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judgeposer last won the day on July 23 2013

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  1. I've been lurking, waiting for a topic about which to comment; here one is...  And for whatever opinions are worth, here's mine...   Although many were shocked by the outcome of the trial, a full acquittal was the inevitable outcome, I believe, for a few reasons.  First, the prosecution overcharged Zimmerman.  In FL, second degree murder requires that the defendant act with "depraved mind, hatred, malice, evil intent or ill will."  This is say, different from first degree murder in that state (and most others), which requires a(n) premeditated intent to kill.  Perhaps, as a matter of public concern this charge seemed wise or applicable, but as a matter of legal tactics, it was the first consideration that doomed the prosecution.    Also, I don't think leading with a charge for manslaughter would've resulted in a different outcome, legally speaking.  Although a jury might've "halved-the-baby," so to speak, if given an option for a lesser charge, Zimmerman would've still plead self-defense.  I think this would've still spoiled a chance for a guilty verdict because (and as the jury was instructed) a Floridian can resort to deadly self defense if they fear death or "great bodily harm."    Here, we have a matter in which a prosecutor, who is after all an elected official, must charge the offender, given the perverse nature of the facts of the case, but where most or all possible charges actually fall short of describing the defendant's behavior to the legal standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."  Put another way, although there might've been probable cause to indict Zimmerman, which is the legal and ethical obligation for a prosecutor to bring charges against a defendant (i.e., there's probable cause to believe that the defendant committed said against against said victim), given the evidence and the defendant's self-defense defense, the same prosecutor is unlikely to be able to meet the legal standard of proof of guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" at trial.  Remember, the FL prosecutors in this case also had the burden of disproving Zimmerman's self-defense defense by the same standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt."  In other words, the prosecutors in this case had the dual burden of proving that no reasonable doubt exists on the matter that Zimmerman killed Martin with "depraved mind, hatred, malice, evil intent or ill will," and that no reasonable doubt exists that Zimmerman did not fear death or "great bodily harm" from Martin.   As a legal matter, it hardly matters who was the initial aggressor because the dynamics of an altercation can change and the right to self-defense remains absolute, regardless of whether a defendant was an initial aggressor.   Last, regarding "stand your ground" laws...  All these sorts of laws really say is that someone who believes that he has a reason to defend himself does not have to retreat from the altercation before doing so.  Here, in NY, someone who choses to defend himself must first attempt to retreat; NY has a "retreat requirement."  So-called "stand your ground laws" only dispense with the retreat requirement.  Again, the label of "initial aggressor" doesn't matter really.    
  2. [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-11.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-2.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-6-1024x682.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-5-1024x768.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-15.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-10-1024x692.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-7-1024x768.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-16.jpg[/img] [img]http://publicintelligence.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/occupy-the-bqe-17.jpg[/img]
  3. It appears that the group (small "g"), [url="https://occupywallst.org/"]Occupy Wall St.[/url], has issued a statement: [url="http://nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city/"]Declaration of the Occupation of New York City[/url]. To the extent any protesters' message becomes about police, I think they will lose focus. I find it interesting that some among them and the MSM seem to focus on the group's interaction with police, which is rather purposeless and disloyal to the group's larger "goal." Putting negative contact between the two groups aside, I cannot help but think any focus on police vs. protesters creates a red herring designed to pit the two against each other when really they have similar concerns, even if say police would never resort to similar methods of demonstration for themselves. I also believe that most if not all of the negative interaction we've witnessed take place between police and protesters stems from the police's lack of manpower and specific experience. By way of budget cuts achieved through lower hiring rates and attrition, the NYPD's 2000 high of 40,864 uniformed officers has dropped to 32,817. In years with a larger uniformed force, the Department had the resources to devote to crowd control and demonstrations, which is referred to as task force(s). Now, those task forces have most minimal manpower devoted to them, leaving the Department to use uniformed police not specifically trained to deal with the situations we've witnessed recently. Compounding that, the Department has chosen (or needed?) to devote large amounts of manpower to counter-terrorism or intelligence. The latest is the arrest of protesters who walked onto the Brooklyn Bridge roadway [[url="http://youtu.be/BYfti1PeDmA"]Video 1[/url], [url="http://youtu.be/KUkbXRBNGLo"]Video 2[/url]]. As a daily commuter across that bridge...I don't have any sympathy for those arrested, no matter their story.
