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Everything posted by Jim

  1. Having given this quite a bit of thought, I've concluded it is time for me to move on although I'm not sure to where. Let me first thank those who created this board. I can't image the time and energy that went into seeing this endeavor from concept to creation. Although, ultimately, the way this has developed does not suit my particular needs, my hat is off to you all for what you have created and I hope that the board becomes more of what you envision. Most of all, I want to thank the posters. I won't even attempt to name them individually but I feel that my world view has been improved by you all. On occassion, a political or other issue would come up over lunch that we had discussed here and I could only smile at the advantage I had in the discussion. SFN increased my respect for what I don't know. Sometimes a new perspective was something of a culture shock for this Okie boy but I know I gained by the nexus this board provided between a slew of very intelligent people interested in science and the events of our day. I'm so tempted to name names but I'd be here half the morning. I only regret that there wasn't a SFN convention where I could have met you all, even the curmudgeons like myself. In any event, no hard feelings and I wish you all the very best. Jim
  2. Where, exactly, did the posts swerve out of bounds? Was Pangloss' point out of bounds? It makes it appear as if even the leaders don't know the lines Was my post out of line? We are judging this by your sense of the "prevailing discussion?" Good lord. I have no clue as to what a political but not religious thread on the Pope's offense and then apology to Muslims would look like. We are left to figure it out but the reality is no one is going to post anything about the political impact of religion unless you make the lines clear. You might as well ban all discussion of religion even in the politics board. Too bad that some of the most important aspects of politics in the coming century have to do with religion. Are non-leaders allowed to use four letter words? If I were to characterize your post with four letter words, I bet that would get me a warning. To stray into substance, even asking questions about this radical new policy is s***-stiring? Good grief. Please, think about what you are saying. I've been here since 12/05 posting 4.61 messages a day. Somehow this place has become a part of my daily life and I am distressed by your, above all of the other leaders', for want of a better word - heavy handedness. You close a thread in which even Pangloss contributed without so much as a rational explanation. You make me shake my head at myself that I invested so much of myself here.
  3. Martin, I've not bothered to tell you in the past how much I have enjoyed your rare combination of perspective, intelligence and genteel nature. This post had me smiling. Thank you.
  4. Did you really think I needed the all caps answers to understand?
  5. Bottom line, I do not think I'm a candidate for the SFN you envision. Although your view did not entirely carry the day this time, I have no reason to believe my input will be sought on further changes. No hard feelings. If I had started a board for lawyers and non-lawyers were going off on issues I wasn't particularly keen to discuss, I might shut down those areas accepting that I would lose the nonlawyer posters. I do think this should be made clear from the inception. I don't think I would ever go to a point system for warnings. This gives the mere illusion of objectivity and strikes me as something a elementary school teacher might impose on an unruley class. Don't lose all of the marbles from your jars kids, or you won't get recess! How can you have any pudding if you don't have your meat? I'll wait to see what remains of what I value in SFN after the Philosophy section is revived.
  6. Particularly since just today the thread re the Pope's apology was closed. Here we have a worldwide event with clear political signficance yet it is closed off without any real thought or explanation.
  7. I have to say that the closure of P&R has materially decreased the value of SFN for me and I am uncertain as to whether I will stay. Bewtween IMM's posts on Veganism and the rough and tumble exchange on Islamic radicalism, Sisyphus invariably disspassionate and informative posts on philosophy, I learned from P&R. For the first time in my life, I do not think that Veganism is per se ridiculous (and even feel a bit guilty when I tuck into a steak). I appreciate the depth of prior thought in Philosophy which, frankly, I have never spent adequate time in study. Yes, there were dust ups on occassion but I live my life in conflict and the chance to learn something is far more important than having to read few a few petty squabbles. I do not deny the right of the leadership to close the P&R. I'm not the one who spends money and time to make SFN happen. I appreciate their efforts and if P&R detracted to the value they received from the endeavor then it is game over for P&R with no hard feelings. Twas fun while it lasted. The fact that there was concern about