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Obama's Pragmatism
I think I’m beginning to understand Barack Obama’s concept of pragmatism better. Pragmatism is the name of a school of philosophy. The major point to understand is that, in the pragmatic view, we have to continue working hard at “business as usual,” regardless of what we believe is ethically right or wrong. As I understand it, Obama’s current philosophically-inspired position is that economic success is the major gauge of his leadership, simply because that is the way everything works in our civilization. Many aspects of our system are repugnant, probably as much to Obama as to some of those reading this, but according to his pragmatism we can’t get away from things as they are.

Obama’s is a deeply thought out attitude and not the same as a policy of continuous expediency. He demands that we throw ourselves into the world as we find it. I think he would say that any other attitude amounts to shirking our (his) responsibility to run the country for the good of everyone, including the good of people we detest.

This attitude can be compared with the one advanced by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived life in Auschwitz while following similar principles. I recommend Frankl’s moving and disturbing book without reservation to anyone who would try to see human beings as we are, inextricably connected to the world around us. In some ways the philosophy of Frankl is the antithesis of the agonized lament, heard in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, that “Hell is other people.”

I’m not sure I can entirely accept either Obama’s pragmatism or Frankl’s grim determination to follow the road on which we find ourselves. Nevertheless I believe these are ideas that we need to take seriously, particularly in light of the current president’s apparently deep commitment to principles such as I am awkwardly trying to characterize here.

If Obama succeeds in getting himself voted in for another term, it will be interesting to find out what he does with his second four years. He may not change his policies, but I’m hoping he will start to explain, in much greater depth, the decisions he is making and the logic he follows in making them.

—Ralph    |  


Wiki-Leaking Bank Information
For anyone interested in learning more about Wikileaks, how it operates, its ethics and an example of the character of one leaker, I recommend watching this video. Probably because of server overload, the video may take up to about 15 minutes to begin playing. It’s worth the wait.
—Ralph    |  


USA Has a Right-Sided Bias
This week’s diplomatic spat between the US and Venezuela illustrates the built-in U.S. bias against leftist governments.
(Reuters) - Venezuela condemned on Thursday the United States’ revocation of its ambassador’s visa. […]

In the latest flare-up between the ideological foes, Washington withdrew the visa of ambassador Bernardo Alvarez on Wednesday in retaliation for the rejection by socialist President Hugo Chavez of Obama’s nominated U.S. envoy to Caracas.

Chavez had blocked [U.S. envoy] Larry Palmer’s arrival, after the diplomat accused Venezuela’s government of close ties to leftist Colombian rebels. [Palmer] also alleged declining morale and growing Cuban influence in Venezuela’s armed forces.

It’s easy to see why U.S. foreign policy is always so strongly biased against leftist governments: there are still substantial remnants of U.S. anti-communism, the pillar upon which most of Washington’s foreign policy rested from the beginning of the Cold War, around 1947, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Throughout 44 years of Cold War polarization, a strong tradition of U.S. anti-leftism became deeply rooted. And even though 20 years has now passed since the collapse of Russian communism, there is still a fixed expectation, both at home and in the rest of the world, that the U.S. will always oppose leftist governments such as Venezuela’s, while glossing over the faults of rightist states like El Salvador, to which

the United States has sent more than $1 billion in military aid […] in the last decade, and $2 billion more in economic assistance.
Anti-communist habits of thought also help explain why, two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. press and media still retain a strong right-sided bias. A reflexive “anti-communist” miasma of condemnation subtly permeates the atmosphere when any domestic policy appears to lean leftward.

As long as reactive hatred of communism and reactive fear of terrorism combine to lock U.S. political dialog into a tiny pen, there’s little hope we’ll hear sensible policy discussion any time soon.

—Ralph    |  


Ease of Use
Republicans no longer care how obvious they are about passing legislation exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy. They have no further need to hide this or anything else, because the likes of Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh and hundreds of other right-wing radio and tv presenters all over the country are able to spin whatever their favored politicians may happen to say into electoral gold.

