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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 Aug 31, 2015, 8:42 am (all times Eastern US)
 
Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
Reuters News
Six elite soldiers killed
in eastern Congo ambush


Exclusive: Citi aims to boost equities
franchise amid industry shakeout


Myanmar's president signs off on
law seen as targeting Muslims


China praises Taiwan war contribution
as official arrives for parade


Ukraine's parliament backs draft
law giving east special status


China to open high-speed rail
link to North Korean border


Two U.S. F-22 fighter jets arrive in Poland
as part of European training mission


Japan eyes defense budget hike to
fortify island chain facing China


Thai police hunt two bombing
suspects after weekend raids


Fred becomes second hurricane
of 2015 Atlantic season


China party says no disrespect
meant with Jiang sign removal


Arizona mother accused of
drowning twin sons in bathtub


Refugee crisis suddenly
Merkel's biggest challenge


Thai police issue two new arrest warrants
after raid finds bomb-making materials


Cambodia says no plan to take more
refugees from Australian detention camp


China property developers to buy
back Tianjin blast homes: Xinhua


Philippine Christian group ends
protest blocking Manila highway


U.S. considering sanctions over
Chinese cyber theft: Washington Post


Texas secessionists launch petition
drive for vote to break away


'The Storm Makers' puts Cambodia's
sex-trafficking under spotlight


Clan warfare trumps diplomacy
in Mali's fragile north


Texas teen dies of rare
brain-eating amoeba infection


Five more California inmates
diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease


Obama changing name of Alaska's
Mount McKinley to Denali


Four Libyan soldiers killed in new battle
with Islamist fighters in Benghazi: medics


University of Texas moves statue of
Confederate president Jefferson Davis


Hurricane Ignacio weakens,
forecast to just miss Hawaii


Obama to rename North America's
highest peak as Denali on Alaska trip


Christie defends plan to monitor
immigrants like FedEx tracks parcels


Unprecedented migrant crisis
forces EU to seek answers


US national security advisor warns
Pakistan on recent militant attacks


Islamic State destroys part of
Syria's Temple of Bel: monitors


Man falls 40 feet to death
at Atlanta baseball stadium


Egypt sets Oct election date, after
three years without parliament


Suspect in Houston officer
shooting to appear in court Monday


U.S. presidential hopeful Sanders
gains ground on Clinton in Iowa poll


Obama invites Pakistan PM
Sharif for October visit


Egypt to hold parliamentary
election starting October 18-19


U.S., allies conduct 20 air strikes
against Islamic State: U.S. military


Nigeria's security agency says arrested
20 suspected Boko Haram chiefs


Iran nuclear deal now
backed by 31 senators


Gunmen attack remote Pakistan
airport, kill two engineers


Europe trades blame as migrants'
bodies pulled from Mediterranean


Christie says criticism of FedEx-like
immigrant tracking is 'ridiculous'


Swazi police confirm 13 die in
crash en route to royal ceremony


Germany calls for more European
solidarity in refugee crisis


Scioli expands lead in Argentina
presidential race, runoff seen


Two dead, massive outages after
windstorm slams Washington state


Greek leftists say they would apply
bailout but fight to ease pain


Migrants in Hungary seek traffickers
on trip 'from death to death'


Putin pumps iron to show Russians
his healthy, wholesome side


French PM says to stick to
reforms despite party heckles


Sudan's Bashir to visit China
despite international arrest warrant


Four civilians, two police officers
killed in attacks in southeast Turkey


Islamic State targeted in 22 airstrikes
in Iraq, Syria: U.S. Military


Boeing uses its clout to
control supplier consolidation


Democratic Senator Merkley airs
support for Iran nuclear deal


Iran jails two people for 10
years on espionage charges


Irish government says Sinn Fein must
help ensure IRA put 'out of business'


Thousands troop to Philippine highway
for third night in Church protest


Migrant boat sinks off Libyan coast,
kills at least seven: official


After autopsies on refugees found in truck,
Austrian police presume they suffocated


Brazil's crafty Senate boss
helps keep Rousseff afloat


Sharper forecasts may help avert
repeat of Katrina disaster


Hungarian police detain fifth
suspect for migrant deaths in truck


Fire at Saudi oil workers compound
kills 11, injures more than 200


Mystery man in Bangkok bomb
probe 'never said a word'


