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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 Nov 28, 2014, 8:42 pm (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
St. Louis-area mall closes on Black
Friday as Ferguson protests spread

Hong Kong protesters clash with
police after new clampdown

U.S. Black Friday shopping marked
by thinner crowds, protests

Former Ravens running back Ray Rice
wins appeal, is eligible for NFL

Lawsuit accuses Wells Fargo of
biased lending in Chicago area

Taliban battle Afghan forces
at Helmand's Camp Bastion

Bombs, gunfire kill 81 at
crowded mosque in Nigeria's Kano

New York State blocks free
medical services at event

Arizona man who visited Sierra Leone
hospitalized over Ebola concerns

Ferguson police block cleanup
brigade from entering damaged area

Man dies after shooting at Mexican
consulate, other sites in Texas capital

Judge orders Wal-Mart to let
NYC church challenge gun sales

Three foreign workers kidnapped
in Nigeria's delta region

Man loses legs in Exxon Baton Rouge
refinery incident: local media

Street clashes erupt as Hong Kong
police crack down on protesters

Christmas tree arrives
at White House

Russian submarine test-launches
Bulava intercontinental missile

Pope condemns 'barbaric
violence' of Islamic State

Cosby said he blocked 2005 tabloid
story about sex-assault accuser

Putin to push trade in Turkey
despite disagreement on Syria

Dutch lawmakers demand explanation
from Turkey over race spat

U.N. watchdog urges Venezuela to
investigate torture allegations

Three dead in attack and
Islamist protests in Egypt

U.N. torture watchdog urges U.S.
crackdown on police brutality

Spain's poll-topping Podemos tones
down radical plans in manifesto

Ferguson protesters plan to clean
up damaged store guarded by police

Police kill man after suspected
political attack in Texas capital

Europe's space-based, laser-powered
data highway passes early test

Inside OPEC room, Naimi declares
price war on U.S. shale oil

Would-be Moldova election kingmaker
flees country ahead of Sunday polls

China probes 'five networks' of disgraced
ex-security chief: People's Daily

Two dead in Egypt violence
and Islamist protests

Fifteen Islamic State targets hit by
U.S., allies since Wednesday: U.S.

Black Friday shopping crowds
thin after Thanksgiving rush

Gunmen bomb and shoot at mosque
worshippers in north Nigeria's Kano

Pope urges solidarity to stop
aggressors in Syria and Iraq

Texas police kill man who
fired at Austin buildings

Croatia PM cancels Belgrade trip
over freeing of war crimes suspect

Namibia's ruling party seen winning
Africa's first electronic vote

German support for sanctions
on Russia rise, poll finds

Abu Dhabi crown prince in Qatar to
seal reconciliation before summit

Struggle over Libya's oil risks
breaking up country: rival PM

Global air ticket fraud
sweep nets 118 arrests

Exclusive: Indian Essar's planned
oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions

Jail term of over four years sought
for German Islamic State suspect

Cameroon frees Central African
rebel chief Miskine for hostages

Cameron tells EU: let us curb
migrant welfare, or risk UK leaving

Offer Israeli Arabs money to move
to Palestinian state: Lieberman

India says no contact with 39 men
held by Islamic State in Iraq

Japan military chief urges early
'crisis management' pact with China

Army brigadier general shot
dead in Cairo suburb: sources

NATO unconcerned by Russian
warships in English Channel

Czechs raise security after
ministers get poison by mail

Special Report: Why Italy's stay-home
shoppers terrify the euro zone

WHO advises male Ebola
survivors to abstain from sex

EU plans to streamline but
not change key budget rules

Japan may expand air bag recalls;
worried about impact on industry

Russian warships enter English
Channel for drills: RIA

Syria denies targeting civilians, tells
U.S. to criticize militants instead

ECB's Nouy says banks must
show they can make profits

Nepal devotees sacrifice thousands
of animals in Hindu ritual

China writer goes on trial for media
censorship protest after long delay

Protesters target Black
Friday sales in Ferguson

Exclusive: Obama plan to 'Power
Africa' gets off to a dim start

Japan inflation slows in October,
highlights challenge facing Abe

Let us curb welfare for migrants or
risk British EU exit: UK's Cameron

Extra trespass charges for Germans who
face caning for Singapore graffiti

North Korea's 'princess' moves
closer to center of power

New Burkina PM vows investigations
into Compaore-era deaths

UK PM Cameron to set out curbs
on EU migrants ahead of election

Calm comes to troubled Ferguson;
protests dwindle across U.S.

