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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 Sep 21, 2014, 3:42 pm (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Yemeni parties and Houthi rebels sign
deal to end fighting, form new government

Forty migrants missing after raft
sinks near Libya: Italy coast guard

U.S. senator says no
place for violence in NFL

U.S. military struggles to preserve
options in Islamic State fight

Afghan election body names ex-finance
minister Ghani president-elect

Islamic State closes in on Syrian
town, refugees flood into Turkey

Exclusive: Siemens near deal
to buy Dresser-Rand - sources

Bomb kills three policemen,
including witness against Mursi

California wildfire destroys
10 houses, 22 other structures

Turkey says no ransom paid for release
of hostages held by Islamic State

Ghani named Afghan president-elect
after deal to end election dispute

Yemeni PM quits, Houthi rebels
advance in Sanaa despite accord

Former NFL kicker Bironas
dies in Nashville car wreck

Nationalist leader says Scots
tricked out of independence

Sarkozy takes swipe at French
presidential rivals in comeback campaign

Fighting rages in Yemeni
capital despite accord

Kenya to stay course in quest
to stabilize Somalia: President

Ukraine says ceasefire violations
hold up creation of buffer zone

Eyeing 2015 election, UK's Labour
pledges rise in minimum wage

Selling Mitch McConnell:
What's love got to do with it?

Afghanistan's presidential
rivals sign power-sharing deal

Massive New York march aims to focus
world's eyes on climate change

French and German visions for
Europe to clash in Berlin

Relief over Scotland gives way
to 'Great Stagnation' worries

Pope, on trip to mainly Muslim
Albania, condemns Islamist militants

No quick fix in U.S. bid to end
reliance on Russian rocket engines

Wife of Alan Henning, Briton held by
Islamic State, pleads for his release

Families of German MH17
victims to sue Ukraine: lawyer

Kurds issue new call to arms
against Islamic State in Syria

G20 says nearing growth goal,
but more needed from Europe

SpaceX Falcon rocket
blasts off from Florida

Florida prison system fires 32 guards
after inmate deaths: Miami Herald

Clashes in Yemeni capital
cast doubt on deal signing

Police capture four of five
escaped California inmates

New Zealand PM storms to third term
but faces slowing growth ahead

Exclusive: Iran seeks give and
take on militants, nuclear program

China says will not alter policy
because of one economic indicator

Afghan rivals set to sign unity
government deal after messy election

Fiji coup leader Bainimarama
claims election victory

Man charged with killing NFL player
Peterson's son released on bond: report

White House intruder was
armed with knife: officials

Man arrested for charging White House
had knife: U.S. attorney's office

Person of interest named in hunt
for missing Virginia student

U.S. to deliver 10 Apache
helicopters to Egypt - Pentagon

U.S. Secret Service increases security
around White House after breach

Sierra Leone burial team
attacked despite lockdown

Tour boat runs aground near
Statue of Liberty; none injured

Hong Kong students to boycott class
to protest China curbs on democracy

Egypt to host Palestinian-Israeli
Gaza talks in days: state news agency

Rival prime ministers address
Libyans, highlighting divisions

Bomb explodes at Hezbollah
checkpoint in eastern Lebanon

Destructive California wildfire
burning in two national forests

About 60,000 Syrian Kurds flee to
Turkey from Islamic State advance

Kentucky firefighter dies after
ice bucket challenge accident

Greek leftist opposition leads
ruling conservatives: polls

Cause of Air Algerie July
crash in Mali still unknown

14 Pakistanis freed from U.S. custody
in Afghanistan's Bagram prison: lawyers

Pope and Argentine president 'talk
finance' in private at Vatican

Afghan presidential rivals reach
unity deal after disputed vote: aides

NASA spacecraft approaches Mars
to seek answers to lost water

Organizers say Los Angeles rejects
giant street waterslide plan

At least 36 killed in shootout with
Islamists in northeast Nigerian town

U.S. immigration protesters
drop U.S. border blockade plan

Nigerian Islamists kill 36
in attacks on northeast town

Brown says London must keep promise
to Scotland as political truce ends

Egypt upholds death sentence for
five in killing of policeman

Four killed in cross-border Boko
Haram attack in northern Cameroon

Yemen president calls for
settlement on third day of clashes

Munitions factory hit in Ukraine's
Donetsk, buffer zone to be set up

New Zealand's National
Party marches back to power

Afghan election commission to reveal
long-awaited results Sunday: official

Exclusive: Hyundai directors kept in dark
on size of $10 billion land bid - sources