the Politics board also gives me concern even though, for now, they have decided not to terminate. Had I earlier realized that there was a real possibility of closing P&R or Politics, I probably would not have invested nearly as much interest in SFN. Personally, had I been in a leadership position, I would have let it be known long ago that Politics and P&R were potentally on the chopping block. Maybe that was posted but I sure missed it. It may also be that, even more frankly, I am not the demographic they are looking for at SFN. I do not have a science background which is something I regret in my life. I can rarely, if ever, contribute more than an uninformed question to the core science topics and, therefore, have simply lurked in Politics and P&R. If this is not the kind of poster you are seeking to attract, I think you should be clear when people register.
  8. With the closure of Philosoply & Religion, I need to know if there is any discussion regarding the potential closure of the politics forum.
  9. You are closing P&R but then opening a new, clean forum for P&R? Is there a possibility the politics board will be closed?
  10. What I would like to see from Muslim groups is some statement such as the following: "My fellow Muslims: Please get a grip and stop overreacting to an minor innocent point made by the Pope in a much more substantial speech. If we want to be respected in the free world, it is our responsibility to respect freedom of expression. Phony overblown reaction of anger to this speech will not serve us well in the long term if we want the modern world's respect. Many of our own hurt Islam by threatening to kill cartoonists and authors. Many of our own have made hateful comments about Jews and this makes us look like we can dish it out but we can't take it. This must stop. Now. You who react with rage and violence to thoughts are the real danger to Islam and I condemn you. Isn't it time that we showed tolerence and understanding in the face of a potential slight in leiu of defensive outrage? Reading the full text of the Pope's September 14 speech there is absolutely no reason to believe that he thinks that Islam is evil but, let's face facts brothers, we do have problems. Our religion has a growing disease of radicallism which is far more of a threat to those of us who value peace and abhor the cynical use of religion for transient political purporses. Your reaction to the Pope's innocent speech is a manifestation of that disease. Some of you have even suggested that the Pope was advocating a new crusade. How can you be so disingenuous when the Pope expressly said, the "decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature." Is this not what we now believe? In some cases, I believe the Pope was wrong but I, unlike the Catholics, never claimed that he was infallible. When the Pope stated, "But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality," I found myself nodding, not in agreement, but that this is a fair assessment of a divide in religious thinking. The Pope, was, after all, correct when he said that "the noted French Islamist R Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us." Was this not an opportunity for us to talk rationally amongst ourselves as to what we believe and, if it is clear that this characterization was false, to calmly explain why? Do we not risk proving the Pope's point by reacting with incoherent rage to an intellectual point which does us no harm? What, my brothers, is our fear of words and ideas? My faith is not so weak that I feel vulnerable to ideas. I may feel sadness that others do not share the joy of my life in loving God but never rage. Above all else, the Pope's speech repeatedly advocates the Greek heritage of rationality in Christian belief. I, for one, agree with his central point - God does not, CAN NOT, value coerced faith. I have no idea what it is that GOd sees of value in mere men such as I but whatever the quality that brings God's love it has something to do with our free choice to give our lives to him. Nothing in the Pope's speech said that modern Muslims do not now share this belief. In fact, nothing in the Pope's speech said that Christians uniformly share his belief either. To the contrary, the Pope said: "The thesis that the critically purified Greek heritage forms an integral part of Christian faith has been countered by the call for a dehellenization of Christianity - a call which has more and more dominated theological discussions since the beginning of the modern age." Will you rage at me for admitting that I enjoyed the Pope's speech? I find nothing with which to disagree in the Pope's conclusion: I ask you again, brothers, what do we fear from these words? More to the point, what do we gain by isolating a single section which quoted an 14th century emperor during a seige by Mehmed II whom early Ottoman historians claimed was a prophet of Islam? Please, brothers, grow up and have faith in our God not to be harmed by the words of men. I beg you all to join with me in condemning not the Pope but those who have overreacted to his message of rational nonviolence.
  11. What's with the philosphy forum being locked?
  12. Jim