Mexico president vows police reform
in bid to quell massacre anger

Pope to urge tolerance in Turkey
visit as Middle East wars rage

Shades of Ferguson: family of NY
teen shot dead by cop wins lawsuit

France warns African leaders
against trying to keep power

Can man-of-the-people Widodo
micromanage 240 million Indonesians?

At least 133 killed in tribal
clashes in Sudan: tribe leader

Taliban kill five in Kabul in attacks on
British embassy car, foreign compound

Argentina charges HSBC with aiding
tax evasion via Swiss accounts

Venezuela's Machado vows to
fight assassination plot charges

Mali and rebels fail to reach
deal in third round of talks

Earthlings to send
90,000 hellos to Mars

Uruguay's Vazquez set to extend
leftist coalition's run in power

Northeast Nigeria bus station
blast kills 40 people: sources

Two civilians killed in shelling
in east Ukraine rebel city

Thankful to arrive on snowy U.S.
holiday with power out, travel delays

Myanmar constitution summit
'impractical': presidential spokesman

Tanzania PM sidesteps calls
to quit over graft claims

11 corpses dumped in same Mexico
state as apparent student massacre

Saudis block OPEC output cut,
sending oil price plunging

NATO wrestles with new fast-reaction
force prompted by Ukraine crisis

Boston Verizon FiOS subscribers
lose access to local Fox channel

U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Ginsburg released from hospital

