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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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