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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 24, 2014, 9:12 am (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Iran nuclear talks set to resume
next month after missing deadline

Seven Thai policemen charged as
probe into senior officers widens

Two U.S. soldiers killed in bomb
attack in Afghan capital: sources

UK faces biggest threat to its
security since 9/11: Interior Minister

Heavy rain kills at least
17 in southern Morocco

China seizes 31 trafficking
suspects holding Myanmar women

Bomber targeted police commander
in Afghan volleyball game attack

India names special envoy
for China border talks

Stalled Greek bailout talks
to resume in Paris on Tuesday

Grand jury expected to resume Ferguson
police shooting deliberations

U.S. seeks to step up India trade
talks after WTO breakthrough

China defies U.S. call to stop
island project in South China Sea

GSK shareholders to vote on
Novartis deal on Dec. 18

Bangladesh ex-ruling party
leader gets death for war crimes

Three more Ukrainian soldiers
killed: Kiev military

Italy's Renzi wins regional
polls, low turnout sends warning

Philippines fines Chinese fishermen
$102,000 each for poaching

Russia puts losses at up to $140 billion from
Western sanctions, oil price fall: minister

Multi-national crew
reaches space station

U.S. Army base in Texas lifts lockdown
after suspicious vehicle found

British banker's murder trial in
Hong Kong adjourned until July

Crews rescue two women in
Chicago apartment collapse

Afghan women excluded from peace
talks with Taliban: aid agency

Exclusive: China ready to cut rates
again on fears of deflation - sources

Low voter turnout could erode Japan
PM Abe's call for fresh mandate

Mexico summons Uruguay ambassador over
president's comments on missing students

Landmark Tunisian presidential
election seen heading for run-off

Florida gunman aimed to kill as many
officers as he could, police say

Portugal ex-PM Socrates still in
custody, more questioning Monday

Cleveland boy with pellet gun
dies after police shoot him

Iran and powers set to extend
nuclear talks if final push fails

France's Hollande made left-wing
voters feel betrayed: ex-partner

Man hunting geese in New Jersey
accidentally kills himself: police

Iran, powers eye extension of nuclear
talks with deadline hours away

More than 30 horses die in stable
fire outside Chicago: reports

New York City baby shot as father
cleaned illegal weapon, police say

New York lawmakers meet to address
police shooting of unarmed man

Kenya says kills militants
after bus ambush that killed 28

Twelve-year-old Cleveland boy
dies after being shot by police

Small quake shakes Dallas area,
stirring fracking critics

No easy 'plan B' for Iran if nuclear
talks with major powers collapse

New Jersey mother dies days after
shooting her children, police say

Iranian-British woman jailed over
sport protest released on bail

Police in Tobago investigate
murder of German couple on beach

U.S. troops to remain in
Baltics, Poland next year

Anxious Ferguson waits
for grand jury's decision

Tunisia's Essebsi's party says he's
ahead in presidential vote count

Obama to Republican critics
on immigration: 'Pass a bill'