London financier Hohn ordered to pay
wife $530 million in divorce case

Stranded Kenyan workers demand
evacuation after Islamist attack

Colombia land return program
could fail thousands: Amnesty

Dinner with Suu Kyi? - No
thanks, say Myanmar military

In Syria, desperate residents see
little hope in U.N. Aleppo truce plan

Ukraine puts on parliamentary show
of unity in message to Russia

Venezuela says 13 inmates die of
overdose after robbing infirmary ward

Saudis win case for
no OPEC output cut

Army splits that let Yemen's
capital fall augur new risks

Explosion, gunfire heard in
diplomatic quarter of Afghan capital

EU lawmakers urge regulators
to break up Google

Gulf states seek to block
OPEC oil output cut

UK media websites hacked
by Syrian Electronic Army

Burkina Faso's transitional
government to review mine permits

Ukraine's parliament elects
Yatseniuk for a new term as PM

Romania PM loses coalition
ally after election defeat

Majority of Russians believe their
troops are not fighting in Ukraine: poll

Colombia could fail thousands
in land return - Amnesty

Prince William to make first UK
royal visit to China in 30 years

Israel says foiled Hamas
plans for Jerusalem attacks

Ridesharing firm Uber
suspends operations in Nevada

Ten dead in disputed Kashmir's worst
militant attack in more than a year

Rajoy denies Spain is corrupt after
minister resigns in graft case

Portugal's detained ex-PM Socrates
rejects 'absurd' corruption charges

Thai government delays draft rubber
law amid farmers' discontent

New parliament coalition proposes
Yatseniuk stays on as PM

Iran Supreme Leader says not opposed
to extension of nuclear talks

South Asia summit salvaged after
handshake by leaders of India, Pakistan

Greece tows migrant-packed
ship to safety off Crete

Net migration to Britain surges in
blow to PM Cameron before election

Aim of sanctions not to bash Russian
economy: German foreign minister

UK strikes deal to grant Scotland
more powers to counter separatists

Iraq finance minister urges
battle against graft in military

Namibia's ruling SWAPO party
set to dominate Friday poll

Hong Kong student leaders banned
from Mong Kok protest site

Nine injured in south
China knife attack

Suicide bomber kills five in attack on
British embassy car in Kabul: officials

Myanmar's Suu Kyi woos military
lawmakers ahead of talks on constitution

EU expects stable gas supply even
as Russian shipments yet to start

Militants attack Indian base
in Kashmir region, three dead

Motorcycle suicide bomber hits British
embassy vehicle in Afghan capital

Thai court sentences five
to death in war-torn south

Greece paralyzed by major
strike, flights canceled

Low expectations for oil
output cut as OPEC meets

Australian extradited to U.S. in
Silk Road online drugs bazaar case

Yemen rescuers sought U.S.,
British hostages in raid

Toyota recalls more cars for
dangerous Takata air bags

West struggles with Russia's
'ambiguous warfare' tactics

Malaysia to retain and prop
up Sedition Act, says PM

Thai election pushed
back to 2016: deputy PM

Beijing subway, bus fares
to go up: state media

Fake doctor gets 23 years for sex
assault on 9-year-old Colorado girl

FedEx Freight workers in Louisville
vote against union membership

Pakistan under pressure to save
trade agenda at South Asia summit

U.S. judge puts Arizona's
'revenge porn' bill on hold

Exclusive - Japan eyes military aid to spur
defense exports, build security ties: sources

Young sister of North Korean leader
takes senior party post: KCNA

San Diego State fraternities halt
parties after anti-rape march fracas

East Coast storm hampers
Thanksgiving travel

Taiwan vote tests waters for pro-China
government ahead of presidential polls

Puerto Rico threatened with
transit shutdown in political spat

Special Report: How China's shadowy
agency is working to absorb Taiwan

Arizona appeals panel rules no secret
testimony in Arias murder case

Congress can block use of fees
for immigration overhaul: memo

British lawmakers urge EU to stop Sri Lanka
trade perks if UN probe not given access

Two FBI agents shot at house
near St. Louis, suspect dead

Cleveland video shows police
shot boy within seconds

Miners ask court to lift ban on
uranium mining near Grand Canyon

Venezuela to charge opposition leader
over alleged plot to kill Maduro

Mississippi football rivalry marred
by threat to campus greenery

More than 400 arrested as Ferguson
protests spread to other U.S. cities

FBI arrests man in Texas
suspected of being gang hit man

Police make arrest in $50,000
fur coat heist in Connecticut

Last of three New Jersey siblings
shot by mother dies of wounds

Convicted Texas murderer featured in
'Bernie' film gets sentencing hearing

Connecticut to offer driver's
licenses for illegal immigrants

Tensions flare between Senate
Democrats, White House

Illinois asks state's top court
to revive pension overhaul

Stigma and isolation haunt South Korean
families of convicted ferry crew

Police probe man's death in
area near Ferguson protests

Exclusive: Poor and besieged,
Myanmar's Rakhine join Rohingya exodus

Ministers from coalition against
Islamic State to meet December 3

Cheese bests Mac in quest for
Obama's Thanksgiving turkey pardon

Argentine presidential aspirant Massa
says would cut back state controls

Spanish health minister
resigns in kickback scandal

Cleveland releases video of police
shooting of 12-year-old boy

Former Rwandan rebels transferred
to Congo transit camp

Hiker took cell phone photos of bear
before fatal New Jersey mauling

Same firm, new house: Mexico leader's
conflict-of-interest storm grows

Egyptian inquiry into political
violence seeks changes to protest law

Colombia general, other FARC captives
may be free Saturday: Santos

U.S. Ebola survivors say
thankful for 'second chance'

Catalonia moves closer to early
election as dialogue hopes fade

Ultra-strong graphene's weak
spot could be key to fuel cells

Exclusive: First gene therapy drug
sets million-euro price record

Texas man dies after crashing
vehicle in parking lot stunt

Egypt plans blanket anti-terrorism
law against 'disrupting order'

