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Friday, October 28, 2005

MIND AT LARGE: Two leading science organizations have told Kansas the state can't use key science education materials developed by the two groups. Reason: Kansas science curricula gives too much room to uncertainties about the theory of evolution and fails to make clear that science has no room for "supernatural phenomena," or forces external to nature. Now it's true, of course, that many claims for supernatural phenomena vanish on close inspection. But it may also be true that there are forces of nature not yet understood or recognized by materialist science, the most fundamental such force being: mind. Materialist science has ducked the issue of consciousness by simply asserting that mind is an "epiphenomenon" or side effect of random physical forces. How exactly does mind manifest from matter? Here materialism falls silent because it can't coherently explain how mind could emerge from mindless matter. Materialism asks us to accept not simply that mind is wholly natural, but that it is also wholly physical and objective. This leaves the undeniable subjectivity of consciousness entirely unaccounted for. Now, many people — in Kansas but not only there — find this silence unacceptable. And many are drawn to the idea of supernatural intervention. How else to explain just where conscioiusness enters the picture. But there's an alternative to both supernaturalism (mind comes from "outside" the system) and materialism (mind just somehow "emerges"). Consider the possibility that consciousness has always been there, no matter how far back you care to look. Suppose that all matter possesses some form of mind. Imagine that what could be called "intrinsic inner intent" is as fundamental to the fabric of existence as gravity and time-space. If this is true, it would help to have some empirical evidence demonstrating how mind, or consciousness, or intrinsic inner intent, is not necessarily dependent on matter, or actual physical bodies. Here's the obvious question. Extrasensory perception: Is it real? An organization called the Institute of Noetic Sciences is a research organization committed to exploring this question scientifically. They're currently doing studies to find out whether Person A can influence the physiology of Person B, simply through the act of staring. Far-out stuff. They say their preliminary findings suggest that "even subtle shifts in intention and attention have measurable, nonlocal properties." But even without scientific ventures of this kind, there's no doubt that human beings are possessed of the capacity to direct our intentions so as to make choices for which we are responsible. And this, more than any other factor, seems to me to be what most divides the contemporary left ("I'm a victim of society, I'm defined by race and gender and history, I'm not responsible, who should I sue first?") from the majority of Americans at this point in our history.
BEYOND GENDER: Bush should ‘‘nominate a strict constructionist – man, woman or minority,” says Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. I personally have had my fill of men and women on the court. More minorities!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

THE SAFER BET: Given the possibility of White House indictments, Bush may prefer a Supreme Court nominee who rallies the base without unduly whipping up the frenzy of Senate Democrats. In that case, no potential nominee shines brighter than former Scalia clerk Michael Luttig. He's got the capacity to wow the nation in much the same way John Roberts did.
BUSH'S BEST BET: It seems to me the president's strongest suit for the Supreme Court vacancy is to nominate one of the appellate justices confirmed by a majority of the current term of the United States Senate. If these judges were qualified to make it to the appellate bench, how can they not be suited to the Supreme Court? True, many of the senators who opposed them the first time will oppose them again. Janice Rogers Brown — who served on California's highest court — was confirmed by a vote of 56-43. (One Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, joined the Senate's 55 Republicans in voting to confirm Brown. The other 43 Democrats voted against her. Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) didn't vote.) How many Democrats — the party that claims to speak for civil rights and women's rights — would dare oppose Janice Rogers Brown? All 43? If so, Brown gets confirmed handily. Conservatives who rightly take exception to Bush's domestic spending spree must in all honesty acknowledge that the Miers nomination was the single exception to Bush's remarkable record of nominating judges who are faithful to the Constitution. Janice Rogers Brown would be a powerful nominee who would mobilize conservatives eager to support the president they reluctantly opposed over Miers. Priscilla R. Owen of Texas would likewise be a strong choice. I'm not wild about changing Senate rules via the so-called Constitutional Option. But I'm even less wild about game playing that keeps deserving candidates from getting an up or down vote. If the Democrats filibuster, the GOP majority should do what's required to break the logjam. This time, the so-called Gang of 14 must be held to account. They must be given to understand (Lindsay Graham, are you listening?) that their play period is over.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

SILLY SEASON: As another day passes with no White House indictments, enemies of President Bush are going all out. Andrew Sullivan, widely criticized by conservatives for endorsing Kerry last year, declares: Because "the president is reeling," Bush should "fire" Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Andrew Card; withdraw the Miers nomination, and shake up the whole cabinet. These steps need to be taken regardless of whether any White House officials are indicted, Sullivan says. This will show the world that Bush "gets it." No, Andrew. What it would show the world is that Bush has decided to give up governing. I haved a more straightforward suggestion. If Cheney leaves office, Bush should nominate John Kerry to serve as vice president. Then Bush could just resign, and Andrew Sullivan could get the president he originally wanted. Added bonus: the United States would get not just a new Iraq policy, but all of the Iraq policies Kerry articulated during the presidential campaign. We'd get Teresa, too. Oh, joy.
HOW THE LEFT CELEBRATES DIVERSITY: Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate yesterday. Steele is male, black, and conservative. As Clarence Thomas discovered, this combination is not acceptable to self-appointed arbiters of diversity, tolerance, inclusion on the left. This kind of vile racist propaganda was the stock in trade of the Jim Crow culture of the South. Now it's increasingly the cultural left's response to blacks who say no to the culture of learned helplessness dictated by today's civil rights establishment. The Klan was comprised of people who lynched black people on Saturday night and sang in the church choir on Sunday morning. The Klan depended on blacks staying scared, silent, and "in their place." Their spiritual successors are the left-wing racists who revile independent-thinking black Americans. Today's civil rights establishment has lost any claim to the legacy of Rosa Parks. That legacy now belongs to Michael Steele, Ward Connerly, Star Parker, La Shawn Barber, Shelby Steele and other free-thinking black Americans for whom today's pretentious civil rights mainstream is worthy of the same contempt as yesterday's cross burners.

Monday, October 24, 2005

DEFINING DISHONESTY DOWNWARD: You and I have something in common. Neither of us knows what if anything Patrick Fitzgerald will decide to do about Rove and Libby. Speculation is cheap. What I find more interesting is the preemptive spinning from many conservatives, to the effect that perjury may not be terribly important if the lying concerned non-criminal events. Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison steps out front with this:
Hutchison hopes that if there is an indictment, "it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on the crime and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."
Reminds me of what Democrats were saying about Bill Clinton: Perjury doesn't count when it's about sex. Conservatives refused to buy that self-serving logic then, and they should do they same now. Let me reiterate: It's not at all clear what the prosecutor will or won't do. If and when he decides to hand up indictments, there will be plenty of time to compare the administrations of Clinton and Bush 2. For now, simply on principle, the Hutchison line of preemptive defense should be offensive to anyone and everyone who took Bill Clinton and his supporters to task for excusing lying under oath.