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Semiformalishmaybe

CEAC 28 June 2012

Usual CEAC stuff:

  • The contempt charge against Holder has gone about as far as it can go productively for Issa's political ends; it has given red meat to the conservatives who think of politics as a zero-sum game up until now, and was handy for Issa towards that end because the content that Holder and the Justice Department were protecting were related to ongoing cases and were things they couldn't release if they wanted to. Unfortunately Issa now resembles a dog who managed to catch a squirrel and doesn't know what to do with it; the next steps in contempt will just make the conservatives who have been pushing this issue look like they haven't thought things through. If this issue had been saved until right before the election it may have been a potent weapon; soon it will just be another broken wave.
  • The Supreme Court narrowly upheld the ACA en toto, to my moderate surprise. I expected them to uphold most but remove the mandate portions. This is a relief, but we should remember that the ACA is not good enough. There's a long way to go until we have an appropriate healthcare system (a major component of which must be single payer). The ACA is a stopgap, not a solution. On that topic, Justice Roberts aimed to erode the currently-broadly-interpreted commerce clause. I concede that the commerce clause is being abused to justify basically everything the US Government has done for almost a century. However, I consider this abuse to be on par with the illegal rebellion against the crown that created our government; it may be strange precedent, but it is precedent that is the bedrock of our government now. It doesn't need to be correct, or clean, or pretty. If we found that due to some legal vagary in the past that in theory one US state should not have been admitted into the union a hundred years ago, that's interesting but so what? De Facto eventually becomes De Jure in common law systems (and other systems as well, probably). Oh, and OccupyLA is arguing against this stopgap measure because it is not perfect. Appropriate response to OccupyLA? This.
  • A German court in Köln recently interpreted infant male circumcision as assault. This, predictably, offended Muslim and Jewish groups, but is probably seen as legal bookkeeping by most Germans, tossing off traditional-but-reprehensible practices done to children that have little choice in the matter. I have very little opinion on the matter; perhaps my readers have their own thoughts? (I was circumcised twice, and there was some unpleasantness involved I won't go into; I have a mild preference not to circumcise any male children I might ever have, but would be easily convincable otherwise by whomever my parter would be; I don't care to take a stance on what individuals or states choose on the matter)
  • The Salvation Army has been pretty frank about what they think about gay people. Might be worth remembering that when you see them ringing those goddamned bells and being irritating.
  • Looks like the reform to the House of Lords is getting or-else treatment by the Tories. I imagine this is the result of some very hard negotiations behind closed doors between Clegg and Cameron (possibly payback for the recent educational reform cock-up?)
  • Dawkins and EO Wilson recently had a bit of a row in public over evolutionary theory. On this matter, my position (which you should take with a lot of salt, as I am just a guy with nonspecialised knowledge on the topic) is closest to EO Wilson; multi-level selection is a solid idea with logistics we can easily work out; imagining two tribes, we can imagine usually each tribe would have tighter genetics within it than there would be outside, and beyond the level of the gene, the mechanisms of tribe mentality creates layers of identity independent from genetics anyhow; if those two tribes were in conflict, individual sacrifice for the victory of the tribe serves both genetics and tribal identity. Kin-selection is too simple a theory to fully account for the logistics. In my opinion, Dawkins is wrong on the matter.
  • British politics continues to evolve to deal with the problem of overly-open immigration policy, with the Labour party's Milliband leadership opening the door within the formerly most-resistant party on the topic to such discussion. I see this as healthy; I believe states have the right to regulate or even prohibit immigration, and the policy should be decided by some mix of economics, charity, and the interests of both citizens (stronger) and broad humanity (weaker). Open doors are not desirable, and the particular structure of how Europe has permitted immigration has been very harmful.
  • Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury) has long been a complicated figure, particularly to American eyes; he represents a tradition of thought that's been very marginal in American politics for awhile; liberal, directly-concerned-with-human-welfare Christianity. He's not completely anti-traditional, his liberality (american-term liberalism, anyhow) takes the form of being concerned about the damaging effects of capitalism on society and community. His recent comments on Cameron's Big Society slogan (a Conservative "Big Idea" that Britons all probably have strong opinions on) is telling.
  • On twitter I made a passing reference to this political article by Albert Einstein; I didn't provide a link at the time. Now I do. FWIW, I am not convinced that central planning of markets (using means I am aware of, anyhow) is an effective way to run an economy, and I prefer to explore some kind of market socialist theory, with pluralism as much a part of the politics as the markets; both should be structured with socialist values and safeguards in mind, but we should also expect competition of particulars, policies, institutions, and people for productive forces, so alternate approaches can be explored efficiently and so prices can be (semi) naturally set in ways responsive to changes in opportunity and availability of resources.
  • The slaughter in Syria continues, with high-profile defections from Assad's regime, increased violence, and Syria's continued provocation of Turkey bringing the Turkish army up to the Syrian border.

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