    The Path to 9/11

    The Berger scene sounds out of line. It is fine to present a synthesis of events but a program shouldn't lay an amalgam of events on one guy. Beyond that, it's kind of basic. A show which starts with the first World Trade Center bombing and goes forward from 1993 to 9/11/01 is going to come off as more critical of Clinton because Clinton had years to deal with the problem while Bush had only months. As is illustrated by their reaction when the case was over (see Washington Post article above), I also think Clinton was mightily distracted by the Jones/Lewinsky debacle. LOL. Can we at least get one fact correct: The problem with Clinton wasn't that he had an affair and lied about it. His problem was that he had a couple of state troopers bring an employee up to his hotel room and then, allegedly, exposed himself to her. Then, when the woman filed a sexual harassment suit, he lied under oath in front of a Federal Judge. I remain baffled as to how this didn't become common knowledge. Jones lost the case because she hadn 't suffer any damages. She got the same job promotions she otherwise would have recieved. The Lewinsky affair would have been relevant IF Judge Wright had accepted Jones' argument that offering and withholding a benefit in exchange for sex constitutes harassment (and not just suffering a detriment for rebuffing the boss). In other words, Jones wanted to show that if she had accepted the sexual invitation, like Lewinsky, she would have received certain favors. When Clinton lied under oath no one knew that the Judge would take this view of the law and it was anything but certain her view would have been affirmed on appeal. This is why Clinton paid Jones $850,000 to settle the matter. The seriousness of Clinton's offense is underlined by the Judge finding him in contempt, sanctioning him around $80K (as I recall) and referring the matter to the state bar. This from a Judge who had just ruled in his favor. This was never just about the affair. It was a wierd combination of events which created a nexus between Clinton's affair with Lewinsky and the claims of Paula Jones. Many times in litigation a case will turn on far less than this kind of wierd confluence of events. I read a transcript of Clinton's deposition once and his lawyers objected mightily to the questions about Lewinsky. However, the Judge denied those objection in the discovery depostion and required him to answer. Clinton had a choice and his choice was to lie under oath. As I said before, I don't think Clinton's perjury warranted impeachment and it certainly shouldn't be a focus on a story about the path to 9/11 but it was a damned sight more serious than the guy having sex with a staffer. Yes, I'm sure Stalin had his pick of the litter. Would you lie under oath in a civil lawsuit?
  13. Jim

    The Path to 9/11

    When in doubt, ask the Washington Post:
  14. I wouldnt' declare victory either although I agree it's hard to judge his argument without having access to the subscription portion of the Atlantic Monthly. I think Fallow is talking about the mindset of the nation. It reminds me of the scene from Wag the Dog where the President's opposition declares victory in the Albanian war.
  15. Jim

    The Path to 9/11

    I've not heard any convincing evidence that Bush intentionally lied to lead the nation to war. I think he genuinely believed what he was saying and, perhaps, was relying on his advisors with respect to the overblown 16 words. I seriously doubt he was intimately familiar with the aluminum tube story in any detail. However, as you say, at most Bush's dishonesty is an alleged fact whereas Clinton's dishonesty was first under oath in a very serious lawsuit. This is an undisputed fact as established in the case by an express ruling by Judge Susan Webber Wright. To answer your question even more directly, I agree there is a huge difference. Bush honestly believed that Saddam had to go on his watch and was fulfilling his Constitutionally mandated function of leading a nation against what he, rightly or wrongly, perceived to be a threat to the nation. Clinton was using all of the resources of office of the presidency for personal reasons. As I said, I would not have impeached Clinton and at the time worried that he was completely distracted by the Jones/Lewinsky mess. However, I give a lot less slack to a President misusing the office for personal gain (or, in this case, to avoid personal loss) than I do to a president who is acting against what he perceives to be a threat to the national interest.
  16. Jim