Pope names moderate as Chicago
archbishop, key role in U.S. Church

Kentucky preservation society
cracking century old bourbons

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt
near home of suspect's parents

Yemen TV building on fire as
clashes continue in capital

Britain must honor pledge to grant
Scotland powers, Gordon Brown says

Secret Service investigates after man
jumps White House fence, reaches doors

N.Korea says imprisoned American
tried to become 'second Snowden'

NZ's ruling National
Party to return to power

California governor rejects
bills to help men change diapers

Missing Texas deputy
found dead in Lake Austin

Clouds, rain delay SpaceX
Falcon rocket launch

Weather helps crews make gains
against California wildfire

Texas gubernatorial candidates
court Hispanic vote in debate

Storm leaves 200,000 displaced
in Philippines, heads for Taiwan

As G20 chases growth goal, members
differ on how to get there

Mexico investigates army shootout
that killed 22 suspected gang members

Poisoned Texas doctor says lover
gave him 'sweet tasting' coffee

Texas governor orders National
Guard to look for dead immigrants

Man jumps White House fence,
sparks brief evacuation

White House press, staff allowed
back in after brief evacuation

California lawyer faces discipline
for phony celebrity photo-ops

American Airlines reaches tentative
deal with flight attendants

Kiev, rebels agree to extra measures
to ensure Ukraine cease-fire

Part of White House evacuated;
Obama not present: witnesses

Virginia storm temporarily halts
probe into girls' 1975 disappearance

Goodell tackles NFL domestic
abuse crisis with vow to reform

Pennsylvania boy, nine, feared
kidnapped on sailboat in Pacific Ocean

Accreditation agency places
Corinthian under warning

Mother, stepfather sought in
disappearance of four Mississippi girls

U.N. aviation body to mull space
safety as space taxis ready for flight

Los Angeles iPad rollout for schools
slowed by technical challenges: report

U.S. aims to keep Iran atomic talks
separate from Islamic State conflict

NFL opens door for overhaul
after domestic violence crisis

Wisconsin governor candidate cuts
ties with consultant over jobs plan

Purdue University shooter gets
65 years, shows no remorse

Alibaba surges 38 percent on
massive demand in market debut

Chad accuses U.N. of neglecting
its peacekeepers in Mali

Pathologist reviews autopsy of man
killed in NY police choke hold

Baltimore judge approves $190 million
deal on secret gynecological photos

Ten Commandments marker can
stay at Oklahoma Capitol: judge

California bill would help protect
franchisee business investments

Exxon winds down drilling as
U.S. sanctions hit Russia

Ex-El Salvador president to await
graft trial in jail, not at home

Scots spurn independence in historic
vote, devolution battle begins

Three peanut company officials
guilty in deadly salmonella outbreak

Campaign donations highlight
winners, losers in Brazil election

Protests planned to target U.S.
southern border entry ports

Man freed after ramming truck into
Las Vegas casino commits suicide

NFL's Goodell signals major
shift in personal conduct policy

Ebola lockdown brings Sierra
Leone capital to a halt

Connecticut university sounds
'all clear' after bomb threat

Syria militants kill captive
Lebanese soldier, bomb kills two

North Carolina court releases money
in halted school voucher program

Mexican kingpin's brother among
seven slain men in western state

Texas triple murder suspect
kills self in jail: authorities

Russia critical of MH17
inquiry, wants bigger U.N. role

Three years after Somali
famine, new hunger crisis looms

Bahrain says parties find common ground
but Shi'ites say demands not met

Facing U.S. sanctions, Exxon winds
down drilling in Russian Arctic

Former Connecticut Governor Rowland
found guilty of campaign law violations

Syria's Nusra Front kills captive
Lebanese soldier: sources, statement

Air France says pilots may
continue strike until September 26

Police check car, apartment in
search for missing Virginia student

U.S. Congress urged to pass bill to
speed development of antibiotics

Iran can no longer stall in nuclear
talks: German foreign minister

