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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 Oct 1, 2014, 10:12 am (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Nobel Laureates condemn South
Africa visa denial to Dalai Lama

Defiant Hong Kong protesters
demand leader steps down

German defense crisis puts potential
Merkel successor in hot seat

U.S. health experts in Dallas
reviewing potential Ebola exposure

Brookfield wins auction for
bankrupt Revel Casino: sources

Republican Baker pulls even with
Democrat in Massachusetts governor race

At least 10 killed in shelling of
school and mini-van in Ukraine

Kenya sentences two Iranians for
using fake Israeli passports

Japanese rescuers find more
dead on volcano, toll at 47

British PM Cameron tries to shrug off
Europe schism with tax cut pledge

Special Report: In foreign hands,
British automakers overtake France

Britain's Hill starts
ordeal in EU parliament

Turkey mulls military action
against Islamic State

Japan volcano death toll rise
to 48, worst in 88 years

Heavyweight South African state
union demands 15 percent pay rise

An environmentalist's calculated
push toward Brazil's presidency

Somali-American man faces
sentencing in Oregon bomb plot

Britain drops terrorism charges
against vocal ex-Guantanamo inmate

Taliban bomb Afghan army
vehicles in Kabul, seven dead

Ackman's Pershing Square raises
$3 billion in fund listing

Russia sees chance of six-party
talks on North Korea resuming

New Polish PM signals cautious
approach on euro accession

Former Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic
accuses prosecutors of lying

Shells hit school playground and nearby street
in Ukraine city, four killed: eyewitnesses

Nigeria's campaigning president says
'turning tide' against Islamists

Coalition jets strike Islamic State
near Turkish border: Kurdish sources

Europe schism casts pall over
British PM Cameron's big day

Gunmen wound Saudi policeman in
Shi'ite Muslim stronghold: agency

Exclusive: India set to run out of
critical free drug for HIV/AIDS program

U.S. embassy issues warning
after clashes in Myanmar

Pennsylvania trooper shot
dead during gun training

Syria-linked militants release
Lebanese soldier: sources, media

In attack by al Qaeda, lines blur
between Pakistan's military, militants

U.S. sends 'Ironhorse' tanks to
NATO's nervous Baltic front line

Indonesia inaugurates parliament
likely to curb Widodo's reforms

Asian factories slow in September,
push inflation ever lower

Two drivers hit 10-year-old
girl in Seattle, speed away

Mayor of Los Angeles suburb
of Bell Gardens shot dead

Australian aircraft to support
U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq: PM

Egypt offers military training to
Libya, cites Islamic State threat

Amid differences, Israel's Netanyahu to
seek reassurances from Obama on Iran

Idaho polygamous sect member gets
90 days on child injury charges

Hong Kong democracy protesters and
officials mark uneasy National Day

Australia passes security law,
raising fears for press freedom

Taliban bombs kill at least seven
in Afghan capital: officials

U.S. orders airlines to replace cockpit
displays on 1,300 Boeing airplanes

Advocates file petition to
legalize marijuana in Mississippi

Mexico conservative party leader
Madero stands down temporarily

Exclusive: U.S. to pay $300 million to end
Brazil cotton trade dispute - officials

Traveler from Liberia is first
Ebola patient diagnosed in U.S.