    The Path to 9/11

    I hear what you are saying and I agree that the same dynamic is in play where many people desparately want the other side to be nothing short of evil. We've even seen it on this board with Bush being compared to Hitler. Nothing sates the emotional need to simplify a complex world than the belief that those with whom you disagree are bad guys. I respected Clinton's intellect and political gift just not his character. While impeachment would have set a terrible precedent, it will not do to underestimate Clinton's offenses. I continually marvelled at the ability of the left to give him a pass for committing perjury in a sexual harassment lawsuit, hiding behind Hillary and then Albright's skirts (who he sent out to the cameras to lie for him) and villifying women with whom he was alleged to have relationships ("I did not have sex with that woman!"). It was a sordid affair and it did diminish the office of the Presidency. Say what you will, but at least Bush hasn't used the office to extract his own ... neck off of the chopping block of a forceful wronged wife. At the core of the Clinton/Lewinsky mess was Clinton's core misdeed - not sex in the oval office but perjury in a federal court building in front of opposing counsel and a federal district court judge. It was no defense to say the lawsuit did not have merit (which was an open issue when Clinton paid $850,000 to settle the appeal). Every litigant is entitled to have his questions answered fairly in the discovery process and the Judge in this case concluded that Clinton had, in fact, committed a serious misdeed for which she referred him to the bar authorities. Judge Susan Webber Wright ultimately sided with Clinton on the legal question involved (e.g. that the Lewinsky issue would not be admitted in the Jones v. Clinton case). Judges are often reluctant to permit a side issue to develop in the trial. It delays the case and you end up with a trial within a trial on side issues. However, this is a decision which could have gone either way and Jones was entitled to have her questions in the initial discovery phase of the litigation answered honestly. This same judge, having made the call as fairly as she could and, as it happened, in favor of Clilnton, still held Clinton in contempt of Court for a "willful failure to testify truthfully." At the time and still today, I believed the constant mantra of the left in defense of their man that this was all "just about sex" to be intellectually dishonest in the extreme. None of this would have gone anywhere if Clinton hadn't lied under oath in a serious proceeding which he ultimately was forced to settle. Clinton intentionally committed a serious crime and I think it is hillarious how so many give him a pass (not talking about you now Pangloss). This is undisputed. Despite the constant slander of the press and the left, I do not think Bush intentionally exaggerated intelligence information nor do I think the existence of WMDs at the precise moment of an invasion was particularly germane.
  17. James Fallows, no fan of the Bush administration, thinks it is time to declare victory against al-Qaeda. Mission accomplished?
  18. Jim

    The Path to 9/11

    I have to admit I am enjoying this immensely. How dare they suggest St. Bill might have some responsibility? It will be interesting to learn to what extent ABC ultimately bows to the democrats. The dems problem is that it's impossible to do a story on the path to 9/11 which doesn't emphasis the multiple years of failure before Bush took office more than it does the eight months he had in office pre 9/11/01. Note how Clinton used his charitable foundation to press his demand: The entire matter has me chortling in my margarita tonight. How many times have we heard about the respected sanctified 9/11 commission report yet this film has the head of that commission as a paid consultant. *chortle*
  19. Jim


    It depends on how the "state of Israel ceased to exist." When I was a college debater a "few" years ago, one of the teams argued the US should surrender to the USSR. The resolution was something like "Resolved that the US should significantly increase its foreign military commitments." (Heh, googled that and I remembered it exactly!) An ivy league team argued that the US should not increase its commitments but should simply surrender. Communism would then moderate and show it's true benign face and everlasting world peace would ensue.
  20. What due process should FDR have given Nazi spies in WWII? As it happenened, he appointed a military commission which had them executed. What do you think of President Lincoln's treatment of confederate spies?
  21. It is possible there is more here than meets the eye. I wouldn't immediately accept the Washington Post or an opinion piece in The Nation as providing objective truth.
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