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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 26, 2016, 4:12 pm (all times Eastern US)
 
Cost of the War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
Reuters News
Wall Street falls with
presidential debate on tap


U.S. hotels in Adana, Turkey, could
be targets of attacks: U.S. consulate


Hubble spots evidence of water
plumes on Jupiter's moon Europa


Senate sets Wednesday vote on Obama
veto of Saudi September 11 bill


New Jersey's Atlantic City water utility
to buy old airstrip for $100 million


Japan navy chief urges
resumption of China port visits


Man confessed to Washington state
mall shooting: court documents


Islamic State 'dead set' on using
chemical arms: Pentagon spokesman


California man faces sentencing
as would-be Islamic State recruit


U.S. crime rises in 2015, still
far below peak levels: FBI


Kerry defends diplomacy as
Russian-backed forces pound Aleppo


Exclusive: Viacom readies
U.S. dollar bond - sources


Senator seeks SEC probe of
Yahoo disclosure on hacking


Jury selection begins in U.S.
case against church shooter


'Ottoman' Boris Johnson makes first
visit to Turkey since Erdogan poem


Pfizer, banks lead Wall St
lower; presidential debate eyed


Reuters/Ipsos States of the
Nation: Clinton leads in Florida


Cedar Rapids, Iowa, braces for
flooding as river expected to crest


Three Mississippi River locks may
close due to flood: Army Corps


Man set to face charges in
Washington state mall shootings


South African union backs unionist-turned-tycoon
Ramaphosa as next president


Sanofi gets $43 mln U.S. funding
to spur Zika vaccine development


Italy to hold referendum on constitutional
reform on Dec 4: government


Death toll from militia violence
in central Congo jumps to 49


EU parliament backs visa-free
travel for Ukraine, hurdles remain


Portugal's Guterres leads race
for U.N. chief after fifth ballot


U.S. awards $20 million for body
cameras to 100 police departments


Surfing spaniels hit
the waves in California


Washington Monument closed
until elevator fixed


Calais migrant camp demolition raises
child trafficking fears, U.N. says


Hospitals overwhelmed by wounded in
Aleppo as Russia ignores Western pleas


Venezuela opposition calls Oct.
12 protest to press Maduro recall


Merkel: We need migrant deals with
African states like EU-Turkey pact


Egypt's Sisi promises more jobs to
deter perilous migration to Europe


Slovak PM Fico says EU migrant
quotas are 'politically finished'