This wonderful ease of use of the populace is just one of the many miracles made possible by having so large a proportion of uneducated and under-educated citizens. Remember that the American economy is driven by consumption. You only have to know how to eat.

—Ralph    |  


What is a Conservative?
What exactly is an American conservative, anyway? I can’t think of a description that fits the present range of candidates. Is a conservative…
  • A religious fundamentalist who is fanatically opposed to abortion for any reason?
  • A wealthy individual trying to get his taxes reduced by giving money to a politician who promises to cut all taxes?
  • A person opposed to government spending (except for military, CIA, Homeland Security and “Black Ops” spending)?
  • An advocate of “white power,” also opposed to social services and immigration?
  • Someone who believes in “personal responsibility” (except when his or own family needs some kind of help)?
  • A politician who tries to block any legislative proposal advanced by Democrats, including legislation he or she has previously sponsored?
  • Someone who believes “Barack Hussein Obama” is secretly a Kenyan Muslim?
This is, of course, an ironic post, but it also contains a serious question: is there any common set of beliefs shared by self-described American conservatives?
—Ralph    |  


Reality vs Human Nature
We often hear that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Public opinion, on the other hand, has a well-known bias in favor of ignorance and jingoism. The truth is usually evident, but will not be accepted until much later. This is especially true when the truth turns out to be unpleasant or (even worse) expensive.
—Ralph    |  


Angry with Barack Obama?
I get pretty disappointed, even angry with Obama because he has neither ended the wars nor closed Guantanamo, but then I have to remember how much I hated Lyndon Johnson for his horrible war in Vietnam. Because of the massive public reaction against that war, in 1968 Johnson did not run for a second full term in office.

But now we remember Lyndon Johnson as the president who moved the Civil Rights Act of 1965 through Congress, and signed it.

It’s true that Barack Obama isn’t the most popular president, and that he’s not helping other Democrats. Those are the unfortunate facts. But we can still hope that the legislation Obama and this Congress have passed will help the country over the long term.

—Ralph    |  



Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com


Cached May 6, 2015, 11:12 am (all times Eastern US)
 
Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
Reuters News
Baltimore asks Justice Department
to review police practices


SpaceX puts Dragon passenger
spaceship through test run


Over 120 dead in more Yemen
fighting, aid groups may stop work


Sudan says anti-air defenses
engaged target, deny attack


Global bond rout deepens,
oil hits year's high


Romania's Ponta eyes new pact
with ally ahead of election


Day 16 of jury deliberations in 1979
New York missing boy murder trial


Florida woman's online order
asks for pizza, police help


Oil train derails in North
Dakota, small town evacuated


Germany's Merkel to discuss
Ukraine with Putin in Moscow


Germanwings pilot rehearsed
crash on outbound flight


Libya's coast guard detains
almost 600 African migrants


Russia's Putin, Germany's Merkel
to discuss Ukraine on May 10


NHC says 60 percent chance of cyclone
for storm approaching Bahamas


At Greek port, migrants dream and
despair in abandoned factories


Deepening bond rout
rattles world markets


Assad says army to reinforce
besieged troops in northwest Syria


Britain's closest election in a
generation goes down to the wire


Boston bomber's lawyers aim to
paint Tsarnaev as teen gone astray


Aid agencies may stop Yemen work,
Houthis say raids near border kill 43


Accused 'flash crash' trader tells
UK court: 'I did nothing wrong'


Hamas-Fatah face-off leaves hard
road ahead for Palestinians


Netanyahu's efforts to form
Israeli government go down to wire


Bond rout rattles
all assets


Facebook's Sandberg speaks
at husband's memorial


Almost 40,000 flee Burundi
amid political crisis: U.N.