  4. With respect to the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion," government action is deemed [i]unconstitutional[/i] if it any of the following three prongs of the [i]Lemon Test[/i] (per [i]Lemon v. Kurtzman[/i], 403 U.S. 602 (1971)) is violated:[list=1] [*]The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose; [*]The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; [*]The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion. [/list] Any legal analysis even charitable to the town's "Restore Our Community" initiative would find that the initiative violates each prong of this test. The Constitution isn't applied simply through adapting facts of a case to Constitutional provisions; rather, Courts employ "tests" to determine whether and to what extent Government action runs afoul of the Constitution. The Lemon test is the currently used test that determines whether government action violates the Establishment Clause. [quote name='Stuie' timestamp='1317323996' post='525631'] Yall are getting mad at an alternative choice... let's flip it another way. I get a Speeding ticket for 95 in a 70. Original Punishment: $500 Fine New law allows me to volunteer 50 hours in a trauma ward instead of the fine and totally screwing with my insurance. I am a wuss and would pick Fine every time. I am not being forced to, I am given an alternative option. [/quote] The "problem" is not simply not being receptive to alternative punishments, it's that in this case, the alternative forces a choice between incarceration and conscripted religious practice. [quote name='Fusion ' timestamp='1317350692' post='525750'] Non-violent offenders who are most likely being jailed for things like drinking and drugs could probably see a lot more benefit and "rehabilitation" from having to attend service with a religious community ever week for a year, rather than a 30 day program or a stay in county jail that costs the city and state a lot of money paid by taxpayers. Either way the savings is clear as far as taxpayers dollars are concerned. I'm not quite seeing the downside. Even in the case of separation of church and state, this alternative punishment is optional, not mandatory. [/quote] The downside is the suggestion that rehabilitation can only be had at the hand of religious influence, which we know not to be the case. [quote name='Tyler' timestamp='1317359293' post='525772'] My issue with it is that there are nothing but Baptist churches in the town, one methodist church, and one lutherin...the rest are baptist. What if a Muslim wanted to go to a mosque, or a jew to synagogue? What about atheists? If they're going to be subjected to religious thought then let them choose which kind. Personally I think we treat prisoners too well, sure rehabilitation is good and all, but they fucked up and broke the law in the country they chose to live in. Deal with the punishment. We need to stop taking it so easy on the small cases because if the punishment for doing something petty is church, then whats the mental block going to be to going to the next level? [/quote] Although I don't come down on punishment as hard, I think you make a great practical point about diversity of belief, or the lack thereof most probably in this community and through this specific program.
  5. [quote name='Rani' timestamp='1317338706' post='525689'] What I find very interesting is there's almost NO media coverage of the movement. I had to dig a little to find out about it. If that isn't confirmation that way too much of our society and government is owned by Wall Street, I don't know what is. 'Rani [/quote] Coincidentally, I read this blog post today, which is from a group of disaffected former editors at the New York Observer: [url="http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/09/3533389/occupy-wall-street-media-blackout-myth-plenty-stories-none-them-big"]The 'Occupy Wall Street' media blackout myth: Plenty of stories, none of them big[/url]. [color=#000000]It details the coverage the movement has garnered, though an honest assessment would find surface coverage of the movement's goals and "demands." But as most of those stories point out, the movement itself has been rather unfocused in that respect. So, to me it seems simply that the press will not make the movement's best argument itself, which I understand. I can't find any attempt to obscure or otherwise hide what has transpired so far. The New York press is abuzz about the police's use of pepper spray on a group of protesters, for one example. [/color] [quote name='Fusion ' timestamp='1317350037' post='525748'] I was extremely dismissive of this at first, but after what happened few days ago, this seems like something that could really become a serious movement. It's staggering to see senseless police brutality in the style of Syria and other revolting third world countries going on in the streets of New York City. Here's a great piece Lawrence O'Donnell did a few nights ago about the violence earlier this week, but be warned as some parts may be disturbing. [url="http://youtu.be/v5zmzV5IxpQ"]http://youtu.be/v5zmzV5IxpQ[/url] [/quote] Of course we will all have our impressions about how police should handle incidents like this, and without judging the particular pepper spraying incident in the O'Donnell clip, I want to share the following. Police misconduct has a scale from simple imprudence to criminality, with, I think, brutality, nearing the criminal-end of that scale. Here, while possibly objectionable, and admittedly without any explanation from the officers involved or the Department, we do not have brutality. Perhaps semantics, perhaps not, but New York has experienced instances of police behave with true wanton disregard, e.g., Abner Louima.
