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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 2, 2016, 10:42 pm (all times Eastern US)
 
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Former FBI agent pleads guilty to
stealing $136,000 in drug proceeds


Honduras arrests four suspects
in killing of activist Caceres


Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay
$55 million in talc-powder trial


Brazil prosecutor asks for probe
of opposition leader Neves


Wrestling body revokes ex-House
Speaker Hastert's awards


Obama takes Supreme Court fight
to Republican senators' home turf


L.A. Sheriff's official
resigns over offensive emails


NATO weighs four battalions in
Eastern states to deter Russia: U.S.


Ban on Arizona Sheriff Arpaio's
workplace raids lifted: court


AIG profit misses again as
weak hedge fund returns weigh


UK's Hammond says new initiative
needed for Syria talks


Ackman defends Valeant,
hints at more changes


Texas 'Santa' pleads guilty
to child pornography charges


Argentine court probes ex-president
Fernandez over new case: media


Clinton courts Appalachian
voters to counter Trump on trade


Chicago woman sues Starbucks for
putting too much ice in drinks


Change of venue granted in trial
over Georgia child's car death


Newly discovered planets may boost
search for life beyond Earth


Ex-girlfriend can get video deposition of
Sumner Redstone in upcoming trial: judge


FBI searching Connecticut home
of man tied to Boston art heist


Chinese police to patrol in
Italy in two-week experiment


U.S. tells Pakistan it will
have to fund F-16s itself


National Guardsman arrested after
standoff at Maryland armory


Kosovo airport closes after Turkish
Airlines jet skids off runway


L.A.'s 'Grim Sleeper' murder
trial closing arguments underway


Obama administration urges Congress
to act on Puerto Rico crisis


Gun owner trying to break up fight
fatally shot in Texas parking lot


Judge hears Sandusky's petition
on child sex abuse conviction


Puerto Rico government bank misses
payment, talking with creditors


Twitter lawsuit partly dismissed
over U.S. information requests


Drink Flint water? White House
does not know if Obama will


Turkish parliament debate on
lawmakers' immunity ends in a brawl


EU executive to propose visa-free travel
for Turks on Wednesday, sources say


Brazil judge orders WhatsApp
blocked, affecting 100 million users


U.S. and Senegal sign
defense cooperation deal


U.S. top court upholds cop's
conviction in auto repair scheme


Kentucky judge temporarily bars
removal of Confederate statue


Australian says he created
bitcoin, but some skeptical


Venezuela opposition submits 1.85
million signatures in recall effort


Soldier barricaded inside armory
at Maryland National Guard site


U.S. Supreme Court rejects challenge
to Seattle minimum wage law


U.S. says Iraq's PM in 'strong
position' amid political unrest


VW, UAW officials to meet on
labor dispute at Tennessee plant


Solar-powered plane departs
California on round-the-world flight


Ecuador names Icaza
as new oil minister


New Chicago high-rise will be city's
biggest Chinese property deal


Saudi minister confirms warning
on proposed U.S. law on 9/11


FBI arrests man, thwarts
possible attack on Jewish target


Emotional return as first U.S.
cruise in decades reaches Cuba


One person killed by rocket
fire in Turkey's Kilis: source


Kerry aims to extend truce to
Syria's Aleppo as ceasefire unravels


Conservatives in Congress
urge shutdown of IRS


Baker Hughes tries to reassure
investors as Halliburton deal fails


Pakistan raps Trump over vow to free
doctor who helped track bin Laden


Uber drivers in New York
form labor association


Turkey says prevented 85 security
'incidents' since January


Israel to reopen second
crossing for trucks into Gaza


Atlantic City, N.J., avoids
default on bond payment


Prisoners revolt in Syria's Hama jail,
seize guards: Syrian Observatory


New York businesses to cut trash
by half in 'Zero Waste' plan


Clinton courts coal-country unions
with eye toward fighting Trump


Italian marine Salvatore
Girone can return home: India


Investors may have profited from
leaked U.S. data: ECB research paper


Indiana puts Donald Trump?s
evangelical support to test


Student dead after shooting at
New Jersey fraternity house


Eleven Kurdish militants killed
in southeast Turkey: military


U.S. cruise ship pulls into
Havana on historic Cuba voyage


ECB has not sought
access to Panama Papers


Still no will found for Prince as
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Bodies of famed American climbers
Lowe, Bridges found in Himalayas


