Kurt Gödel and how the US could become a dictatorship

Kurt Gödel is widely recognized as being one of the premier mathematical logicians of all time whose incompleteness theorems revealed a stunning limitation on the limits of the axiomatic approach. “His findings put an end to logicist efforts such as those of Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead and demonstrated the severe limitations of David Hilbert’s formalist program for arithmetic.” He was also notoriously eccentric. After suffering from severe digestive disorders due to an ulcer, later in life he became convinced that he was being poisoned and his wife acted as his food taster. But his digestive problems and his refusal to eat led to him finally dying of starvation in 1978 at the age of 71.
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Why making accommodations for discrimination is problematic

Some of you may recall the case of Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland, Washington, who refused to accept a gay couple’s order to make floral arrangements at their wedding because of her religious objections to same-sex marriages. She said that she felt that if she were to accept the order, that would be tantamount to her endorsing such marriages.
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Winning elections at the local and state levels

Amy Howe explains the significance of an opinion handed down on Wednesday by the US Supreme Court concerning the way that electoral districts were drawn in Virginia.

This morning the Supreme Court handed a partial victory to a group of Virginia voters who argued that the 12 state legislative districts in which they live were the result of racial gerrymandering. The justices agreed with the challengers that a lower court had applied the wrong legal standard when it upheld all 12 districts, and the court ordered the lower court to take another look at 11 of those districts. This means that the battle over the redistricting maps that were drawn for Virginia’s state elections after the 2010 census will continue on well into this year, even as the state prepares to hold new elections in November.
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Is this planned chaos or just incompetence?

One passage jumped out at me from the unanimous opinion of the Ninth Circuit panel refusing to overturn the US District Judge James Robart’s temporary restraining order on Donald Trump’s Executive Order on immigration.

The Government has argued that, even if lawful permanent residents have due process rights, the States’ challenge to section 3(c) based on its application to lawful permanent residents is moot because several days after the Executive Order was issued, White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II issued “[a]uthoritative [g]uidance” stating that sections 3(c) and 3(e) of the Executive Order do not apply to lawful permanent residents. At this point, however, we cannot rely upon the Government’s contention that the Executive Order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents. The Government has offered no authority establishing that the White House counsel is empowered to issue an amended order superseding the Executive Order signed by the President and now challenged by the States, and that proposition seems unlikely.
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The appeal hearings on Trump’s orders

I listened yesterday to the oral arguments before a panel of the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeal on whether the stay on Trump’s Executive Orders on people entering the US that was imposed by the US District Judge in the state of Washington should be lifted. (You can listen to the oral arguments here.) It is always hard to predict outcomes based on the kinds of questions that the judges ask. The questions posed to August E. Flentje, the attorney speaking on behalf of Trump’s orders, were more sharp and skeptical and the attorney seemed less prepared. At the end he even conceded that he did not seem to be persuading the justices. He admitted that the rollout of the orders had been confusing, with legal permanent residents first being included in the ban and then excluded and suggested that an acceptable outcome might be for the judges to rule that the ban only applies to people who have never been in the US before. One justice pointed out that it should not be their job to clarify what the administration’s intentions are about who is covered and that the administration could issue new orders that were clearer.
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Watch oral arguments of Trump’s appeal of immigration ruling

Those of you who are interested in the legal and constitutional issues surrounding the Executive Orders on immigration, refugees, and banning visitors from seven nations can listen live to oral arguments before the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco as attorneys for the White House try to get the their bans reinstated. The hearings are scheduled to begin at 6:00pm ET (3:00pm PT) and should last about an hour or 90 minutes.

This should be an interesting case

During the campaign we had numerous women alleging that Donald Trump assaulted them in many ways, charges that the Trump campaign furiously denied and for which many of the accusers were harassed by Trump supporters. But now one woman Summer Zeervos has said through her attorney Gloria Allred that she has filed a lawsuit against Trump for defamation because of the charges he made against her while denying her accusations.
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When hysteria leads to injustice

The US periodically goes through phases of hysteria over this or that phenomenon and the public very often falls prey to the temptation to rush to judgment to combat what is falsely perceived as an epidemic of a particular type of crime. We saw this with the large number of pedophilia charges made against day care providers a couple of decades ago and the possible associated Satanic practices.
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The president cannot declare torture to be lawful

Among the many awful things that the Bush-Cheney administration did was to normalize torture, coming up with various convoluted rationales as to why the ghastly practices they carried out did not constitute torture and thus were not war crimes. Alex Emmons writes about an important unanimous ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday that has been largely overshadowed, like so much else, by this weird election season.
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