Today's Blogs

A Judicious Enigma?

Bloggers react to President Bush’s Supreme Court nomination. They also discuss Canadian lesbian Irshad Manji’s critique of Islam and debate the merits of a Princeton study that shows that minds might be able to influence machines.

A judicious enigma?: President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee: Judge John G. Roberts Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Because Roberts has been a federal judge for only two years, liberals and conservatives alike are scrambling to figure out where he stands. AMERICABlog’s liberal John Aravosis posts PDFs of a financial disclosure form and a questionnaire that Roberts filled out when he was confirmed by the Senate for the appeals court. He also presents a press release detailing Roberts’ record on abortion from the pro-choice group NARAL, which strongly opposes the nomination. Liberal General Glut’s Globblog speculates that Roberts may end up taking a moderate position on abortion. The blog points out that when the judge was confirmed for the D.C. Circuit he said, “Roe v. Wade is the settled law of the land. … There’s nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent.” Some conservatives think that Bush should have pushed for someone whose positions would have been more predictably hard-line. Commenting on right-leaning Roger L. Simon’s blog, Ed writes, “Conservatives have been working for 25+ years, and donated untold billions of dollars to the GOP, to achieve this? What the hell is the point of a Senate majority then? Screw it. I’ve left the Republican party, they can go to hell for all I care.”

Others are gearing up for the confirmation. Captain’s Quarters’ Captain Ed, a staunch conservative, prognosticates “a highly contentious public battle over his confirmation.” He thinks that Democrats will use Roberts’ decision in the Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld case to “rhetorically tie Roberts to alleged abuses at Guantanamo Bay and the abuses at Abu Ghraib,” and “spend their time railing against the war and its conduct.” Liberal political-science grad student Brendan Nyhan thinks it’s a lost cause: “I can’t understand why liberals are acting like they will be able to block President Bush’s Supreme Court nominee. No matter who Bush picks, he or she is likely to be confirmed.” He argues that Republicans will exaggerate the battle’s importance so that they can “declare a great victory when President Bush triumphs in the end—a boost they need given how badly he has been pounded over the last few months.”

Outside the Beltway’s James Joyner has a round-up of reactions; read more bloggers on Roberts; readSlate’s Emily Bazelon on the nomination; listen to Roberts arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court.

Osama’s worst nightmare?: Bloggers are gushing over thisSunday Times piece about Canadian Muslim Irshad Manji, the author of The Trouble With Islam. The article describes Manji as a “lipstick lesbian” who wants Islam to go back “to its clever, fun-loving roots.” She has been highly critical of Muslim leaders’ response to the 7/7 attacks on London and has been called “Osama’s worst nightmare.”

“I never thought I would hear the words ‘fun-loving’ and ‘Islam’ in the same sentence. It’s an intriguing article, and she makes some great points, particularly about the imperialistic nature of early Islam and Arabia,” writesFloridaBlues’ progressive Gatorchick. In an extensive and admiring post, independent film-maker MovieBob points out that “Manji is no self-hater or apostate: Instead, the theme of much of her work is that Islam has lost its way from being what was once a progressive faith that once championed science and helped spur the Western Renaissance.”

Conservatives love Manji, too. Ace of Spades HQ agrees with her critique and asks, “Lipstick lesbians. Is there anything they can’t do?” But at least one blogger scoffs at Manji’s power. Commenting on Ashish’s Niti, the blog of a Silicon Valley software engineer, Gaurav writes, “I disagree that Irshad can reform Islam. … [The] source for reform must come from with in Mainstream. I am afraid, the lady is at most the moderate-on-the-fringe voice.”

Read more about Irshad Manji.

Mind over machines: Wired reports on the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program, which has studied whether people can control machines with their minds for 26 years. The group has found “small but ‘statistically significant’ signs that minds may be able to interact with machines.”

Rationalists are unimpressed. Apesnake, a Canadian “pseudo-libertarian,” pooh-poohs the study for several reasons, including its fluffy invocation of quantum mechanics and because it can’t be reproduced. But some people are excited. The magician who operates PeaceLove’s Musings predicts an upcoming “revolution in how we perceive the interaction of consciousness and the ‘material world.’ ” And commenting on Clea’s Cave, the blog of a bookseller, Took asks, “Okay—So does this also mean I AM influencing the dice by singing the various pertinent songs to them when Evelyn and I play Yahtzee? I SWEAR TO GOD IT DOES!!!”

Read more about the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research program.

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