  6. At least legally speaking, I believe it might be too early to render an opinion given the facts we have. New York's Marriage Equality Act bars denying an application for marriage license to any couple seeking to wed, which obviously includes same-sex couples. That does not seem to be the case with Belforti, the Ledyard, NY town clerk who has refused to grant applications herself to same-sex couples. Belforti has instead designated her deputy to do so because she, Belforti, objects to doing so on moral, sincerely held religious grounds. The couple in this case appeared at the clerk's office at a date/time when Belforti's deputy was not there, leaving Belforti to refuse herself, but directing the couple to come back later. Although refusing herself to do it, Belforti did not issue an outright refusal to the couple. Compounding the issue is New York human rights law, which, by the way, predates the Marriage Equality Act. That body of law, among other things, protects an employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless those beliefs create an undue hardship on the employer. Moreover, state law also allows a municipality to delegate duties regarding marriage licenses to deputies or other employees, which was done in this case. Again, Belforti assigned the duty to grant applications to same-sex couples to someone else who has competent authority under the law. NYT: [url="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/nyregion/rights-clash-as-town-clerk-rejects-her-role-in-gay-marriages.html?_r=1"]Rights Collide as Town Clerk Sidesteps Role in Gay Marriages[/url]
  7. [quote name='Rani' timestamp='1316641081' post='524747'] I wouldn't even say scapegoats. Remember almost all Presidents come from Congress. Usually the Senate if memory serves me correctly. Congress is the evil in this scenario, they always have been. I mean really, the President is one man. One. Up against at last count 535 Congressional electorate. How much do you think anyone can get done with those odds? Now add in the power of the lobbyists. Yeah, any president is going to be effective with those odds, aren't they? If any President seems to accomplish a lot, it's only because they let him. Bush always had that "deer in the headlights" look for a reason. 'Rani [/quote] I think you're about right regarding presidents' prior elected office - although, as I recall, more among them were governors immediately before being elected president. That changes, however, if we combine immediately prior service in the House or the Senate, in which case immediately prior congressional service tops the list. That struck me as odd because the most commonly held prior elected office by most presidents was not executive level service. I take this to mean that we have more frequently elected to the presidency men who did not have immediate prior experience in a job that most mirrors the Presidency. Perhaps that doesn't mean much (yet) because I haven't corresponded anyone's particular "approval rating" or other benchmarks of a successful presidency to whether they were an immediately prior governor. Still a curious fact, I think, and perhaps one that has potential explanatory power. Another possible consideration is that despite not having immediately prior executive experience, those presidents elected from Congress may have a better sense of the demands they will face in office, negotiating and pushing initiatives through Congress. Presumably so would a Governor though, in the case of their state's legislature. So...who knows what and to what extent any of that is relevant or otherwise significant. On the point of presidential success in dealing with Congress - I suppose that has more to do with whether the electorate chooses to elect different parties, i.e., like now, when we have a Senate such as it is (57 D to 41 R, 2 I), a House, such as it is (257 R to 178 D), and a Democrat president. On the point of lobbyists, I must be the only one who believes that their power is greatly overstated. I think you can assess the issue in two main ways. First, that lobbyists exert power and influence through, well, lobbying. Their spending money through "donations," and other excesses serves to buy votes. Second, that lobbyists simply ensure votes. I mean by this that they lobby to the already convinced. The NRA never seems the change the mind of someone who came to Congress on an anti-gun or gun regulation platform. Simply, they seem to double-down on those lawmakers already leaning to their benefit. I suppose though, to be honest, there are lobby outfits that court both sides (e.g., the banking and insurance lobby), but as we see in this current Congress, which happens to be entrenched, how has this been effective? - I don't think it has. Also, as in any vote there are those lawmakers who sit in the middle, but with respect to issues that have deep partisan affiliations, I don't think we can say affirmatively that those few lawmakers cast deciding votes, especially not in today's House where the difference in party numbers is more than a few minds. Just some thoughts...
  8. At the time I was heading to my office from lunch, all of which were within blocks of Ground Zero, in lower Manhattan. It doesn't take much to set the City into alarm-mode, let along that part of the City. Once everyone started getting texts or otherwise heard news that it was an earthquake, everyone settled-down. But, no, I didn't feel it.