Malaysia's Mahathir calls for
'people power' movement to topple PM


Italy's Renzi brushes off
concerns over Senate reform drive


Swiss reject Indian request
for help in arms case


Houston police officer killed
because of uniform: county sheriff


Egypt summons UK ambassador over
criticism of Al Jazeera trial


Huge protest in Tokyo rails
against PM Abe's security bills


French PM booed by young Socialists as
party split over pro-business policy


U.S. national security adviser discusses
militant attacks in Pakistan talks


Saudi-led coalition air strike kills
36 Yemeni civilians: residents


Malaysia's ruling party promises huge
rally to trump anti-government protests


Dutch plan tougher asylum policy
as migrants flock to Europe


Ten years later, 'unbowed' New Orleans
reflects on Hurricane Katrina disaster


Afghan forces regain control of a
symbolic district in south


India's Modi accepts defeat on
contentious land decree, will change law


China investigates former
chairman of Wuhan Iron and Steel


Brazilian weekly says Lula
lobbied for Odebrecht in Cuba


Fan dies after fall
in Atlanta stadium


Pressure mounts on Malaysian PM
as protests spill into second day


Bid to lift Guatemala president's
immunity advances in Congress


Beijing battens down, cranks up
propaganda ahead of war parade


Man faces capital murder charge
in killing of Houston deputy


American arrested on Sierra
Leone 'blood diamond' charges


Republican Christie proposes tracking
immigrants like FedEx packages


Man arrested in killing of Houston
deputy, faces capital murder charge


Suspect arrested in shooting
death of Houston deputy


Fed's Fischer sees inflation
rebound, allowing gradual rate hikes


Black Lives Matter marches
on Minnesota State Fair


Refugee children, close to
death, found in van in Austria


Burkina dismisses election
candidates linked to ex-president


Construction accident closes
down major San Francisco freeway


Thousands rally in Beirut
against political leaders, rot


European ministers agree more railway
security, urge Schengen changes


Three refugee children found
critically ill in Austria


South Sudan rivals trade
accusations over new fighting


'Good reason to believe' inflation
will rise: Fed's Fischer


Greek opinion polls show Syriza
leads but by narrow margin


Hungary detains three Bulgarians,
one Afghan in migrant truck deaths


Hollande, Merkel, Putin back
bid for new Ukraine ceasefire


Christian group occupies Philippine
highway for second night


Three children found in critical
condition on refugee truck: APA


Austrian police pin hopes of
identifying dead refugees on cellphones


Buffett's Berkshire takes $4.48
billion stake in Phillips 66


Like New Orleans, second-line
parades struggle but survive


Myanmar bans parties from
criticizing army in state media


Chad executes 10 Boko Haram
members by firing squad: sources


Erika no longer a tropical
storm, loses steam over Cuba


Police kill bystander when New
York undercover gun buy goes bad


Protesters begin to gather
in Beirut before major rally


Iran's Rouhani says military power not
affected by nuclear deal: state TV


Yellen ally pours cold water
on rule-based monetary policy


Malaysia's Mahathir joins
protesters calling for PM to go


China grants amnesty to mark
anniversary of WW2 victory


Amnesty calls for police restraint
ahead of major Lebanon rally


Turkish jets join U.S.-led
coalition strikes on Islamic State


Suspect in custody in ambush
of Houston sheriff's deputy


Satellite images confirm Syrian
temple destruction: U.N.


Erika dissipates as tropical
storm: National Hurricane Center


Turkish jets take part in U.S.-led strikes on
Islamic State for first time: foreign ministry


