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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
(JavaScript Error)
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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