University of California votes
not to divest from fossil fuels

Suspect in Bali suitcase murder admits
killing girlfriend's mother: police

Utah doctor sentenced to 15 years
to life for wife?s 2007 murder

Switzerland prepares to tighten
screws on whistleblowers

Spending, war disputes to dog
post-election, lame-duck Congress

Goodell resurfaces to discuss NFL
handling of domestic violence

European Court agrees to hear
Berlusconi tax fraud appeal

SpaceX aims to step up launch
rate with next mission for NASA

Rivals dash to support Apple
Pay for fear of losing out

White House does not expect Obama,
Iran's Rouhani to meet at U.N.

Bahrain says national dialogue
parties find common ground

Kenya detains two Iranians on
suspicion of planning attacks

U.S. won't stand in way of
Venezuela's U.N. Security Council bid

Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania
form joint military unit

White House anti-assault campaign
uses stars, sports to reach campuses

Detroit council approves
regional water authority deal

Crews hope break in weather will aid
fight against California wildfire

IMF to halt aid to Bosnia until
agreed policies implemented

Sarkozy returns to politics,
offers France new start

Global court orders Kenyan
president to attend hearing

Alibaba jumps more than 40
percent in trading debut

Judge concerned over U.S.
embassy bombing case guilty plea

Sweden protests against airspace
violation by Russian planes

U.S. nutrition program for mothers,
infants sees falling demand

Seven killed as Ugandans,
South Sudanese clash at border

Lizard in food sends 300 school
children in India to hospital

Retail investors rush
to buy Alibaba IPO

Kansas Democrat asks court to
require new U.S. Senate candidate

Iran moving to comply with extended
nuclear deal with powers-IAEA

Panama foreign minister invites
Raul Castro to Americas Summit

Killings of Florida mother,
six children stun community

Killings in Guinea show mistrust
in Africa Ebola fight: WHO

U.S. Senate Democrats propose
exit tax for inverting companies

Exclusive: TD Ameritrade sees premarket
orders for Alibaba approach Facebook levels

France's Sarkozy sets return
to politics with "new project"

Kurdish leader urges world to protect
Syrian town from Islamic State

Egyptian to plead guilty
over U.S. embassy bombings

U.S. leading indicator rises
less than expected in August

Apple faithful line up for
latest, larger iPhones

Catalonia call independence
vote despite Scottish 'no'

French jets strike in Iraq, expanding
U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State

Russian businessman freed from
house arrest, his company says

'Hundreds of thousands' of orders
placed for Alibaba in debut: NYSE

Colombia wants more convictions
for violence against women

New Polish PM brings her
rival into government

China hands drugmaker GSK record
$489 million fine for paying bribes

For followers of Nigeria's 'Prophet',
building collapse was 'Satan's work'

Russia eyes measures to fend off
Western Internet threat: Kremlin

Bomb kills two Lebanese
soldiers at Syrian border

Syrian Kurds fleeing Islamic
State cross border into Turkey

Exclusive: Asian buyers of U.S.
LNG dial back as exuberance dims

Exclusive: Angry with Washington,
1 in 4 Americans open to secession

Special Report: Scotland stays
in UK, but Britain faces change

Russia fails to remove Syria
nuclear probe from IAEA agenda

Angelina Jolie surgery sparks surge
in female cancer tests: study

Uganda's Museveni ditches former
ally PM Mbabazi in power struggle

Japan PM Abe seeks summit with
South Korea's Park amid frosty ties

Sweden's Moderates say could
cooperate with center-left government

Spanish leaders relieved as Scottish
'no' deals blow to Catalan separatists

France says it launches
first air strikes in Iraq

U.S. Border Patrol, under fire for
use of force, to trial body cameras

Ugandan president removes prime
minister and former ally Mbabazi

Hundreds of Syrian Kurds fleeing
Islamic State gather on Turkish border

Brazil's Rousseff closes in on
Silva ahead of October vote

Modi says al Qaeda will
fail in India: CNN

Russia says backs U.N. draft
resolution on 'terrorist fighters'