Five Ukrainian serviceman killed in
past 24 hours in east: Ukraine military


EU's top diplomat says destabilized
Russia in nobody's interest


Philippines, Japan coast
guards hold anti-piracy drills


Somali Islamist militants shoot
government official dead in Mogadishu


Thai army finds six more bodies near
suspected human trafficking camp


Inmarsat's GlobalXpress being used
in Nepal ahead of global launch


German police detain four over
planned attacks on Muslims, refugees


Top EU official confident
of Britain's future in bloc


Turkish electoral body rejects
Kurdish complaint against Erdogan


King's changes make Saudi
policy less predictable


Arsonists carry out new attack
on German asylum-seekers' refuge


Germanwings co-pilot
practiced before crash: Bild


Police officer dies after
shooting in north Idaho


Michigan voters reject $1.9
billion road repair measure


Prince to perform in Baltimore
in wake of black man's death


Pakistan army accuses India of
backing terrorism in rare rebuke


Afghan judge sentences four to
death for mob killing of woman


U.S. envoy to India says worried
by activist, charity clampdown


Aid agencies warn fuel shortages
may end their work in Yemen


As millennials reach parenthood,
fund managers bet on 'burbs


Warplanes strike Yemen's Saada
and Hajja provinces: residents


Obama expected to push for Gulf
missile defense at U.S. summit


U.S. public pensions outperform
in first quarter: Wilshire


Staten Island prosecutor declares victory
in congressional special election


Drought forces California into
first mandatory rules to save water


U.S. aims to make Iran nuclear deal
immune to Russian, Chinese veto


Drought-plagued California adopts first
mandatory water conservation rules


U.S. Air Force says may revisit
rocket plan if firms do not respond


Gang boss from troubled Mexican
state to be extradited to U.S.


Senate Republicans pass budget
plan, eye Obamacare repeal


Clinton courts Latinos in Nevada,
urges path to citizenship


Man accused of killing UVA student
could now face death penalty


Uber ceases Kansas operations
in face of stricter oversight


Guinea opposition agrees to meet
with president amid protests


Charlie Hebdo is honored in New
York under increased security


Iran, powers toil to overcome
divisions in nuclear talks: envoys


Senator says sees Iran nuclear
bill vote as soon as Thursday


Last chance for Cameron and Miliband
to break UK election deadlock


Two Tanzanian U.N. peacekeepers
killed in Congo ambush


Colorado's ACLU says two black
men were victims of police bias


Senate clears way for vote
on Iran nuclear review bill


U.S. presidential hopeful
Sanders: Break up the big banks


Video shows Rwandan peacekeepers
shooting protesters in Mali - sources


Exclusive: U.S. boosts bird flu
emergency funds as Hormel cuts jobs


Obama administration approves
Cuba ferry service licenses


Republican Huckabee appeals to
working class in launching 2016 bid


N.Y. jury, after citing deadlock, retires
with no verdict in Etan Patz case


Chicago asks school teachers to
take 7 percent pay cut: union


Macedonian protesters demand resignation
of cabinet, clash with police


N.Y. jury deadlocks again but judge
orders back to work in 1979 child murder


Texas Senate passes measure to cut
insurance payments for abortions


Two rockets fired into Baghdad's
heavily fortified 'Green Zone'


California asks court to block
prisoner's sex-reassignment surgery


Hezbollah says will attack
Nusra Front inside Syria


Georgia sheriff refuses to talk
to police about shooting death


Northern Ireland police boost
security before UK general election


Elder Boston bomber was cruel,
dominating, witnesses testify


Colorado movie massacre gunman
booby-trapped home with bombs, trial hears


Thousands of Seattle teachers to hold
one-day walkout over pay, class sizes


Merkel says her coalition "working
very well" despite spying row


Republican Mike Huckabee launches
presidential bid with fiery speech


In Baltimore, U.S. attorney general
pledges to help police reform


U.S. right to use cell phone
location data in Florida case: court


Pope Francis to meet Cuban President
Castro privately on Sunday


Clinton to call for 'path to
citizenship' for undocumented immigrants


UK's Labour 1 point ahead of Conservatives
before Thursday election: Survation poll