Former TSA officer accused of
secretly recording female co-worker

Self-defense disputed at close of
Florida trial over loud music shooting

Tennessee may appeal order to
disclose names of execution team

Texas woman sentenced to 60 years
in 'black widow' murder case

Brazil's Rousseff widens lead
over Silva in fresh polls

California bans political fundraising
parties at lobbyists' homes

Hong Kong protests approach
potential National Day flashpoint

U.S. judge dismisses Republican
challenge to SEC pay-to-play rule

California governor signs 'gun
violence restraining order' law

White House moves to deal
with child migrant issue

Jailbreak in Washington state
goes unnoticed for two days

Colorado movie theater massacre
trial may be televised, judge rules

Self-defense in Florida loud music
shooting disputed as trial closes

Brooklyn science teacher charged
with sexually abusing students

Reward offered for 'AK-47
Bandit' over U.S. bank robberies

Canada murder trial hears of
body parts in mailed parcels

Florida to mail out $200 million in
college refunds, week before election

First Ebola case diagnosed
in the United States: CDC

FCC considering move to
ban NFL Redskins team name

Pipe bombs found by police tracking
Pennsylvania ambush suspect

U.S. home-schooling group
criticizes Sandy Hook panel report

Avalanche in southern Chile
kills Canadian, Swedish climbers

Judge accepts guilty plea in
U.S. embassy bombing case

U.S. warns South Sudan: Strike a
peace deal or face U.N. sanctions

New York mayor orders higher
minimum wage for thousands in city

U.S. restaurant patrons support
minimum wage hike: survey

U.S. says wants Syria's Assad out
despite focus on Islamic State

Eurocontrol seeks more info
sharing for airspace safety

Boxes of body parts, pink paper were
sent to schools, Canada trial told

Wave of attacks in Shi'ite
parts of Baghdad kill 35

Obama, Modi work to deepen
improving U.S.-India ties

Lightning, rain fail to deter
resolute Hong Kong protesters

CDC experts to deploy to Texas
if patient has Ebola: official

Murder charges dropped over California
prosecutor's tryst with criminalist

OAS asks Latin American member states
to take in Guantanamo detainees

Georgia woman gets 30-year prison
term in daughter's malnutrition death

Olympic swimming champ Phelps
arrested on drunken driving charge

Student injured in shooting at
Kentucky high school: officials

Grandmother of girl killed by Detroit
police said they 'came to kill'

California becomes first U.S.
state to ban plastic grocery bags

At least 25 killed in attacks in Shi'ite
parts of Baghdad: police, medics

Medical industry paid billions to U.S.
physicians, hospitals in 2013: data

Colorado student protests
spread to a middle school

U.S. lawmakers rebuke Secret
Service over White House breach

Obama's BRAIN initiative
awards $46 million in grants

Accused Pennsylvania stabber
rejected by psychiatric unit: judge

Colorado court hears appeal of
worker fired for medical marijuana

Algerian militants who killed
Frenchman display fighters in video

Inmate convicted of police killing
to speak at Vermont graduation

Argentina defies U.S. court
order by depositing debt payment

Novartis ordered to face U.S.
lawsuit over doctor kickbacks

Brookfield bids for Atlantic
City's Revel Casino: WSJ

Florida loud music shooting not
accidental, shooter testifies

Miami commissioners approve
billion-dollar downtown complex

'We all thought we were going to
die': Syria shipwreck survivor

Myanmar activists demand law
to ban violence against women

Catalonia suspends formal campaign
on Spain independence vote

EU says Ireland swapped
Apple tax deal for jobs

Oklahoma suspect in beheading
death charged with murder

Human remains found at trash
collection site near Los Angeles

Kurds seize Iraq/Syria border post; Sunni
tribe joins fight against Islamic State

Potential successors to UK's Cameron
position themselves before close election

Youth's arrest in gang rape case
shows Kenya tackling 'epidemic'

California governor vetoes bill to
protect franchisees' investments

Hardline Buddhists in Myanmar, Sri
Lanka strike anti-Islamist pact

U.S. consumer confidence,
home prices show weakness

Sister of accused Boston Marathon
bombers pleads not guilty to bomb threat

Argentina deposits debt payment
in defiance of U.S. court

Iranian man executed for
heresy: rights group

Body of missing Arkansas real
estate agent found in shallow grave

Sri Lanka police stop online
media workshop: rights groups

Maine police searching for fake
cops after marijuana robbery

Bulgaria needs urgent reforms
after Sunday election: interim PM

Student shot after argument
at North Carolina high school

Secret Service chief: White House breach
unacceptable, 'will never happen again'