Go team! Top court to hear
cheerleader uniform copyright case


Nearly 90,000 unaccompanied minors
sought asylum in EU in 2015


Ukraine energy firms turn to
arbitrator over Crimea losses


Swiss intelligence monitoring online
activity of 400 possible jihadists


Clinton begins Appalachia tour
in Trump-friendly coal country


Hague court says India should
release Italian sailor: Italy


Turkish PM loses authority over party
appointments in boost to Erdogan


Detroit public schools shut with
teachers in 'sickout' protest over pay


Second European-Russian mission
to Mars delayed to 2020


German establishment rounds on
anti-immigration party over Islam


South Korea warns of risk North
may abduct citizens abroad


Far-right crimes rise sharply
in Austria amid migrant crisis


Bombs in Baghdad kill 14,
including some Shi'ite pilgrims


China probes search engine
Baidu over student's death


Unloved Hollande
courts the French anew


Kerry sees hope of extending
truce to Syria's Aleppo


Hopes fade for survivors in Kenyan
building collapse: Red Cross


Big bargains entice Warren
Buffett fans on Berkshire weekend


Minnesota court to begin process
of unraveling Prince's fortune


Clinton, looking ahead to general
election, begins Appalachia tour


Warren Buffett says doesn't try to
profit from central bank moves: CNBC


Sluggish factory activity sets
global tone for second quarter


Denmark extends controls on
German border until June 2


Indiana to test Donald Trump?s
staying power with evangelicals


Hundreds promoting independence
detained in Indonesia's Papua


Reckitt Benckiser executive slapped in South
Korea while apologizing for deadly sterilizers


Japan to support Mekong countries
with $7 billion over three years


Australian Craig Wright says
he is bitcoin creator: BBC


ITER nuclear fusion project faces
new delay, cost overrun: Les Echos


Kerry says getting closer to an
understanding on Syria ceasefire


Drones, Turkish artillery hit Islamic
State in Syria, 34 dead: military


Kuwait freedoms make austerity
drive tricky for government


Islamic State targets struck in Syria,
34 militants killed: Turkish military


Asia's factories stay sluggish,
stimulus lacks traction


Five Seattle police injured, nine
people arrested after May Day marches


China airs two more confessions
by Taiwan fraud suspects


As oil plows through $45 a barrel,
U.S. producers rush to lock in prices


Halliburton and Baker Hughes
scrap $28 billion merger


Seattle police clash with protesters
following May Day marches


Wary of China's Indian Ocean activities,
U.S., India discuss anti-submarine warfare


South Korea revives GPS backup project
after blaming North for jamming


Brazil's Rousseff ups social
spending as Senate ruling looms


May Day rally in Los Angeles
features strong anti-Trump theme


Egyptian police raid press
syndicate, arrest two journalists


Puerto Rico declares moratorium on
Government Development Bank's debt


Derailed train in Washington leaks
hazardous chemical, disrupts rail service


Islamic State boosts attacks in
response to territorial losses: IHS


Kerry says hopes for progress on
Syria ceasefire in Geneva talks


French far-right veteran Le Pen predicts
daughter's failure in elections


Suspected Islamic State suicide bomber kills
two police in southeast Turkey: sources


Bomb attack in southeast Turkey wounds
10 troops, Kurdish militants suspected


Puerto Rico faces default as
governor plans to address island


Bergdahl defense can access
classified information, court rules


Eyeing an Indiana victory,
Trump says, 'It's over'


Cash-flush California GOP allows
chairman to seek third term


Connecticut governor honored
for welcoming Syrian refugees


'It's over,' Trump says,
eyeing victory in Indiana


Rousseff says opponents plotting
to water down Brazil labor laws


France, U.S. target Islamic
State with two strikes in Iraq


Hooded youths clash with
police in Paris over labor law


Colombia captures alleged Peruvian
drug trafficker 'Caracol'


German official denies report on
foreign policy shift on Israel


Kurdish militants claim suicide
bombing in Turkey's Bursa: website


Iraqi protesters end Green Zone
sit-in for now after issuing demands


Saudi Arabia kills two militant
suspects in southwest, arrests third


Kazakh leader evokes Ukraine
as land protests spread


Pope condemns pedophilia as details
of girl's death shock Italy


Iraqis camped out in Baghdad's
Green Zone announce withdrawal


Malia Obama headed to Harvard,
will take gap year first


Donald Trump says Republican race
all but over if he wins Indiana


Iraqi leaders struggle to break
crisis, hundreds protest in Green Zone


Turkish police fire tear gas in
Istanbul on May Day protesters


Foreign minister reaffirms
Japan's economic ties to Thailand


Labour candidate favorite for London
mayor after racially charged campaign


U2 guitarist The Edge makes history
as he rocks Sistine Chapel for cancer


Russia says talks to extend Syrian
lull in fighting to Aleppo


Freight train derails in Washington,
cars leaking hazardous chemicals


Afghan forces battle to push
Taliban from southern highway


Death toll from building
collapse in Kenya rises to 16


Yemen officials say peace talks
suspended after Houthis seize base


Anti-immigrant AfD says
Muslims not welcome in Germany


Islamic State suicide attacks
kill 32 in southern Iraq


Russia: talks taking place on including
Aleppo in Syria's 'regime of calm' - agencies


