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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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