  9. [quote name='FunkyBuddha' timestamp='1313786462' post='520516'] [url="http://news.yahoo.com/3-men-convicted-1993-cub-scout-slayings-free-192933711.html"]http://news.yahoo.co...-192933711.html[/url] Now I obviously wasn't paying attention when this happened back in '93, I was preoccupied with dinosaurs and legos. I found a problem with a singular phrase in this article. "All three men were placed on 10 years' unsupervised probation. [u][b]If[/b][/u] [b][u]they re-offend[/u][/b], they could be sent back to prison for 21 years." Personally I see that as an enormous if, not to mention the fact that that phrase has pretty much said they did something bad. Unsupervised? Really? Hell, I'm supervised and I haven't ever been convicted or tried of any crime. Anyone else have an issue with this sort of lackadaisical treatment of three men who may have committed such a heinous crime? I'm not saying no probation but not so lightly at first. I would understand if they said "Hey you're free to due to lack of evidence and what not but we'll be keeping an eye on you for a bit." Am I overreacting? Hulu+ is getting me all riled up by throwing commercials during my Man's Future in the Cosmos lecture thing. Thoughts and opinions? [/quote] Keep in mind that these men have already served something like 18 years in jail on the trial court's conviction. One of the three was even sentenced to death. In light of that, I'm not sure how lackadaisical we can say the prosecutors or the overall criminal justice system has been, if we can say that at all. Their appeal was based on new DNA evidence, which for reasons probably having to do with the available technology of the time was unavailable at trial. [quote name='Chreees' timestamp='1313788600' post='520525'] So... Why are they called the Tennessee 3 if they are from West Memphis, Arkansas? I don't understand... If they have enough evidence, then they should be in jail. The Casey Anthony trial if anything shows us that. I don't know all the facts and evidence against them, but sounds like they should still be in jail atleast. Crazy how our system works sometimes. My feeling is, if we actually used the death penalty more, there'd be less crimes such as this. [/quote] Their "release" is the product of a successful appeal; nothing more. Also, the death penalty has not been shown to act as a deterrent for murder. In fact, states without the death penalty have had historically lower murder rates than states with the death penalty. I suppose though, since you qualified that 'if we were to use the death penalty [u]more[/u], there'd be less crime like this' (emphasis mine) says something more about our [i]efficient[/i] use of it, not whether we say we're using it at all. I suppose also that we'll never really know the answer to that. To know the answer to that we'd have to see years of executions closer in time to the sentencing, without the present appeals process. But, for a penalty of death, we have only seen this process lengthened and complicated. This has not been all bad because a good number of those appeals have been able to utilize DNA evidence to establish a defendant's innocence. [quote name='ChicagoRSX' timestamp='1313904675' post='520666'] [quote name='Chreees' timestamp='1313788600' post='520525'] So... Why are they called the Tennessee 3 if they are from West Memphis, Arkansas? I don't understand... [/quote] That was a typo on funky's part, they are called "The West Memphis 3". Second, I'm not sure how well versed he is on the case, but everything I read basically says this was another botched police investigation that rushed to charge individuals. The 3 charged/convicted of the offense were "goth kids" in the Bible belt of the USA. Seems like typical early 90's justice at the time, and all DNA evidence found at the scene has come out to not belong to any of the 3 men convicted, but rather the step father of one of the children, and the step fathers friend. They plead no-contest, which allows them to maintain their innocence, and allows the state to save face. By "Re-offend" it means any charge, from a DUI to domestic abuse charge, not murder. I find an issue with lackadaisical investigating by law enforcement, but such was the times. And yes, they may have done something bad, but by the same token, they may not have at all. I feel for the families involved and in the end, only 1 knows what really happened. ( I would go on longer, but it's late and I'm lazy. [/quote] These defendants didn't plea no contest, that's something different. In a no contest plea, a defendant simply [i]does not contest the charges[/i] (some refer to it as "remaining silent"); he accepts the court's judgement without having to admit guilt. These defendants offered an "Alford plea," which is when a defendant [i]maintains his innocence[/i], denies committing the act, but acknowledges that the prosecution likely has enough evidence (of beyond a reasonable doubt) to obtain a conviction at trial. These pleas are all as opposed to a straight "guilty" plea, where the defendant [i]admits[/i] guilt, which he will likely have to allocate to, that is to put into the record the details of his acts, and accepts the court's sentence. That sentence usually mirrors what the defendant and the prosecutor have agreed to, and what the prosecutor recommends to the court, but the court is always free, in its discretion, to differ.