Military plane crashes in
northern Nigeria, killing seven


Russia says Ukrainian
hostage freed in Afghanistan


EU parliament chief attacks
'cynical' states over refugee crisis


Poll lead for Greece's Syriza narrows
as Tsipras presses for new mandate


Funeral for slain Missouri teen as
family questions police shooting


Libya arrests three suspected
smugglers over migrant boat disaster


Thousands rally to pile
pressure on Malaysia's PM


Dozens of young Swazi women
die on road to royal ceremony


With rhythm and reverence, New
Orleans marks 10 years since Katrina


French journalists probed on suspicion
of blackmailing Moroccan king


IMF's Lagarde says restructuring
should suffice for Greek debt


Thai police arrest foreign
man over Bangkok bombing


Controlled explosions
shake Afganistan's Kabul


Egyptian court sentences three
Al Jazeera journalists to prison


Obama heads north to Alaska, where
drilling decision looms large


North Korea agrees to talks
with South on family reunions


Ashley Madison courted several
buyers, landed none before attack


Lebanon should investigate use
of force in protests: Amnesty


Anguish of 'disappearance' continues
across the world, say campaigners


Local Syrian ceasefires break
down as shelling resumes


Nigeria says uncovers Boko
Haram spy ring at Abuja airport


Hurricane Ignacio rolls
across Pacific toward Hawaii


Ceasefire breaks down in
three areas in Syria: monitor


Tropical storm losing strength as it
nears Florida, 20 dead in Dominica


Houston sheriff's deputy
fatally shot at gas station


Kentucky clerk seeks Supreme Court
help to deny gay marriage licenses


Pensioner killed in Venezuela
supermarket melee, opposition says


New Mexico's prosecutor charges
state official with embezzlement


Los Angeles committee gives support
to bid to host 2024 Olympics


U.N.'s Ban defends China parade
trip after Japanese concern: Xinhua


Biden beloved by top Democrats;
his candidacy, not so much


Man who shot Virginia journalists
identified with 9/11 attacks: sheriff


Exclusive: Russia's Kaspersky threatened
to 'rub out' rival, email shows


Oregon priest goes missing
after hidden camera allegations


White supremacist admits to three
Kansas murders, seeks acquittal


Columbia University seeks to end lawsuit
by accused student in mattress case


Venezuela's Maduro to visit
China, Vietnam for finance deals


Tropical Storm Erika losing its
punch as it heads for Florida


Obama to name James O'Brien
hostage affairs envoy


Wild week for
markets ends quietly


Former New Hampshire prep school
student not guilty of rape


Former Arkansas treasurer
sentenced to 30 months for bribery


New York TSA agent charged with
molesting traveler in bogus search


Syrians fear for relatives
after Austrian migrant tragedy


Obama reassures Jewish groups
on U.S.-Israel relationship


Greece's Syriza to win election
but face setback, polls show


Chicago school closure battle
intensifies with hunger strike


Trial reset for Baltimore man
charged with cutting hose in riot


Planned Parenthood goes to court
to fight funding cuts in Alabama


Judge orders former Ohio
deputy treasurer to prison


Iraqi PM orders easier access to
Baghdad's Green Zone as protests surge


New Turkish cabinet includes opposition,
but little policy change seen


Democratic support for Clinton at
lowest since 2012: Reuters poll


U.S. court hands win to NSA
over metadata collection


U.S. confirms Islamic State computer
expert killed in air strike


Rebekah Brooks returning to
News Corp as UK chief: FT


Magnitude 5.5 quake shakes
buildings in Peruvian capital


Obama: U.S., Israel in talks 'for
months' over security cooperation


Central African Republic armed
group frees enslaved children


French Socialists see reason
to hope with Greens in turmoil


Nationalist and pro-Kurdish opposition
given Turkish cabinet posts


Virginia governor calls for gun
controls after journalists shot


Web campaign raises $67,800 for
Syria refugee family in a day


Libyan drownings, truck of
corpses drive up migrant toll


Erdogan approves new Turkish
interim government: statement


Bangladesh arrests two more suspects
over killing of secular blogger


Biden backers eye gay support,
money for presidential bid


North Carolina policeman won't face
retrial in fatal shooting of black man


Kenyan gets 15 years in prison in U.S.
for funding Islamist militant groups


White supremacist defends killings,
says Jews must be stopped


White House says disagrees with court
decision blocking clean water rule


Dutch must end 'Black Pete'
racial stereotypes: U.N. body


Republican Rubio attacks
China's Xi ahead of visit


Court ruling on NSA data collection shows
program is constitutional: White House


Evacuation of wounded in
Syrian areas delayed: sources


Europe questions border rules
after train attack, migrant moves


Slain Virginia TV journalists
shot both in head and body


Inmate left to inhale own feces
can sue NY prison officials


No suspect identified in shooting
death of Georgia university student


Mozambique journalist
killed in drive-by shooting


Oklahoma day care probed for
drugging kids to get them to sleep


Saudi-led air strikes kill 10
people in central Yemen: officials


Appeals court upholds protest
ban on Supreme Court plaza


Wellington boots from Glastonbury
donated to Calais migrants


Virginia television journalists shot
in heads, bodies: medical examiner


U.N. plans new Libya
talks next week in Geneva


Shooting death of student at
Georgia university investigated


Forget goals, get back to nature to save
planet, says Indian conservationist


Georgia university investigating
fraternity's alleged racist taunts


U.S. court rules for government over
NSA metadata collection program


Virginia teen gets 11 years
for supporting Islamic State


President Obama to meet with
German President Gauck in October


U.S. says committed to transition
away from Syria's Assad


It's a boy! Washington zoo
gives details on new panda cub


Switzerland says regrets envoy's
display of Netanyahu cartoon


Austria, Libya count dead as number of
migrants crossing Mediterranean soars


China to parade high-tech weaponry in
signal of strength, and shop window


Florida Governor declares state
of emergency ahead of storm Erika


Iranian ship and crew escape after 5
months in captivity off Somali coast



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