Energy, manufacturing to
lead Obama, Modi talks

Among Chicago's black voters,
disenchantment grows with Mayor Emanuel

Egypt's Sisi delivers economic
reforms but hurdles remain

U.S. home prices rise less than
expected in July: S&P/Case-Shiller

Indian temple 'purified' after
low-caste chief minister visits

EBay follows Icahn's advice,
plans PayPal spinoff in 2015

One person in custody after shooting
at North Carolina high school

Northern Afghans threaten to
rebel if power-sharing deal fails

U.S. strikes help Iraq Kurds, army
advances against Islamic State

China announces date for
key Communist Party meeting

U.S. signs pact to keep troops
in Afghanistan past 2014

EBay to spin
off PayPal

North Korea proposes Japan
abduction talks in Pyongyang

Myanmar confirms controversial
Rohingya plan at United Nations

China's Confucius Institute regrets
closure of University Of Chicago center

Afghan, U.S. officials sign
long-awaited security deal

Special Report: Islamic State uses
grain to tighten grip in Iraq

China launches media campaign to
back genetically modified crops

Egyptian court jails 68
Muslim Brotherhood supporters

Euro zone inflation slows in
September, weakens euro versus dollar

Hong Kong protesters stockpile
supplies, fear fresh police advance

EU must put up resources for
Mediterranean rescues: Amnesty

All aboard the 'Corruptour' for a
glimpse of Mexico's graft

Vanguard, BlackRock may reap
billions from Pimco after Gross exit

British European Union exit 'wouldn't
break my heart', PM Cameron says

Rights group urges Europe to press
Thai leader on rights on Italy trip

Online abuse of women in Pakistan
turns into real-world violence

Ukraine prosecutor opens criminal
case against Russian officials

AEG asks for more time to lure pro
football team back to Los Angeles

Iran to give military grant
to Lebanese army: official

China OKs iPhone 6 sale after
Apple addresses security concerns

Afghans prepare to sign deal with
U.S. allowing troops to stay

U.S. courts deny trafficking
victims lost wages: study

Botched customs upgrade cuts
off Congo's second city

Exclusive: U.S., Brazil close to
ending cotton trade rift - sources

U.S.-led air strikes pose problem
for Assad's moderate foes

Indonesia's leader races to save
direct elections and his legacy

South Korea sightseeing ship
runs aground, 110 rescued

Thai tourism minister wants wristbands
for tourists, party curfews

Texas hospital puts possible
Ebola patient in isolation

Recovery of Japan volcano victims
suspended amid signs of rising activity

Pimco staff 'frantic and sad' in
wake of Bill Gross sudden exit

Australian police charge man over funding
'terrorist organization' after raids

China regulator approves Apple's
iPhone 6 for sale in China

Israel PM tries to shift focus
from Islamic State to Iran at U.N

White substance in envelope at
Reagan Library causes security scare

Texas jury convicts woman of
murder in 'black widow' trial

Flat roofs no longer required on L.A.
skyscrapers as city repeals rule

Fence-jumper ran through much
of main floor of White House

Protest over contract award to
delay work on NASA space taxi

Secret Service director faces
grilling over security breaches

Parents of autistic Pennsylvania
boy charged in starvation death

New York lawyers charged with
bribing court employee for clients

Woman pleads not guilty to
20-year-old South Carolina kidnapping

Texas jury starts deliberations
in ?black widow? murder trial

Australian counter-terrorism
police raid Melbourne properties

Truck driver in deadly Oklahoma crash
did not take evasive action: official

Deer hunters allowed in
Pennsylvania woods despite manhunt

Global wildlife populations
down by half since 1970: WWF

U.S. judge holds Argentina in
contempt over bond payment plan

U.S. FAA says reviewing contingency
plans, security polices after fire

Judge recommends six officers be
fired from New York jail for beating

India's Modi promises U.S. CEOs a
return to market reforms

Italy's Renzi wins party
vote on labor reform

Man opens fire during Ethiopian
Embassy protest in Washington

U.S. Supreme Court votes 5-4 to
delay start of early Ohio voting

Israeli cargo ship heads for L.A.
to unload after Oakland protest

Bond set for South Carolina House
speaker in official misconduct case

Kuwait revokes citizenship
of opposition activist

Former Philadelphia sportscaster
pleads guilty to fraud counts

Man accused in Chicago air traffic
disruption appears in court

Spurred by Ferguson, Chicago families
want police shootings reviewed

Congress vote on campaign against
Islamic State could lag to 2015

Massachusetts officials
probing death of skydiving duo

Argentina says US contempt sanctions
over debt would be illegal

Spanish drug trafficker sentenced
in Miami to 150 years in prison

Jury selection begins in Arias
penalty phase retrial in Arizona

Suspect in missing Virginia
student linked to a 2009 case: TV

Police probe Miami nightclub shooting
where teens, children wounded

Missouri man alleging sexual abuse by
priest seeks $10 million from diocese

Pennsylvania baby shot in head
in apparent hunting accident

Victim in Florida loud music shooting
was in defensive position, court told

New York City to end solitary
confinement for teens at Rikers jail

Texas doctor given 10 years in
jail for poisoning lover's coffee

Teacher 'sick-outs' stop classes at
two protest-hit Colorado schools

Protesters stay out on Hong
Kong streets, defying Beijing

James Foley photo removed from
anti-Islamic bus ads in New York

Spanish court suspends
Catalonia independence vote

Baltimore row house collapses,
trapping one person

New documents show legal basis