Canadian celebrity radio host
charged with sexual assault: police

British brothers jailed for attending
militant training camp in Syria

U.S. regulator orders national
Takata driver-side air bag recall

Mac and Cheese beak-to-beak in
contest for Obama turkey pardon

Bulgaria charges radical imam, six
others with supporting Islamic State

U.S. government says 462,125 people
signed up for 2015 Obamacare plans

Turkey bans reporting on corruption
investigation of ex-ministers

Hungary's ruling party down in polls
over Web tax, quarrels with West

IAEA says needs more money to
monitor extended Iran nuclear deal

Time running short to rebuild
Gaza: EU representative

U.S. drone strike in Pakistan
kills five suspected militants

Islamic State targeted in 17
air strikes by U.S., allies

Russian troops giving 'backbone'
to Ukraine rebels: NATO commander

U.N. investigators urge
Obama to release CIA report

EU watchdogs to apply 'right to be
forgotten' rule on Web worldwide

Romney tops Republican poll for
'16; ahead of Clinton in election

Putin says Russia is
not a threat to anyone

Iran parliament ends standoff with Rouhani,
approves higher education minister

U.S. FAA proposes requiring
fix for Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Far-left politician a
new threat to Merkel?

Qatar runs covert desert
training camp for Syrian rebels

Algeria says killed militant
involved in French tourist beheading

U.S. consumer, business spending
data point to slowing growth

Greece fails to reach deal
in Paris over bailout exit

Cameroon army frees 16 hostages,
including Polish priest

Saudi, UAE signal no
push for OPEC oil cut

Poland says missionary held in
Central African Republic now free

WTO postpones trade deal by a
day after last-minute objection

India-Pakistan friction threatens
South Asia trade at Himalayan summit

NATO commander says Russian
forces are still in east Ukraine

Hong Kong riot police clear protest
site, arrest student leaders

UK terrorism watchdog criticizes
new security proposals

Gut check: how vultures dine
on rotting flesh, and like it

Sarkozy hopes to crush party
rivals in French come-back test

U.S. issues travel warning for
Djibouti over terror threat

National Guard, police curb Ferguson
unrest as protests swell across U.S.

Latvia sees security threat
in Russian deal with Abkhazia

Exclusive: Online protest delays
EU plan to resolve U.S. trade row

Secular France moves to confront
jihadism after slow start

Syria 'no-fly zone' not being
considered: NATO general

Israel's lurch to the right
dims two-state peace prospects

Croatia urges EU to pressure Serbia
over freed war crimes suspect

Egypt opens Rafah crossing to
stranded Palestinians bound for Gaza

Juncker unveils investment
plan to kick-start EU growth

Israeli president criticizes
divisive Jewish nation-state bill

Saudis signal no push for oil cut
as market to 'stabilize itself'

Japan reports 'unusual deployment' of
Takata air bag; may lead to more recalls

Utah agrees to drop parts of
disputed 2011 immigration law

Goldman, BASF, HSBC accused of
metals price fixing: U.S. lawsuit

Sao Tome ex-president's son
returns to prime minister's job

Police arrest 44 in second,
calmer night of Ferguson protests

Turkey condemns Tripoli air strikes
claimed by Libyan government

Exclusive: Libya's rival oil minister
wants to attend OPEC meeting

Militants kill four polio
workers in Pakistan

Zimbabwe vice president on the
brink of losing party position

Thai junta chief says has not 'damaged'
country, rights group disagrees

Protests spread across U.S., more troops
deployed to prevent fresh Ferguson riots

Russia's new push for Syria
dialogue unlikely to be fruitful

Five killed in clashes between
Houthis, Sunnis in Yemen capital

U.S. judges overturn gay marriage
bans in Arkansas, Mississippi

Romania's next president eyes
power shift within weeks

Europe feels sting in the
tail of Russia sanctions

China considers suing 'economic
fugitives' in the U.S., official says

India-Pakistan friction at summit
slows South Asia integration

Hong Kong police clear Mong Kok
protest site: Reuters witness

Australia working on new drift
modeling for MH370 wreckage

Federal judge rules Mississippi
gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Myanmar political leaders to hold
talks on amending constitution

Argentina president, back after sick
leave, vows to fight hedge funds

Coal mine accident in northern
China kills 24: Xinhua

In blow to tax negotiators,
Obama threatens veto

Australian minister apologizes
for submarine firm canoe remark

In Modi?s India, green shoots
of reform from a desert state

Domestic pressures in U.S., Iran
threaten slow-moving nuclear talks

More U.S. troops deployed in Ferguson
to guard against fresh riots

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