U.S. wants a UN team to lay blame
for Syria gas attacks: diplomats


Moldova seeks to solve
riddle of missing $1 billion


Cambodia urged to be tougher on child sex
crimes after U.S. abuser lived freely


Firms could record some phone calls
without consent under California bill


U.S. probing Islamic State claims
it was behind Texas cartoon attack


Obama nominates new top
U.S. military officers


Exclusive: U.S. approves $330 million
for bird flu outbreak in poultry


Niger removes 4,000 Nigerian
refugees from Lake Chad island


U.S., allies conduct 13 air strikes in
Syria, Iraq against Islamic State: coalition


Greece blows hot and cold in
race to avert cash crunch


Congo army says kills 16 Ugandan
rebels, loses four soldiers


New York judge orders deadlocked jury to try
again in murder trial tied to 1979 missing boy


French lawmakers back easy-spying
bill in counterterror move


Islamic State claims responsibility
for Texas cartoon exhibit attack


Turkey's Kurdish opposition accuse
Erdogan of breaching constitution


Real-life Star Trek 'replicator'
prepares meal in 30 seconds


Senate Republicans determined to
move on fast track trade bill


Ohio man arrested in Florida
after 56 years on run


Senator Wyden says lawmakers
should move on fast track trade


Labor Dept to unveil
proposed overtime pay rules


Presidential candidate Fiorina
defends Hewlett-Packard tenure


What's in a name? Cuban cigars
plant legal seeds for U.S. future


New York holds special congressional
election to replace Grimm


Spying row wrecks harmony in
Merkel's right-left coalition


Britain could face second election
before Christmas, warns deputy PM


Widow's friends say elder Boston
bomber was cruel and controlling


Hezbollah clashes with Nusra
Front on Lebanon-Syria border


Yemen talks May 17 could
bolster anti-Houthi alliance


France's Le Pen disowns
daughter after party suspension


Syrian barrel bomb attacks are
'crimes against humanity': Amnesty


EU says seeking closer security
cooperation with China


Attorney general visits Baltimore
after charges in Gray case


Saudi king says setting up center to
coordinate Yemen humanitarian work


U.S. Secretary of State makes
surprise visit to Somali capital


Greece steps up diplomacy
to avert cash crunch


Cleveland police officer's trial
on fatal shootings nears end


Forty migrants reported drowned in
Mediterranean: Save the Children


Pocket-sized fingerprint scanner
could solve healthcare bottleneck


New self-cleaning paint offers
stain and damage-free future


U.N. envoy says invited Syria
opposition fighters to Geneva talks


French fighter jets find
takers in a worried world


India to sign port deal with Iran,
ignoring U.S. warning against haste


France, Saudi Arabia: Iran nuclear deal
must be verifiable, no threat to region


Burundi's top court says president
can run again, angering protesters


Local al Qaeda claims February murder
of U.S. citizen in Bangladesh: SITE


Central African Republic militias
agree to free child soldiers: U.N.


Los Angeles sues Wells Fargo,
alleges unlawful conduct: LA Times


China prosecutors investigate
former investment boss for graft


Second suspected human trafficking
camp found in Thai south


Somalia Islamists storm Puntland
police station, kill three: police


Rwanda says alarmed by Burundi unrest
as refugees stream across border


Execution of Pakistan death row
convict stayed in dispute over age


Suspected cattle rustlers kill 45
in northwest Kenya: administrator


Thai king leaves hospital to attend
coronation anniversary event


Shanghai bans leaders'
family members from business


Costa Rica international airport to
reopen Tuesday after volcano ash cleared


Bad weather disrupts links with
avalanche-hit Nepal village


Mike Huckabee looks to social
conservatives to power 2016 bid


Cisco looks to salesman
Robbins for tech leadership


Oregon lawmakers pass expanded
gun background check bill


Shift in U.S. federal solar funding
needed for large-scale deployment: report


U.N. says apprehended Sudan intel
officer after attack near Abyei


China military says army yet
to fully embrace rule of law


New York chef Anthony, Blue Hill
restaurant win James Beard awards


China says Philippines
violating South China Sea code


China says Indian prime
minister to visit next week


Sheryl Sandberg's husband Goldberg died
after hotel gym accident: official


Strong earthquake hits near Papua
New Guinea, no reports of damage


Earthquake of magnitude 7.5 hits
near Papua New Guinea: USGS


U.S. calls for speedy
inquiry into Thai mass grave


NYPD officer shot in head dies, commissioner
cites historic anti-police sentiment