Flooding could follow heavy
snow in western New York

Thai king meets PM, ministers
easing health concerns

Suicide bomber kills 45 at
volleyball match in Afghanistan

Dutch complete recovery of
MH17 wreckage: government

Fighters from Syrian al Qaeda
wing close in on Shi'ite village

Growing UK concern about 'lone wolf'
terrorist attacks: top policeman

Iraqi Kurds prepare
Sinjar mountain offensive

Tunisians vote for first freely
elected president of post-Ben Ali era

Over 800 sea-borne migrants
saved in Italy, northern Cyprus

Obama says Clinton likely to have
different positions from him in 2016 race

Western New York braces for
flooding as heavy snow melts

British PM Cameron's party says
likely to fail to cut immigration

Iraqi forces say retake two
towns from Islamic State

Egypt could send troops to a
Palestinian state to help out: paper

Over 25 killed in attack on
Nigerian fishing community

Irish police given names of
suspected IRA sex abusers: newspaper

Putin says Russia not isolated over
Ukraine, blames West for frosty ties

Israeli forces kill Palestinian along
Gazan border: Palestinian ministry

Journalists remember 32 colleagues
slain in the Philippines

Israel charges cop with manslaughter
in Palestinian youth's death

Moldova, eyeing Ukraine, divided on
Europe integration as election nears

Obama widens post-2014 combat role
for U.S. forces in Afghanistan

Islamic State has lured 550
Germans into fighting: spy agency

Scandal-plagued former Washington
mayor Marion Barry dies

Italy regional votes to
test public mood on Renzi

Zimbabwe's Mugabe tightens grip
on party, to choose successor

Iraqi forces battle Islamic
State in towns north of Baghdad

For many young British Muslims tug of
peace is stronger than pull of war

Anxious residents of Missouri
town await grand jury verdict

Bangladesh arrests nine in
crackdown on militant groups

Countdown to missed
opportunity for EU economy

Iran says nuclear deal 'impossible'
by November 24 deadline: ISNA

Bangladesh arrests woman
leader of militant outfit

Voting gets underway in
Tunisian presidential election

China arrests man for spying
on aircraft carrier base: CCTV

German couple found murdered
in Caribbean island of Tobago

Bahrain holds elections, Shi'ite
opposition boycotts vote

Bighorn sheep escapes Los Angeles
Zoo, dies after car strikes it

Tunisians go to polls for
presidential election

Poland's ruling party wins most
seats in regional elections

Bill Cosby says he does not have
to 'answer to innuendos': report

Florida State players, fans show
support for shooting victims

Suspected Islamist fighters in
Mali kill two children, abduct 10

Florida sheriff's deputy killed in
'ambush attack' during house fire

University of Virginia suspends fraternal
organizations in assaults probe

Three-year-old boy shot by playmate
in Washington state -police

Irish PM's party popularity hit
by water levy protests: poll

Activist Sharpton calls for probe
into police shooting of NYC man

Obama's day off: Golf with
baseball great Derek Jeter

West not expected to demand Iran
atom bomb "mea culpa" in deal

Demonstrators clash with French
police over protester death

Obama approves fresh guidelines
for U.S. military in Afghanistan

U.S. plans to arm Iraq's Sunni
tribesmen with AK-47s, RPGs, mortars

Missouri town on edge awaiting grand
jury decision on police shooting

France's Sarkozy wants EU
to lose half its powers

Danish man shot and
wounded in Saudi capital

Islamic State kills at least 25 Iraqi
tribesmen near Ramadi: officials

Four dead in murder-suicide on South
Dakota reservation, police say

Volunteer snow shovelers hit Buffalo
streets as flooding fears rise

U.S. pledges $135 million in additional
Syria aid after U.N. warnings

Somali Islamists execute 28
non-Muslims on Kenyan bus

Iran supreme leader moves to break
impasse over key cabinet post

U.S. and Turkey discuss transition
away from Assad in Syria

Scotland's first pro-independence
daily paper to launch next week

U.S. briefs Gulf allies on Iran
nuclear talks, still sees 'big gaps'

Albanian opposition rallies
against tax, power burden

Colombia's Santos says FARC release
of hostages will be next week

U.S. releases Guantanamo
prisoner to Saudi Arabia

Magnitude 6.8 quake hits central
Japan; no tsunami warning: NHK

Bodies of Armenian pilots removed
from helicopter crash site

Russia to seek new partners if
Western oil majors leave: minister

Kenyan bus attack kills 28;
Islamists claim responsibility

Polish opposition party
calls for rerun of elections

Kerry says 'big gaps' remain
in Iran nuclear talks

Two frontrunners emerge in
Tunisia's presidential vote

France's ex-president Sarkozy
loses support in party race

Somalia's al Shabaab says kills
28 in northeast Kenya bus attack

U.S.-led strikes have killed
910 people in Syria: monitor

Mother's death leads NFL
player to fight domestic abuse

Lavrov accuses West of seeking
'regime change' in Russia

Portuguese ex-PM Socrates
arrested in corruption probe

New Burkina president vows to
identify folk hero Sankara's body

Philippines blacklists nine Hong
Kong journalists for heckling Aquino

U.S. welcomes oil deal between
Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad

Portuguese police arrest ex-PM
Socrates in corruption investigation

Gunmen kill 28 in northeast
Kenya bus attack: ministry

Four killed, child injured in
shooting at Cleveland home

Obama signs order expanding
U.S. Afghanistan role: NYT

FBI arrests two would-be Ferguson
bomb suspects: law enforcement source

U.S. judge blocks New
Jersey sports betting law

Seattle police body cameras plan revived
by deal with anonymous programmer

Louisiana AG disagrees with ruling
that would free 'Angola Three' inmate

Officials prepare for Ferguson
grand jury decision, urge calm

Review set for University of Virginia
policy after campus rape report

Connecticut man pleads not
guilty in son's death in hot car

Cuban migrants head off from
Caymans, bound for Honduras

New Jersey home shooting appears
to be murder-suicide gone awry

Newtown massacre shooter indulged
dark obsessions online, report says

Transvaginal mesh trial losses
put pressure on Boston Scientific

Activists seek clemency for
terminally ill Texas death row inmate

Lawyer for bin Laden son-in-law
gets 1-1/2 years prison in tax case

Judge in Colorado cinema rampage case
allows second sanity exam at trial

U.N. calls for credible Myanmar
election, minority protection

Indiana man beheaded in Syria
remembered in Muslim prayer service

U.S. export lender hands
over documents to Congress

Obama seeks support for
immigration plan, blasts Boehner

Woman says New Orleans police
closed rape case as consensual sex

L.A. school district settles teacher
sex abuse suits for nearly $140 million

U.S., Iran discussing new ideas
to break nuclear impasse: sources

San Francisco window washer in
hospital after 11-story fall onto car

Grappling with protests, Mexico
president urges swift judicial reform

Woman who led New Mexico police
on chase indicted second time

Accused Colombia rebel extradited to
U.S. to face hostage-taking charges

American University rejects
divesting its fossil-fuel assets

Egypt hires German firm to bore
transport tunnels under Suez Canal

NYC pays former fast-food worker
$437,000 to settle Big Mac glass case

In Chicago, contenders make hard
push to get on mayoral ballot

Longest U.S. suspension bridge
celebrated New York-style

Florida polo magnate gets 16 years
for deadly drunken driving crash

Turkey, U.S. play down differences
on fight against Islamic State

Judge rejects Illinois
pension reform law

Canadian vets plan to join Kurdish
fight against Islamic State

Lawyers descend on Ferguson
ahead of grand jury decision

House leader: Obama 'sabotages'
bipartisan immigration policy

Former Oregon beauty pageant
winner arrested in drug bust

Mudslide strikes home in California
area that saw wildfire this year

Any new U.S. Internet rules must
withstand lawsuits: FCC chief

FBI gets package mailed by gunman
killed at Florida university

Icelandic interior minister
quits after immigration scandal

Torturers of Chilean President's
father sentenced to jail

Missouri preparing for news conference
on Ferguson shooting decision

China building South China Sea island
big enough for airstrip: report

Obama will visit India
again as ties expand

U.S. threatens to cut food stamp
funding to Maine in photo ID row

Man charged with murder
of Indiana teenage girl

Pentagon reforms aim to curb
predatory sales targeting troops

Biden voices support for Ukraine,
denounces Russia's Putin

NYC officer's gun may have discharged
accidentally in man's death

FCC chief says U.S. Internet
rules must stand up to lawsuits

Texas teen arrested in porn sting
posed as elementary school student

Holder urges restraint ahead of
decision on Ferguson shooting

Cleared of murder, Ohio man
released from prison after 39 years

Brazil's Rousseff struggling to
limit Petrobras scandal's damage

Senate Democrats blast New
York Fed over bank regulation

UK troops in largest armored deployment
in Eastern Europe for six years

New York officer shot dead unarmed
man in Brooklyn: New York Times

Walmart workers announce Black
Friday protest locations

Vazquez favorite to win Uruguay
presidential vote as economy shines

Conservatives, states set to launch legal
blitz against Obama over immigration

Hunger striker 'prepared to die'
over Trinidad highway project

Merkel against unilaterally
recognizing Palestine as a state

Widespread flooding ahead for
snowy western New York: officials

Togo opposition marchers
clash with security forces

Up to 80 people killed by suspected
Ugandan rebels in Congo: group

Four people injured in
accident at Chicago Macy's

Florida State reopens library
where three shot, gunman killed

Pentagon reforms personnel bill
payment system to curb predatory sales

Obama to be chief guest at
India's January Republic Day

Banking culture breeds dishonesty,
scientific study finds

In class obsessed Britain, tweet
of 'white van' man hits nerve

Western leaders step away from nuclear
talks with Iran as deadline nears

House Republicans sue over
Obama's healthcare law

Zimbabwe calls South African report
on its 2002 election 'rubbish'

Fugitive Ukraine tycoon wins,
then loses, Serbian citizenship

Sudan asks U.N. mission in
Darfur to prepare to leave

Bank executive among finalists
to be Brazil finance minister

U.S. senator worried Fed oversight
of major banks still lax

Obama to visit India in January for
constitution ceremony, meet with Modi

Florida approves silencers
for game hunting

Putin's high approval ratings
not real: protest group

Toyota Lexus to recall some
2006-2011 models due to fuel leak

Islamic State targeted in 30
air strikes by U.S., allies

Romanian prosecutors probe
their own crime unit chief

Texas school board to vote on textbooks
criticized for religious bent

U.S. House will fight Obama's
immigration action: Boehner

EU agrees law to
curb plastic bag use

Sri Lankan minister quits, to
challenge Rajapaksa for presidency

U.S. Vice President Biden denounces
Putin's action in Ukraine

Merkel aide raps Russia after
report on aid to Ukraine rebels

Hungarian Internet tax plan
hits ruling party support: poll

In Mali's desert French troops
hunt al Qaeda well by well

Iran, U.S., French officials to leave
nuclear talks as deadline looms

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