Police officers killed, dozens wounded in
attacks near Turkey's southeast border


Brexit campaign retains edge before
June's EU referendum: ICM poll


Brussels airport departure hall
reopens after deadly bombings


Islamist group al Shabaab kills
15 soldiers: Somali military


U.S.-led coalition drone kills two at Islamic
State depot in northern Syria: Turkish sources


Two car bombs kill at least eight
in southern Iraq: police sources


EU set to drive forward visas
for Turks in migrant deal


IEA chief says oil price bottoming
depends on global growth


Philippine island rebels
free 10 Indonesian hostages


Yemen's Houthis seize military
base, endangering peace talks


Three Turkish soldiers killed, 14 others
wounded in PKK attack in the southeast: army


Two rockets hit Turkish town near
Syria border, injuring two: sources


Rare rallies in Vietnam over
mysterious mass fish deaths


Obama torches Trump at his final
Washington correspondents' dinner


Detroit schools can't meet
payroll after June 30


Daniel Berrigan, U.S. anti-war
priest and poet, dies at 94


Six killed in Texas floods as
severe weather lashes central U.S.


Uncle charged in murder of former
Chinese student in Australia


China trains 'fishing militia'
to sail into disputed waters


For Obama, it's time for one last
laugh at annual Washington dinner


U.S. says working on 'specific initiatives'
to de-escalate Syrian violence


Facing long odds in California,
Cruz courts state's Republicans


Putin reshuffles Russia's
law enforcement structures


Buffett says Berkshire
'fine' with Trump or Clinton


Blacklisted oil tanker returns
to Libya's Zawiya port


Canada eager to consider investing in
new Montreal rail network - Trudeau


UK's 'Remain' camp gains
ground in EU poll: Opinium


Saudi hands over Houthi prisoners as
Yemen peace efforts inch ahead: spokesman


Kenya burns vast piles of elephant
tusks as it seeks ban on trade


Obama takes final bow at
star-studded Washington dinner


Sadr followers dig in inside Baghdad's
Green Zone, political crisis deepens


Egypt puts on trial 237 activists
for protests against Sisi: sources


Buffett defends Berkshire's
Coke stake, warns on BNSF


Five killed in Sudanese
military plane crash


Aleppo bombed as Syrian army
begins 'calm' plan elsewhere


Firebrand Malema rallies South Africa's
poor pledging land, jobs, wifi


Berkshire preliminary first-quarter
operating profit falls


France to increase troop numbers
in Ivory Coast after beach attack


Rescuers search rubble of Nairobi
building, at least 12 dead


Al Qaeda in Yemen confirms
retreat from port city of Mukalla


Air strikes pound Syria's
Aleppo, 'calm' farther southwest


Hindu tailor in Bangladesh hacked to
death in attack claimed by Islamic State


U.S. West Point academy set for first
woman dean in two century history


Germany to ask European Commission to
allow extension of border controls


China, Japan more upbeat on
ties but challenges remain


Hundreds of protesters storm Baghdad's
Green Zone, enter parliament


Afghan forces launch
push against Taliban


Britain's Labour Party
launches anti-semitism inquiry


Ringling elephants, a famed U.S. circus
act, pack up trunks for retirement


Left-wing protesters clash with German
police before right-wing AfD congress


Italy merchant ship rescues 26 migrants
off Libya, others feared missing


Bomb attack on Shi'ite pilgrims in
Baghdad kills at least 19: sources


Muslim prayer hall set on fire
on French island of Corsica


Iran's moderates make modest
gains in run-off election


Rescuers dig for trapped residents after
Nairobi building collapse kills seven


Russia defends intercept of U.S.
reconnaissance plane over Baltic


Bomb in Baghdad suburb kills
at least 17: police sources


Turkish warplanes hit PKK targets in
southeast Turkey, northern Iraq: sources


Thailand jails nine activists charged
with sedition, computer crimes


Africa's giant eye in the
sky proving worth its SALT


Ferrovial says won't run Australia
offshore detention centers in future


Australia working to locate aid
worker kidnapped in Afghanistan


Teenage girl killed in carnival ride
incident in Texas - local media


Confederate monument to be removed
from University of Louisville campus


U.N. says in principle open to
helping in Iran-U.S. assets dispute


China says Japan ties should be based
on cooperation, not confrontation


Mexico anti-corruption bill hits
hurdle, government on defensive



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