No bomb found at Georgia's Clayton
State University after threat


Fed's Yellen says met firm
at heart of leak probes


Obama to name Marine general to
become top U.S. military officer


Saudi Arabia replaces
head of royal ceremonies


SurveyMonkey's Goldberg died from head
injury in Mexico treadmill accident


Five U.S. aircraft landed at
wrong airports since 2012: NTSB


Bill Clinton defends charity,
says won't give up paid speeches


Clinton willing to testify
once to Benghazi panel -lawyer


Police search for Missouri man accused
of holding woman captive in box


Former HP CEO Fiorina enters
2016 race, takes shot at Clinton


Britain can't impose its
agenda on EU: Juncker


Baltimore police say man's gun
discharged during arrest, no injuries


NY's Giuliani to El Salvador:
Annihilate gangs to boost security


Family urges charges for Cleveland
officer who fatally shot boy


Obama says inequality facing minority
men behind unrest in Baltimore, Ferguson


Baltimore police deny report they
shot man, Fox News apologizes


Boston bomber's brother voiced
a 'rage of hatred,' court hears


Gunman in Mohammad cartoon attack
in Texas monitored for years


Cisco veteran Robbins to take
over as CEO from Chambers


Retired surgeon Carson slams 'slick politicians'
in 2016 U.S. presidential bid launch