  10. I've interpolated a response. [quote name='vendetta_revived' timestamp='1312932271' post='519391'] Well yeah I guess I kind of got off-route there. I am still trying to understand your view point and your arguments, and today being my 10th fast and the fact that English is not my first language (or even the 2nd lol), isn't helping. The point is that I am not claiming absolute certainty about there being no God. You may very well know the points I am going to make but let me explain my stance. If one believes, they can either be a deist or a theist. Now a deist believes that there was a starting force, a creator if you will that started the creation of this universe, but has really no business in our day to day life or such. He/she/it created it and is not involved in anyway, which doesn't really poses any problem to humanity and even though I am an adeist (I know it's not a word), but I see no problem with it either. A theist on the other hand believes that a deity/god not only created the entire universe but is very much involved in it's day to day functioning. He is interested in what we should wear/eat/think and rewards the good behaviour, as well as punishes the bad behaviour with eternal torment. I have a very big problem with that. It's a bane to humanity in more ways than I can explain. So you can very well say that it's not God that I have a problem with but the God of religions. Now I also understand that you are here to not necessarily discuss religion or god, but to just break down some arguments. [/quote] In a larger accounting, you would have to clarify what you mean by the word "involved," because the "God of religions" is hardly a unified or consistent concept. As a Catholic, for one, we do not believe in a God that involves Himself in any material way, as in interfering with the free will of humans. That belief is not, however, shared among all Christians, some of whom believe in an interfering God. While Christians seem to agree on the point of experiencing eternal rewards or punishments, how God metes that out, for Christians, is particular to each Christan religion/denomination, though some happen to agree with others. [quote name='vendetta_revived' timestamp='1312932271' post='519391'] As I mentioned, I am not claiming absolute certainty but talking more in a practical sense. If you hold the concept of absolute certainty, then will you believe the claims of people saying they have seen bigfoot? Leprechauns? people who have been abducted by aliens? Now I have limited knowledge of philosophy, and I am using the term "limited" loosely here, but in philosophical terms, I do understand that knowledge is a subset of belief, which could be defined as Justified true belief, and all these things are important, but in reality, in day to day life, what we do is analyze whether or not a claim is likely to be true, and I am not claiming absolute certainty here. Like what will you say if someone asks you if leprechauns exist? - I am not sure? I for one don't believe that leprechauns exist, and in a day to day colloquial conversation, I will say that leprechauns don't exist. Now I am not claiming absolute certainty there. Not saying that there are no leprechauns in any universe at any time. I am talking about things in practical terms, in terms that are useful. And in the same context that it seems fair to me to say that there is no leprechauns, I say that there is no God, and well, MOST religious folk are not talking about that kind of knowledge when they say that they KNOW. [/quote] Somewhat on point, I posted in [url="http://www.hookahforum.com/topic/31147-the-oldest-debate-gets-older/"]a previous thread[/url] the [url="http://www.hookahforum.com/topic/31147-the-oldest-debate-gets-older/page__view__findpost__p__378124"]following[/url] (with [b]emphasis[/b] added): [quote]I would offer that theists do have proof, that we do have "evidence" for our belief in God. For some theists, the various deductive proofs for God's existence convince them, for others, a constellation of observances, experiences and intuition assemble to build an inductive vindication for God's existence. Of course, that same evidence for others doesn't amount to anything - they are not similarly convinced. To a great extent, that's a natural playing out of the human experience: perception and acceptance. In this regard, some theists, like St. Thomas Aquinas, and those who argue against belief in God's existence by means of an evidentialist objection (what you seem to be arguing - that belief in God is rationally acceptable only if there is evidence for it) [u]agree[/u]. [b]So, we have both certain atheists and certain theists agreeing that we do not have to prove God's non-existence in order to justify atheism, atheism is obligatory in the absence of any evidence for God's existence. Where the two sides disagree is on what counts as satisfactory evidence that proves God's existence.