Weblogs
 
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 Apr 24, 2014, 4:12 am (all times Eastern US)
 
Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
Reuters News
China factory activity shrinks for
fourth month, but pace of decline slows


Divers feel with their hands for corpses
in cold depths of South Korean ferry


Pirates raid Japanese oil tanker
off Malaysia, kidnap three crew


Church deacon, fugitive in 1981
killing, arrested in Texas


U.S. to deliver Apache
helicopters to Egypt: Pentagon


Missouri execution looms after
appeals over drug secrecy fail


Washington state euthanizes 300
birds after cockfighting farm raided


Ohio man must pay $489,000 for
fake distress report: court


Colombia tribunal restores
ousted Bogota mayor


New Jersey governor's press aide
subpoenaed in 'Bridgegate' probe


Obama says disputed islands within
scope of U.S.-Japan security treaty


Arizona high court rules pot users
must be impaired for DUI charge


New Jersey police officer,
suspect wounded during drug buy


Study in Europe eclipses notion
home in the sun equals happiness


Obama visits mudslide-hit
community in Washington state


Rwandan president says he is not
ready to rule out third term


Teen who stowed away on flight
to Hawaii remains hospitalized


Comcast nears deal with Charter on
$18-$20 billion in divestitures: source


El Salvador church leaders
call for new gang truce


Damages phase of BP Gulf
spill trial set for January


Scottish leader says independence
could benefit northern England


Colorado lawmakers move to
tighten edible marijuana laws


University of New Mexico running
back arrested for rape, kidnapping


Iran denies role in Bahrain unrest,
urges respect for human rights


Iran protests at U.N. committee on
envoy ban as U.S. stands ground


U.S. panel to take on rising
prescription drug, heroin abuse


Risk of asteroid hitting Earth
higher than thought, study shows


Nine indicted in abduction of
North Carolina prosecutor's father


Florida Senator holds Miami Beach
hearing on rising sea level


Georgia joins other U.S. states
facing gay marriage lawsuits


France to unveil plan to
fight Syrian jihadist threat


Search for MH370 reveals a
military vulnerability for China


Asia tensions simmer as
Obama set to arrive in Tokyo


Egypt issues law barring
challenges to state deals


Volunteer coach found guilty Of
lying in Ohio teen party rape case


Israel encouraging more Christians
to join military service


Valeant, Ackman offer to buy Botox
maker Allergan for $47 billion


Ukraine president calls for new anti-rebel
offensive as crisis deal falters


Missouri mayor quits after anti-Semitic
remarks tied to Kansas killings


France says one of two hostages
held in Mali probably dead


'Ice Road Truckers' star kidnapped,
beat Las Vegas prostitute: police


Ivory Coast ex-rebel profiting from
banned diamond trade: U.N. experts


U.S. justices show little support
for Aereo TV in copyright fight


Bahrain sentences 12 people for
life for spying, Iran links


Senator Boozman undergoes
heart surgery in Arkansas


Syria's chemical weapons
wild card: chlorine gas


Missouri plans execution after
Oklahoma stay over drug secrecy


U.S. top court upholds Michigan
ban on college affirmative action


Planned powdered alcohol product
hits snag with U.S. regulators


U.S. urges North Korea to
refrain from new nuclear test


GM seeks U.S. court protection
against ignition lawsuits


Friend of accused Boston Marathon
bomber seeks trial venue change


Urban hero takes on establishment
in Colombia presidential race


First PLO delegation since 2007 war
arrives in Gaza for unity talks


Deadly Texas fertilizer
warehouse blast preventable: U.S


'Main Line' drug ring in Pennsylvania
nets two prep school grads


U.S. official responsible for
reforming Medicare is leaving post


South Sudan peace talks delayed
as rebels deny massacre


Novartis and GSK trade assets
as pharma industry reshapes


Libya starts voter registration
for general elections


Italy to declassify documents
on 'Years of lead' violence


Supreme Court hears challenge to
ban on 'false' campaign speech


Russia's Putin wants
beefed-up presence in Arctic


Israel must take on Palestinian
governance if talks fail: Abbas


U.S. home resales hit 1-1/2 year
low, but may be stabilizing


UK's anti-EU party launches European
election campaign amid racism row


IRS's summons power faces
test in Supreme Court


Obama, Abe under pressure to salvage
signature Pacific trade pact


Prelate exonerates John Paul of
turning blind eye to abuse case


India's Modi slams anti-Muslim
remarks, ally remains defiant


Japanese minister, MPs visit Yasukuni
Shrine on eve of Obama visit


German minister unable to meet
with Beijing critics during visit


Detroit bankruptcy judge taps
consultants for city's plan


Comcast adds video
subscribers, beats Street


No winner seen in first round
of Lebanon president vote


Uganda says Islamist rebel
leader has fled eastern Congo


U.S. backs Ukraine, warns
Russia with Biden visit


Japan has not narrowed trade
differences with U.S., negotiator says


Biden offers Kiev U.S.
help, condemns corruption


Ukraine peace deal falters as
rebels show no sign of surrender


First sign of South Korea ferry
disaster was call from a frightened boy


U.S. airlines rank lowest in
satisfaction among travel sectors: poll


Boy Scouts revoke Seattle church's
charter over gay scout leader


China's seizure of Japanese ship
has pre-World War Two roots


Submarine drone search for
Malaysian plane to continue


Wage cuts make Spain's
recovery a long, painful path


Two wounded in gunfire
near Washington, D.C., zoo


Death toll in Washington
state mudslide rises to 41


Alaska pot legalization vote
pushed back to November


Tunnel delays latest blow to
downtown Seattle revitalization


Lawyer appointed for Utah mother
accused of killing six newborns


PG&E pleads not guilty to federal
charges in deadly California blast


Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon,
first U.S. victor in decades


Jurors hear cleric?s praise
for September 11 attacks


U.S. says has indications toxic
chemical used in Syria in April


Oklahoma inmates win stay of
execution over secret lethal drugs


Ambulance response probed in NY
City fire that killed two children


Exclusive: U.S. force in Afghanistan
may be cut to less than 10,000 troops


UAW suddenly retreats from
fight at Tennessee VW plant


First U.S. drone research center
will focus on soil studies: FAA


Obama to visit site of
Washington State landslide


Court orders U.S. to release memo
on drones, al-Awlaki killing


U.S. court signals narrow bondholders
win in Argentina subpoena case


Supreme Court refuses to hear Florida
appeal over worker drug testing


Neil Eggleston to serve as
Obama's new White House counsel


U.S. to expand clemency
criteria for drug offenders


U.S. Supreme Court to review
Jerusalem birthplace law


Treasury secretary to show
'commitment' to Detroit in visit


Airbnb to appear
in court: NY Post


Meteor lights up night
sky in northern Russia


Top court declines Exxon's
appeal in water pollution case


U.S. agencies back DigitalGlobe
bid to sell sharper images


Supreme Court declines to
revive Arizona immigration law



Generated at air631