for NSA surveillance programs

Colorado, CDC probing 10 cases of
virus-related paralysis in kids

Report of shots fired near
Ethiopian embassy in Washington

Students 'biggest losers' in
Atlanta cheating case: prosecutor

U.S., Kurds strike at
Islamic State in Syria

Arsonist suspected in up to
23 blazes in Washington state

Israel's Netanyahu: Iran poses
greater threat than Islamic State

Toyota to recall 690,000 Tacoma
vehicles in U.S. to fix suspension

California community colleges
to offer baccalaureate degrees

UAW, two German labor groups
link to organize VW in Tennessee

Prosecutors call Karadzic 'driving
force' behind Bosnian genocide

Man admits to killing, pleads not
guilty, in Canada dismemberment trial

Ukrainians say Russian troops
captured them in east Ukraine

Five in critical condition after
Dutch stunt truck accident

U.S. says strike aimed at Syria
vehicles adjacent to grain storage

Jailed Azeri activist
awarded human rights prize

Belgium launches its biggest
Islamist extremist trial

South Sudan bus crash kills
at least 32, mainly Ugandans

Collision delays Suez
Canal traffic: sources

Supreme Court meets to consider
taking gay marriage cases

German government condemns
pictures showing refugees abused

Deaths linked to GM
ignition-switch defect rise to 23

U.S. pending home sales fall
more than expected in August

Obama says misread Islamic State;
Qaeda warns of attacks on West

U.S. bankruptcy judge allows
Detroit water shutoffs to continue

Italian PM Renzi takes on
left over labor reform

Modi orders Indian officials to
clean loos on Gandhi's birthday

Former Washington Post editor Ben
Bradlee in hospice care: wife

Repeal law punishing gay sex with lashes
in Indonesia's Aceh, says Amnesty

Bulgaria election frontrunner
open to talks with other parties

North Las Vegas house fire
kills 20 dogs, 70 rescued: TV

Spanish diplomat found stabbed to
death at home in Khartoum: police

Spanish government asks court to
declare Catalonia vote illegal

Afghanistan to sign U.S.
security agreement on Tuesday

Party of Indonesia president-elect
denied parliament speaker role

Putin to attend EU-ASEM summit
in Milan next month: diplomats

NATO's planned Balkan expansion
a 'provocation': Russia's Lavrov

Seven Ukrainian soldiers killed in
rebel attack, straining ceasefire

U.S. envoy says North Korea
rejects talks on prisoners

U.S. may keep secret prisoners
in custody after Afghan war exit

German captives plead to be set
free in southern Philippines

Four arrested in French
opposition party funding probe

Bangladesh arrests Briton for
suspected Islamic State recruitment

Pimco moving away from
Bill Gross model, CEO says

Afghanistan swears in new
leader amid dispute, violence

India arrests 140 for religious
clashes as Modi tours U.S.

U.S-led raids hit grain silos
in Syria, kill workers: monitor

Lenovo says $2.1 billion IBM x86
server deal to close on Wednesday

At least 36 feared dead on Japanese
volcano, search called off

Radical Myanmar monk joins
hands with Sri Lankan Buddhists

Blast near airport in Afghan capital,
some casualties - Reuters witness

Parade marks Thai PM's transition to
civilian, army keeps grip on power

As Missouri protests persist, police seek
suspects in shootings of two officers

Philippines, U.S. begin military
exercises near disputed seas

New Jersey hospital CEO, wife
found dead in house fire

Japan resumes search for
victims of volcanic eruption

Pimco sees $10 billion in
withdrawals after Gross exit: WSJ

Indiana State University student
arrested in campus shooting

China sentences two to death
for killing of pro-Beijing imam

FAA wants to restore Chicago
air traffic site by mid-October

Obama: U.S. intelligence
underestimated militants in Syria- CBS

Obama voices confidence Democrats
can keep control of U.S. Senate

Man in custody following deaths
of woman, girl: Chicago police

U.S. trade pact in spotlight as
new EU Commission faces grilling

Cubans convicted along with
Canadians in corruption case

UK's Osborne launches Conservative
election pitch with pension tax cut

Militants kill 20 in two
separate Yemen attacks: sources

Hong Kong police use tear gas,
but protesters remain on streets

Brussels to accuse Apple over
illegal Irish tax deals: FT

Britain to convene all-party talks
to resolve Northern Ireland deadlock

Historic, anxious handover as
Afghanistan swears in new leader

Once-banned Indian leader woos
diaspora at giant New York rally

Hong Kong activists defy police
tear gas as protests spread

Harris says working 24/7 to
restore Chicago FAA site

Police catch last of 13 boys who
escaped from Tennessee detention center

At least 18 killed in shootings
and clashes in Mexico

Air strikes said to hit Islamic
State oil refineries in Syria

France's far-right grabs
first ever Senate seats

Rwanda court's forgotten men pose
challenge to international justice

Pakistani opposition keeps up
pressure on prime minister to resign

U.S. lawmakers urge congressional
action to back Obama's Syria war

Militant car bomb targets Houthi
base in Yemen, 15 dead: sources

One teenager dead, three
injured in New York stabbings

Al Qaeda figure killed by U.S.
strike in Syria: monitoring group

Brazil's evangelicals gain clout,
close to electing first president

Shooting at Miami club leaves 15
hurt, including 11-year-old: police

At least eight killed in
earthquake in southern Peru

Yemen car bomb targets Houthi base,
dozens of casualties: sources

Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters
defiant as police use tear gas

Italy PM Renzi attacks establishment
resistance, vows to press on

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