[/b] Furthermore, one strand of theists, of the sort that follows St. Thomas Aquinas's argument, says that we do have evidence, which is supplied to us by our rationality (i.e. that we can rationally deduce God's existence) and observation (i.e. that we can witness a certain complexity that has had to have been designed - their further assumption is that the designer is God). "Faith" for this particular type of theist doesn't mean accepting God's existence without evidence, it means accepting the claims of God (e.g. religious claims made by, say, a church, in the form of, say, doctrine) - again, it's not faith in God's existence. This type of theists believes in God because they accept as evidence those certain things that point to, for them, God's existence. The concept of "faith" is something different. I hope you see the similarity and distinction I have attempted to point out. [b]The debate then does not center on having faith in things unseen (and therefore believing in God), it centers on what counts as evidence for believing in God. In this way, this particular group of theists and this particular group of atheists (evidentialist objectors) have the same arguments - they both believe that evidence for God's existence is required for proper belief - but their disagreement centers on what that evidence is. [/b][/quote] [quote name='vendetta_revived' timestamp='1312932271' post='519391'] Regarding your point of objectivity, I'd like to put forward the example of the "former" planet pluto. It takes some 200 odd years for pluto to go around the sun, but we haven't known about the existence of pluto for that long, so how does one prove that it orbits around the sun? that it has ever completed a circle, or it ever will? bringing objectivity into the picture doesn't really do anything because we have the maths to prove it. It's not like science stops working on occasion now is it? We know that this planet is governed by gravity and the law of physics that are consistently reliable. Again, talking about the god of religions, there is a reason why there is no documentation of miracles, because these things don't happen, and while there might be things that we don't have a good explanation for (yet), but nothing turns physics on it's head. And I believe in justifying my beliefs to the best degree that they can be. Beliefs inform actions, and I want to know, to the best degree that I can know, I mean we can't know everything, that my beliefs are true or likely to be true. I want to get rid of as many as false beliefs as possible. When you talk of objectivity Good sir, are you saying that we don't have any reliable method for distinguishing fact from fantasy? Absolute certainty isn't really practical if you think of it. In absolute terms, we can't know ANYTHING for sure, so I guess words like "facts", "truth", "fantasy", "lies" - they are pretty useless eh? All base for knowledge and ALL knowledge itself will go down the tunnel if you talk in objective and absolute terms, don't you think? [/quote] [quote name='vendetta_revived' timestamp='1312932271' post='519391'] Now to address the point of burden of proof, it's the extraordinary claims that need extraordinary evidence. I am not claiming anything extraordinary. I am only claiming that how the world around me works, IS how it works, and that's pretty basic huh? It's the people who are claiming that there is a super natural entity that have in the past and can suspend the laws of nature and physics that need to provide an evidence of their claims. Now I know you are not claiming to such a god ( at least in this discussion), and that is where I guess our debate seems a bit redundant since i am talking about the God as portrayed in the holy books of the world. [/quote] I can't deny the binding nature of physics, but I can't also deny that there have been paradigm shifts in any community of knowledge, including the sciences. That isn't to say that the we rest on entirely unstable ground, but it is to say that the ground is less stable than any of us seem to appreciate. [Edited to add links to the previous thread/post.]
  11. [quote name='antouwan' timestamp='1312579355' post='518917'] I know what you mean at a lesser level, I had a friend of mine who is a priest from Nicaragua. He was there during the Sandinista revolution, and saw the intense persecution of the practicing Catholics and clergy there. also, having gone to barcelona and seeing the state which some of the churches are still in (graffitied, smoke stains from arson) from the civil war shows you what people will do in the name of "rationalism." after the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI, our university started weekly masses in the Tridentine rite. University of St. Thomas is the only Basilian University in the US, and the center of the world for Thomistic studies - seriously. i've been very thankful to go to a parochial high school and university with extremely orthodox, educated, and well-informed educators. i know what the nominal catholic schools are like (the Jesuit universities are the worst - and i went to a Jesuit High School!) - i have plenty of friends who went to them (Georgetown, SLU, Boston College) and their faith really suffered. If you're ever in Houston, the University of St. Thomas has an amazing high mass on Sunday evenings during the school year, including an all male altar serving lineup, the gloria and sanctus in latin, hyper-orthodox sermons, and enough smoke from a thurible to make you smell like christmas when you leave! we're also located across the street from the beautiful Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral (and there's a non-related Byzantine Fresco Museum <1 mile away) [/quote] I thought about going to St. Thomas! But, the center of the world for Thomism! I know a few [url="http://www.pusc.it/eng/"]Santa Croce[/url] grads that would take issue with that claim, most definitely. Hahah. Friends of mine didn't go to Santa Croce because they knew they couldn't write anything [i]not[/i] incorporating Thomism.