SurveyMonkey CEO Goldberg
died at hotel gym


Nigeria?s Boko Haram in disarray
as government forces advance


Human spirit, humor shine through
at Colorado movie massacre trial


Wisconsin man opens fire on family
after fight with girlfriend


Poll suggests Britons more
likely to vote to stay in EU


Georgia-based Clayton State University
evacuated after bomb threat: report


New York Senate leader Skelos,
son charged with corruption


Judge upholds life sentence for
Chicago man imprisoned as teen


Ex-Christie aide, ally plead not
guilty in N.J. 'Bridgegate' scandal


Florida man injured after falling
from bridge while changing tire


New York police officer shot in
head dies of injuries: newspaper


Iraqi forces plead for help as
Islamic State closes in on refinery


U.S. warships accompany British commercial
vessels in Strait of Hormuz: Pentagon


Britain's new princess named
Charlotte Elizabeth Diana


GE ties up with Qualcomm, Apple
in new lighting business bet


U.S. appeals court skeptical on
Arizona sheriff's immigration lawsuit


Around 7,000 Europe-bound migrants rescued,
baby girl born on Italian navy ship


Stocks gain on factory
data, bund yields rise


Baltic military shadow-boxing
said to reach Cold War levels


Police raid home of gunman in
Mohammad cartoon attack in Texas


Afghan talks agree on reopening
Taliban political office


Supreme Court hands win to Barclays
over $4 billion in Lehman assets


Texas will have enough power to
meet demand this summer: ERCOT


Justices seek U.S. government's
views on Colorado marijuana law


U.S. top court rules against
homeowner over bankruptcy appeal


Togo's Gnassingbe sworn in as
dynasty extends its lengthy rule


Saudi-led alliance mulls partial
truces in Yemen: statement


Boston bomber's cousin recalls
Tsarnaev as 'very kind' child


Taliban, Afghan representatives
talk ceasefire but fail to agree


Supreme Court to review U.S.
electricity market efficiency rule


Buffett defends core holdings
like IBM, Coca-Cola, in interview


Georgia sheriff critically
injures woman in shooting: police


Kerry holds talks on security,
al Shabaab threat in Kenya


John Chambers steps
down as Cisco's CEO


Police shoot dead two gunmen at Texas
exhibit of Prophet Mohammad cartoons


Merkel defends German
intelligence cooperation with NSA


Kerry heading to Middle East
this week -State Department


NATO starts anti submarine exercise in
North Sea as tension with Russia rise


Burundi activist says two dead
in protests; no police comment


Bill Clinton says nothing 'sinister'
in foreign donations to foundation


Seeking global role, China
presses Europe in diplomatic push


Ethiopian protests draw
attention to racism in Israel


German data lead Europe shares
higher, dollar steadies


Pension, labor disputes dog
Greek talks as cash dwindles


Facebook opens Internet.org to
developers amid open web debate in India


Former U.S. President Clinton: nothing
'sinister' about foundation donations


Alberta's possible pivot to the
left alarms Canadian oil sector


Friend of Boston bomber due back in
court as penalty phase continues


Malaysia's Najib faces
leadership test in by-elections


Italian PM Renzi promises more
reform once electoral law passes


Army officer reported hurt in Damascus
suicide bombing; army denies it


China April HSBC PMI shows biggest
drop in factory activity in a year


Suicide bomber targets Afghan
civil servants' bus in Kabul


Two U.N. peacekeepers wounded by
Syria mortars on Golan Heights


France, Qatar sign $7 billion
Rafale warplane, missile deal


Israeli guards shoot Palestinian
attacker in Jerusalem: police


Protests flare for second week
over Burundi president's vote bid


Senior Syrian army officer wounded
in rebel attack in Damascus: monitor


China lodges protest with U.S.
after religious freedom report


Finland's likely next PM seeks
deal with euro-skeptical The Finns


Gunmen attack school in
Pakistan, one dead: police


Thai police arrest Rohingya man
suspected of running deadly jungle camp


Suicide bomber blows himself
up in heart of Damascus - army


Gangnam Style: South Korea set to
demolish slum in shadows of Seoul glitz


Indonesian regency separates sexes
in schools, next up motorbikes


Win or lose, Cameron's political
career hangs by a thread


About 100 bodies found in
Nepal trekking village


Greece aims for deal with lenders,
IMF hard on reforms: minister


China's Xi calls for 'equal'
political talks with Taiwan


Philippines says Islamist
militant was killed by followers


Four killed in shooting on Wisconsin
foot bridge, including suspect


South Korea urges North to
release its detained citizens


Earthquake rattles New
Zealand's South Island: USGS


Australian police defend involvement
in Indonesia execution case


Two gunmen shot dead at
Islam art show near Dallas


Justice Department to boost disclosure
of cellphone tracking programs: WSJ


Senate panel raises privacy concerns
in White House hacking incident


Texans, put down your guns and
pick up guitars: rally organizer


Minor earthquake rattles
greater Los Angeles area


Parents of slain Pennsylvania
trooper forgive accused killer


New York City man charged in
shooting of police officer


Carson tells TV station he'll seek
Republican presidential nomination


North Korea's titular head of state to
visit Moscow instead of Kim Jong Un


Mounted police charge Ethiopian-Israeli
anti-racism protesters


Exclusive: GM set to storm
India as Korea costs climb


Italy says 10 migrants die,
5,800 rescued in ongoing mission


Airliner diverted to UAE airbase
after blast warning: news agency


Greece cites progress in talks with
EU/IMF lenders, aims for May deal


Baltimore lifts curfew imposed
after unrest, relieving many


Two men arrested by North Korea
say they spied for South: CNN


Three rescued eight days after
Nepal quake as U.S. Marines arrive


Man charged with attempted murder in
shooting of New York City policeman


Small earthquake shakes
Los Angeles region


Islamic State hit with 19 air
strikes by U.S., allies: statement


Baltimore mayor lifts curfew,
saying no longer needed


Freed Nigerian women tell of
horror of Boko Haram captivity


Boehner says Hillary Clinton should
support White House on trade


Progress toward peace talks unclear
as Taliban, Afghan figures meet



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