U.S. Treasury's Lew calls for euro
zone, Japan to do more on growth

Shi'ite rebels shell Yemen state
TV, residents flee fighting

South Korea fires warning
shots at North's patrol boat

Fiji ruler looks set to win poll,
but opponents spotlight fraud

China to try former senior
planning official for corruption

In shift, U.S. officials fight
release on bond of migrants: lawyers

It?s a good time to run for
office in Iowa: meet Queen Joni

Yamal, Russia's gas megaplan,
becomes symbol of sanctions defiance

Scots support staying in the United
Kingdom: partial results show

Glasgow bucks Scottish trend,
votes for independence

Ex-Japan PM to visit South Korea
in hope of easing troubled ties

Scots voting against
independence, early results show

Police arrest shooting suspects
at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport

North Korea probe on Japan abductees
in early stage: Japan government

Scots vote against independence
in four small constituencies

Arrests made after two sexual assaults
at Southern Illinois University

Obama not due to meet Iran's Rouhani
but open to it: U.S. official

Man kills daughter, six grandchildren
in Florida murder-suicide

Maverick and web tycoon shape as
key players in New Zealand election

Australian PM cites 'chatter' of
attacks on government, parliament

Scots vote in record numbers,
await independence verdict

Connecticut jury begins weighing
charges against former governor

U.S. government warns Oregon
researchers about monkey care

U.S. Senate approves Sheets
as Treasury undersecretary

Two adults, six children dead
in Florida shooting: report

Couple accused of Amish sisters' kidnap
charged with child sex exploitation

Baltimore cop who cut dog's throat
was within his rights: lawyer

U.S. Congress approves arming
Syrian rebels, funding government

Trio of Republican 2016 hopefuls
stake out positions with Syria vote

Home Depot breach bigger than
Target at 56 million cards

In Barry Bonds appeal, U.S. judges
take swings at Justice Department

Deputy missing in Texas after
patrol car swept away in heavy rain

Bush family member angered by Republican
Senate candidate's ads in Georgia

All county sheriffs in Colorado halt
federal immigration holds: ACLU

Arab Bank never backed Hamas,
lawyer tells U.S. jury

Suspect in Pennsylvania police
ambush put on FBI wanted list

Detroit art museum will sue if
city's bankruptcy plan not approved

Kansas Democrat ordered removed
from U.S. Senate ballot

U.S. House Speaker Boehner bemoans
notion 'I don't have to work'

U.S. sanctions military officers on
both sides of South Sudan conflict

Boarding kennel operators in
Arizona sued over 21 dog deaths

Obama to tout U.S. climate
plan at U.N. summit

Man killed after falling
into wood chipper in Arizona

Home Depot says 56 million card
details likely stolen in breach

Alibaba IPO prices at top of
range, raising $21.8 billion

Washington D.C. voters back
legal pot by 2-1 margin: poll

White House calls for task force to
tackle antibiotic-resistant bugs

Oracle's Ellison steps aside,
co-CEOs Catz and Hurd take over

Seattle set to change name
of Columbus Day holiday

Scots independence polls close,
UK's future in the balance

Judge rejects bid for hearing
on moving Boston bombing trial

Pennsylvania fines shale gas driller
Range Resources $4.15 million

Eight bodies found after attack
on Guinea Ebola education team

Moroccan government proposes penalties
for nationals fighting in Syria, Iraq

Chicago officials investigate human
bones sent to Japanese consulate

Obama nominates Indian-American
as ambassador to India

Ailing Rob Ford urges voters to
back brother for Toronto mayor

New York offers illegal immigrants
zoo trips, museum tours with ID cards

Rochester, N.Y., store manager pleads
not guilty to aiding Islamic State

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