  12. [quote name='antouwan' timestamp='1312413470' post='518539'] like wicked orthodox. mad skills. everything i've read from you has been top notch (not like i'm the pinnacle of theology or anything), but i went to parochial schools my entire life. from my education, there's no way for me to ignore theism. additionally, there are some pretty good, well thought out, and strong arguments for Catholicism - which, again, must be acknowledged. i used to be a practicing, devout Catholic, i even spoke with priests from my schools and the head of the diocese regarding vocations...then i learned some things. don't get me wrong, i still love God and the church community, but the bureaucracy has tainted many things - does that make not practicing alright - no, but it definitely makes it more difficult. i've dabbled in many religions, but never adhered to any of them. however, i think there is something within the Orthodox community which is profound, real, and is not the product of over-analytical western thought, and the disease of bureaucracy and the malcontent of quite a few bishops who call councils and then destroy a religion. call me anti-vatican ii - i don't care. you can even call me a sedevacantist - i don't care. what i do care about is the sacred that was lost. i am a traditionalist. my father is Druze. my mother was raised baptist, but theologically speaking, she is a nonentity. i grew up going to catholic schools, and having that rammed down my throat since day one. i don't mean it in a bad way, just not a mentally stimulating way; how can you mentally stimulate a young person of elementary/middle school age? when i got to high school things really got interesting. university studies only complemented what i learned in high school. after learning about a multitude of other religions, there are many i legitimately respect, but an even greater number i thoroughly enjoy dismantling. i'm glad that i know what i know so that i don't get sucked into the new age, oprah winfrey style "spiritualism" that so many "spiritual, but not religious" people fall into…i'd rather commit hara-kiri than subject myself to that crap... [/quote] Thanks! I hear you totally! Your journey, if I may call it that, has mirrored mine in a lot of ways. But for a few small experiences, I bet they might've been identical. I have a deep sympathy for the Traditionalist (big "T") movement within the Catholic Church. One of my best friends grapples with this routinely - as he attends Tridentine Mass, and rather loathes what has passed for "reform." For my own part, I've found a spiritual home in the ecclesial movments, which arose immediately before and immediately after Vatican II, out of countries in which Catholicism was, at the time, dangerous to practice, even outlawed. Learning from those priests, whose experiences suffering persecution, jailing, intimidation, and even witnessing torture and killings of other practicing Catholics, has strengthened my faith while at the same time reduced it to a basic, livable experience. About your difficulties with the present Church, it seems as though you're you're own best critic and have seemed to anticipate the common rebuttals - that's the indication of a thinking believer. For my part, if it weren't for the time I spent among seminarians, novices, scholastics, and the like, in a routine of community, prayer, daily sacrifice (you know the rest probably), I don't think I would've arrived where I have, which is as a committed, practicing believer. I suppose I too operate from a similar perspective, not understanding the bureaucracy at times (and not in a conceptual sense, b/c that I - and I'm sure you - understand, but in the sense as a witness to it: What are they thinking!?), but, as said, if it weren't for my boot-camp experience of seminary, I don't think I could have "resolved" to practice as I do. Last...about Catholic education - it is in a lamentable state, and as been for generations. The truth acknowledged by orthodox Catholics about Catholic education is that it is the surest way to loose one's faith! A terrible anecdote, but true nonetheless. I graduated from a Catholic undergrad liberal arts college, which was only nominally Catholic. I thought of going for grad work at a Pontifical school in Rome, mostly at the suggestion of my then spiritual director. In the end, I went to a truly orthodox Catholic law school where I found out about a handful of Catholic colleges known for their orthodoxy: U of Dallas, Franciscan University, Christendom, etc. Learning law in that environment was awesomely satisfying. Our professors constantly challenged our religious senses, in a good way. They were, of course, all devoutly Catholic, but knew that the best education we could receive required extreme criticism and deconstruction (if I may use that po-mo term) of ingrained religiosity because such a perspective is either bemoaned or outright unacceptable in public forums. Though, after all, I wish I studied more philosophy! An undergrad degree in it isn't enough!
  13. [quote name='Rani' timestamp='1312073982' post='517877'] i honestly believe we have reached the point where the two-party system is killing us. There is simply too much power consolidated in the two of them. It's all rhetoric, grandstanding smoke and mirrors. And none of us should be surprised. They're all lawyers. Law degrees all over the freakin' place. And lawyers are never about truth - they've been trained for years to deal only with what they can get away with and what they can prevent from being proven. Ever meet one you could trust to be honest? Me either and yet we all keep electing these damn scum sucking lawyers. No wonder the flippin' country is in such a mess. Republicans want to cut spending and want to cut it all from entitlements while continuing to send money to overseas corporations and governments who contribute mega-bucks to their campaigns.. Democrats want to hang onto entitlements but not because American money should be given back to the American people for their benefit, but because they think the "look we're on the side of the poor downtrodden" will gain them another round in Washington. There are more poor than there are wealthy in this country and the Democrat's are using them to garner votes. Nothing more. Nobody much doubts anymore they're all out for themselves and their own agendas so they can keep a personal score-card of wins and losses, just like every single lawyer in the country. Neither party gives a rats ass about your small business, or the elderly or anything else. Only themselves. I believe the way to shake them up is to vote against both big parties. Vote independent, peace and freedom, green party, whatever. Hell maybe we need to start a nation wide campaign to elect Mushrat on a write in vote right here from our little forum. He knows how to drop a hammer on somebody so they feel it. Once the "big two" start losing seats to people not aligned with the "party line" the power blockage on both sides will start to crumble. They all need a little "holy shit I'm on my own here" moment. No more wheeling and dealing within their own parties and backing each other to pull the wool over our eyes. Until we break up the consolidated power in the two major parties, the American people and it's home grown business are all going to keep getting screwed. Without a single drink let alone dinner. 