fanatics despise a lot of things and the things they despise most is weakness and timidity. There has been plenty of evidence through history that fanatics attack weakness and retreating people even more savagely than they do defiant people.


(Hat Tip: Hugh Hewitt, via Instapundit, via Art Vandalay, via Tim Blair.)

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Friday, July 15, 2005

A NIGHT AT THE BALLKPARK. Tonight I saw the Mariners lose to the Baltimore Orioles. The team is nowhere near contention, but they do have a solid right fielder in Ichiro, plus some solid guys at the corners--Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. Of course, Beltre hasn't put up the numbers I would like to see. Sexson blasted a clear and convincing homerun in tonight's game.

The evening's highlight was Rafael Palmeiro's 3000th career hit. Palmerio hit an RBI double, and time was called for his teammates to congratulate him at second. The Seattle crowd gave Palmeiro a warm standing ovation. It's not everyday that one sees a long-standing star reach a milestone like that. Palmeiro is now part of an exlcusive group of players who have hit 500 homers and collected 3,000 hits. Later in the game, Palmeiro came through with basehit 3001.

I am glad that I was able to see shortstop Mike Morse and the Aussie leftfielder Chris Snelling both play for the Mariners for the first time. Morse appears to have it together at the plate, after little more than 100 at-bats in the bigs. Snelling definitely has talent, putting up good numbers at Tacoma this year. Hopefully, he can stay healthy and make some good contributions.

Unfortunately, there just wasn't good enough hitting or good enough pitching. At least the D proved solid. But now that all these young guys are called up to the big team, just who is left at Tacoma? I had been planning on catching a game down there this season...

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
LOUD LEFTY BLOGS A LIABILITY FOR DEMOCRATS? Highly recommended reading for today is Dean Barnett's Daily Standard article, "The Electoral-Based Community: Why the rise of the left-wing blogosphere has been bad for the Democratic party." Barnett provides insight into the dynamics of the left-wing of the blogosphere and why it might likely not be as helpful to the Democratic Party as many of its leaders apparently think. Along the way, Barnett discusses the lefty bloggers support of Sen. Dick Durbin's comparison of our soldiers in Guantanamo to Nazis and Gulag guards--as well as the lefty bloggers anger when Sen. Durbin made his much-belated and forced semi-apology.

Also, Barnett points to a funny and clever post at Iowahawk that angered some on the left-wing of the blogosphere: "Stop Questioning My Patriotism"--by Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

SORTING HAT SAYS...



I'm a Ravenclaw!

I'll gladly stand by that verdict. And, thank goodness, I'm NOT Slytherin. HT: Hugh Hewitt.

(Downtown Seattle, WA.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

ASHCROFT THE BAD COP TO BUSH THE GOOD COP? Jonah Goldberg's NRO article "Identity Justice" provides a take on the dynamics of former Attorney General John Ashcroft's role in the Bush Administration that I had not heard before. Depending on how one interprets Goldberg, I'm not certain it is true, etiher. Says Goldberg:

Bush's previous — and very loyal — AG, John Ashcroft, was attacked constantly and repeatedly in profoundly personal terms. And Bush never rose to defend Ashcroft. Indeed, the White House brilliantly used Ashcroft in a good-cop bad-cop routine for the entire first term. If I may mangle a metaphor beyond all recognition, Ashcroft was a Medusa's head which Bush could pull out of his bag to petrify the opposition. Or more accurately, to make the opposition go batty in its hysterical Ashcroft phobia.


Ok, I admit the Medusa metaphor makes me laugh. It also causes me to recall the way certain lefty law students at my old school used to go bonkers at the mere mention of Ashcroft's name. (Cue the background ice cream truck music as "Ashcroft" is repeated over and over in a low, echoing voice. Insanity soon sets in.) "John Ashcroft is out of control!" I remember one student saying.