'Rani [/quote] I think the issue of the debt ceiling is the latest in a series of debates that our country has engaged in of late that has at its core the question about the proper role and size of government. I also think it's hackneyed to say that our country or our government is broken. I happen to agree with Charles Krauthammer's latest piece, [url="http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/273017/debt-ceiling-divide-charles-krauthammer"]The Debt-Ceiling Divide[/url]. To summarize, Krauthammer believes that a war of ideologies is taking place--between expansive government liberals/Democrats against limited government conservatives/Republicans. On this issue, and which I say as a self-identifying Conservative, the Tea Party contingent of the Republican party is wrong; they're playing a game of principle when we clearly require a pragmatic solution. Also, I'm sympathetic to Krauthammer's argument that in doing so, they're operating on a self-destructive, if not counter-constitutional path. As an aside, I'm also sympathetic to Rani's criticism of the legal profession, as a lawyer myself. I don't, however, believe the blame for this county's predicament rests at the feet of the bar. Law school trains in the ways of advocacy, fashioning an argument and championing it towards the end of serving your client, whether that be the "people," in the case of a government attorney, or a specific person (including corporate persons), in the case of a private practitioner. One of the greatest fictions of the legal profession, and perhaps even conventional wisdom is that practicing law has something to do with "truth," as Rani seems to expose. I don't believe truth has anything to do with it; I would go even further and argue that truth [i]cannot[/i] have anything to do with it. In representing clients, lawyers assume a legal and ethical responsibility to represent and advocate for that client. With the exception of not being allowed to engage in perjurious practices, lawyers have no obligation to search for truth, or ensure its vindication. For example, in a criminal trial, the public is under the mistaken impression that it has something to do with achieving or enforcing justice, which certainly has a relationship close to truth, in the sense we're speaking about here. Lawyers, for their part, have not taken the time to explain how this is not the case. What actually takes place is a process that attempts to ensure that a defendant is not wrongly convicted. Not that that always works out that way. Although I haven't done research to prove this claim, I would agree that most elected officials are, by education, lawyers. I think also that politics is a natural professional fit for the personality type and skill set possessed by most lawyers, which to me goes a long way explaining why most politicians are lawyers. So, while it is true that most politicians might be lawyers (and for reasons their education, training, and work highlight), most lawyers are not politicians. Lawyer-Politicians, I would also venture to guess, count for very few of the total lawyers out there. To return the the thread's subject - what we're experiencing in this latest debate on the debt ceiling is really the latest incarnation of the divide that separates this country over the proper role of government; fiscal "conservatives" on one side, playing chicken with the (in this case) practically-minded liberals/Democrats. The debate, as I see it, is far from nefarious, but has the capacity to be as, if not more, destructive.
  14. Leave it to me to return to the form for a threat about religion, albeit one not intended for debate. I was raised in a practicing Catholic household. My mother is a "cradle" Catholic, while my father was a convert (at 19). I left the Chuch (but not theism) after my confirmation, and didn't return until my 20s. Along the way I explored various faiths but never subscribed to any. I also flirted with agnosticism, in that I experienced a period of uncertainty. In my early 20s I returned to Catholicism, and a short time after that I entered the seminary to study for the priesthood. Eventually I left the seminary when I realized I didn't have a vocation to the priesthood. I continued with school...and work..and Catholicism (to date). I'm a practicing Catholic now, and consider myself rather orthodox (small "o").
  15. [quote name='Balthazar' timestamp='1282761681' post='480248'] Two articles from Hitchens: [. . . ] [url="http://www.slate.com/id/2263334/"]Link[/url] [url="http://www.slate.com/id/2264770/"]Link[/url] [/quote] [b]Thanks [/b]for sharing these two pieces - awesome analysis, as Hitchens usually produces. Even at death's door, he's sharp! I particularly like his argument that any criticism leveled against Islam or this project specifically doesn't necessarily equate to religious intolerance or "Islamophobia." I do like also his dismantling of the analogy of Nazi symbolism at Holocaust memorials. My only disagreement is with his attempt to refute the analogy of Japanese cultural centers at Pearl Harbor, which he acknowledges does not exist, but that he doesn't see why not. The reason why not is perhaps something he misses in the behavior of the majority Japanese-American demographic of Hawaii and Pearl Harbor, which is [i]restraint[/i]. No one has come out saying that such centers should not be built (probably because they're not planned to be built I would assume), but I would (also) assume that if Japanese Americans wanted such a center, they would have attempted to build one already. Their restraint on the matter speaks volumes. Let's note too, overall, he doesn't at all defend the mosque's construction, rather, he distinguishes those arguments so far employed against (and sometimes for) it.
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