But seriously, would a POTUS deliberately choose to make one of his most important cabinent members a reviled punching bag for his most vehement critics? Especially a cabinent member who is entrusted with the vital role of enforcing laws that keep the nation safe from terrorist threats during a War on Terror? I think that an unlikely course to take--if not a reckless one. It might be more plausible with hindsight, as the war has continued and a second term has been conferred upon the Administration by the American people. But I doubt the Administration would have deliberately encouraged the head of the DOJ charged with an important role in all-important war to take massive PR hits. Why give ardent and vocal leftists--who would rather pull the plug on the prosecution of the war--enhanced opportunities to take down high Administration officals, as well as the Administration itself?

Or perhaps Goldberg meant something a little more benign. What if the Administration, recognizing that Ashcroft didn't have a bubbly and warm public persona with little potential for changing that fact, simply chose to go with Ashcroft the way he was and let him become the locus of criticism by simply doing nothing? This is more plausible to me, but I still have a difficult time accepting that--for the very same reasons I listed above. It makes little sense to let a key cabinent member like an AG sink while the rest of the Administration swims.

Perhaps in the years and decades to come--once the autobiographies, biographies and histories of the Administration are written--we'll have greater insight into this. For now, I'm of the view that Ashcroft simply had PR difficulties, all the while faced with an important job to do and a resentful, largely anti-war left to deal with. No easy task.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

GOODBYE TO BOONE. Former All-Star second baseman Brett Boone was traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Minnesota Twins. Reportedly, the deal is for cash and a player to be named later.

I wish Boone the best of luck. He was an exciting player to watch at second base and at the plate. Boone has struggled the past two seasons and put up numbers nowhere near what he had before, but I suspect a change of scenery could help him turn things around.

(Downtown Seattle, WA)

Monday, July 11, 2005

SUPREME COURT ROUNDUP #3.

1. John Leo endorses Judge Edith Jones for the Supreme Court. In his latest column, he favorably quotes her statement in a Richmond Law Review article that calls legal elitists into account. But rather than discuss Judge Jones at length, Leo spends far more time discussing problems with the reigning judicial philosophy of interest groups who have minimal regard for majority rule.

Leo goes on to say:

Electoral and legislative majorities are said to be arbitrary and meaningless; the collective wisdom of ordinary voters allegedly cannot compare to that of judges. Some years ago, law Profs. Robert Nagel and Jack Nagel wrote that “if all political majorities are just arbitrary, the outcomes of democratic political processes lose their legitimacy and everything becomes fair game for the (supposedly) wiser deliberations of judges. That seems to be a conclusion with broad appeal, at least among law professors."

I agree with Leo and with Profs. Nagel and Nagel. (Prof. Robert Nagel, by the way, penned an outstanding book: The Implosion of American Federalism.)

2. George Will supports Judge Harvey Wilkinson III. Like Leo, he spends the preponderance of his column discussing judicial philosophy. I highly recommend Will’s column, as it contains some very important points about legal reasoning and what it means to expound upon a constitution.

Accoding to Will:

Constitutional law is rife with clashing certitudes generated by too-clever theories purporting to illuminate the one valid approach to construing the Constitution. These theories obscure uncertainties inherent in all legal reasoning, and especially in construing a written Constitution in light of precedents produced by applying it in political contexts, and to controversies, unforeseen by its framers.

While positive law draws upon principles, logic and reason, it is something enacted, interpreted, and applied by human beings in cases and controversies involving other human beings in complex and unique factual circumstances.

Will expands upon the earlier point:

Dismay about abuses of judicial discretion drives some conservatives into a misguided quest for a jurisprudential holy grail -- a theory of constitutional reasoning that will virtually expunge discretion from judging. This goal is chimeric.

Construing the Constitution should begin with what the document's pertinent language meant to those who wrote and ratified it. But construing can rarely end there. Historians continue to deepen our understanding of how varied and occasionally contradictory were the intentions of various framers and ratifiers. History always informs constitutional deliberations; it rarely is dispositive.


This is why even originalist jurists such as Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia occasionally find themselves on different sides in cases before the Supreme Court. Even when the original understanding of a constitutional provision or a statute is clear, the application in a given case requires judgment. It requires discretion.

Will also does a service by implicitly showing the absurdity of the claim (popular with many on the left) that originalist jurisprudence somehow strands us in the 18th century. That claim is baloney. Will is a propoenent of originalism. And originalism respects the fact that we have a written constitution. Our Founders drafted and ratified that written document for a reason. They didn’t trust the security of our liberty and common good to the whimsical views of the mob or powerful elites.

3. Hugh Hewitt comes to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' defense. His post from the other day is consistent with views I expressed earlier. Labelling his remarks as "center-right heresy," Hewitt makes a clear and important point:

...it is really absurd to suggest that AG Gonzales is not qualified to sit on SCOTUS, or that his nomination would be a "betrayal" of past promises.


That is something with which this center-right heretic strongly agrees.

3. Ken Masugi calls for Judge Janice Rogers Brown to be the newest Supreme. See his post at The Remedy. I've already indicated my enthusiasm for Judge Brown.

(North Seattle—Green Lake, WA)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

IMPORANT PRIVATE PROPERTY COALITION EMERGES. “Property Rights Are Civil Rights” is Monday’s “John Fund on the Trial” column, at Opinion Journal. Fund summarizes much of the valid criticisms leveled at the decision handed down by the 5-member majority of the U.S. Supreme Court that recently declared that mere economic development constitutes a public purpose that satisfies the 5th Amendment’s Takings Clause. He then discusses the interesting political dynamics of the opposition to the Kelo decision. As Fund notes, the supporters of stronger private property protections transcend any racial boundaries.

In his strong dissent from the majority in Kelo, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that it could hardly be denied that the majority’s ruling would hurt discrete and insular minorities—referring to the infamous footnote four in U.S. v. Carolene Products (1938). (Simply google “footnote four” if you want to learn more the most famous footnote in constitutional jurisprudence.) Justice Thomas's view in this regard is supported by such wide-ranging groups as NAACP and Institute for Justice.

Says Fund, legislation has passed the House of Representatives to prevent the use of federal funds for the exercise of eminent domain power for mere economic development. There was a compainion resolution expressing profound disagreement with the majority ruling in Kelo that passed by an even wider margin.

While my own cursory search of the Library of Congress site has not turned up a roll call vote on the former legislation, the roll call vote I've found for the latter resolution is interesting. Congressman Dave Reichert is to be congratulated by his important vote IN FAVOR of the resolution and for greater protection private property rights. However, Congressmen Norm Dicks, Jim McDermott and Jay Inslee all voted AGAINST the resolution and for such protections for private property rights.

A new political coalition for greater private property protections is emerging. Congressman Reichert is on board. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris is on board. Their votes send an important message and their actions will help protect private property in this country. So where are Congressmen Dicks, McDermott and Inslee?

Also, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas introduced a bill titled the “Protection of Homes, Small Businesses, and Private Property Act of 2005." The bill reaffirms that the power of eminent domain shall only be exercised pursuant to a “public use”—and that “public use” does NOT include mere “economic development.” The bill, if enacted, would apply to the Federal Government and to State and local governments when exercising eminent domain power through the use of Federal funding.

I strongly support such legislation, and applaud the members of Congress--including Congressman Reichert--who have stepped up to the plate in upholding the Constitution and protecting private property.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)
REALITY CHECK ON ESC RESEARCH. "Stem Cell Tales of Hope and Hype" is the title of an excellent guest column that I recently came across at Townhall.com. The author is Minnesotan Jean Swenson, whom I have had the honor of meeting on a couple of occasions. Jean has worked both as a teacher and as a journalist, and is very adept and able when it comes to focusing upon the main issues in complex matters. I recommend her column to readers.

(North Seattle--Green Lake, WA)