Iran releases Canadian
academic held since June


India begins campaign at United
Nations to isolate Pakistan


U.S. sanctions Chinese firm tied
to North Korea's nuclear program


Iran downplays chances of
oil deal, UAE keen on freeze


Brazil police arrest ex-finance
minister Palocci in graft probe


Spain's Socialist chief calls for leadership
race to review government options


U.S. new home sales fall in
August but trend still positive


Troubled lawyer shoots nine in
Houston before being killed by police


Bosnian Serb leader summoned
for questioning over referendum


Small boats take on big
ships in Venice protest


Azerbaijan holds referendum
to extend president's term


British police seek toddler missing
for 25 years on Greek island


Police say man opens fire, injuring
two, near supermarket west of Paris


Colombia, Marxist rebels to
sign accord ending 52-year war


Rhode Island man found alive
after being lost at sea for week


Sky divers drop from
the air in North Korea


German broadcaster files complaint
in Turkey over confiscated tape


EU launches program to issue
cash cards to migrants in Turkey


Prominent southern China
labor activist avoids jail


Gunman injures several in
Houston; suspect shot by police


UK government must spell out
Brexit plans: opposition Labour


Ex-IMF head Rato stands trial
in Spain over credit card use


Clinton and Trump to square off
in highly anticipated debate


Philippines' Duterte wants to 'open
alliances' with Russia, China


EU leaders to consider how to improve
Russia ties without dropping sanctions


Scientists find new
fat clues in faeces


Knives out for young pretender
Macron in French presidential race


British police, with new clues, seek
missing toddler on Greek island


Air strikes pound
rebel-held Aleppo districts


UAE to introduce new laws
soon to regulate drones


Oman court jails journalists,
closes down newspaper


Paris planning nudist
park: deputy mayor


Rights group wants settlement soccer
clubs to relocate inside Israel


Ahead of debate, Trump endorsed
by U.S. immigration officers


Pipeline fight hangs over
White House tribal summit


Iran's supreme leader tells Ahmadinejad
not to run again for president


Hollande confirms Calais migrant
camp shutdown, urges UK help


China to build outposts for Tajik
guards on Tajikistan-Afghanistan border


UK opposition Labour plans borrowing to
revive industry, win back supporters


Blast kills three soldiers in Turkey's
mainly Kurdish southeast - sources


Germany's Lanxess to buy U.S. chemical
firm Chemtura for $2.7 billion


Hollande says Calais migrant camp
to be fully, definitely shut


Explosion hits Turkish army convoy in
Kurdish southeast, eight hurt: sources


Spanish police arrest two accused
of supporting Islamist militants


From prairie to the White House: Inside a
Tribe's quest to stop a pipeline


U.S. network of Turkish cleric facing
pressure as those at home seek help


Canada works to counter
protectionist mood of U.S. campaign


FBI report expected to show violent
crime rise in some U.S. cities


Debates to help half of U.S. voters
decide between Clinton, Trump: poll


Mexican priest killed in
central state of Michoacan


Charlotte protesters march for sixth
night despite shooting video release


Germany to Britain: Live up to
promise not to block EU reforms


China probes North Korea bank suspected
of nuclear link: South Korea report


Lotte says South Korea prosecutors requested
arrest warrant for chairman Shin Dong-bin


Golfing great Arnold Palmer, who
led 'Arnie's Army,' dies at 87


Canada says new border accord with
China will speed deportations


Squeezing North Korea: old friends
take steps to isolate regime


Raised-fist Olympians punished in
1968 will be received at White House


Canadian diplomat's son in deadly
Florida shooting deported home


Local candidate killed in Rio
suburb, highlighting crime woes


Six bodies found in parking
lot in Mexico's Sinaloa state


Clinton to press Trump to spell out
policy plans in presidential debate


Erdogan sees 'ulterior motives'
in U.S. case against gold trader


Houthi official in Yemen
offers border truce, amnesty


Spanish regional elections fail
to break political deadlock


Protesters march near NFL game after
release of Charlotte shooting video


Motive sought in fatal shooting at
Washington state mall after arrest


Young Prince George shuns high-five,
low-five from Canada's Trudeau


American football player in
Canada killed in shooting


Baseball world mourns boating death
of Miami Marlins star Fernandez


Spain's regional elections strengthen
PP, deal blow to Socialists


Trump tells Netanyahu he would
recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital


U.S., Russia trade blows over
Syria as warplanes pound Aleppo


Supreme Court has reasons to
duck transgender rights fight


Trump, Netanyahu discuss Islamic
State, Iran, Palestinians in meeting


Man purporting to be Boko Haram leader
taunts Nigerian military in video


Libya PM calls for national
reconciliation in splintered country


Warplanes pound Syria's Aleppo,
U.N. Security Council meets


Canada confirms citizen kidnapped
in Libya, seeks more information


Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose
Fernandez killed in boat crash


Morocco's Islamist party plays down royal
tensions as election campaign begins


For some Democrats, it's voting
for Clinton - and keeping it quiet


Raids kill nine in central Yemen -
medical official, residents


Train driver wounded as bomb on rail
line explodes in southeast Turkey


Gennifer Flowers won't attend
U.S. presidential debate: Pence


Grillo says he is back in charge
of Italy's 5-Star Movement


Bosnian Serbs to hold disputed
vote amid ethnic tensions


Swiss spy law seen passing with
voters on security concerns


Quit or risk being killed, brother
warns South Africa's Zuma: report


Leader of Nigeria's Boko Haram
says he is alive in video


Kerry's ceaseless diplomacy
faces sternest test on Syria


British PM May rebuffed calls to play
bigger role in EU referendum campaign


China air force holds drills in Western
Pacific for second time this month


Islamic State claims Baghdad
suicide bombing that kills seven


Russian and Syrian jets bomb
Aleppo camp retaken by rebels


Turkey wants to join U.S.-led operation
against Islamic State in Raqqa: Erdogan


UK parliament must be fully informed
on Brexit strategy: opposition leader


Suicide bomber kills seven,
wounds 28 in Baghdad, police say


Britain has lot to do before triggering
EU divorce: foreign minister


Jordanian writer shot dead outside
court before trial over cartoon


Blast rocks Hungary's
capital, two injured


Police search for motive in deadly
Washington state mall shooting


Suspect in fatal shooting of five at
Washington state mall captured, identified


Charlotte protesters keep marching
after police release shooting video


Charlotte police videos released but
question of gun still unanswered


Eight, including toddler,
hurt in Baltimore shooting


Black man shot dead by police in Oklahoma
remembered in music-filled service


Yemen plans U.N. complaint over
Iran weapons transfers -minister


China, Cuba agree to deepen ties
during PM Li's Havana visit


Charlotte shooting victim's family
says killing doesn't make sense


Kids in tow, Prince William,
Kate begin visit to Canada


Charlotte police release video
of fatal shooting after protests


Gabon opposition leader rejects
ruling upholding Bongo poll win


Philippines tells world not to
interfere in Duterte drugs war


UK doctors call
off strike action


Michigan State football players
emulate raised-fist protest in NFL


Canada, China sign law enforcement
agreements during Li visit


Demonstrators rally in Oklahoma before
funeral of black man shot by police


Netanyahu to meet Clinton and
Trump during U.S. visit: sources


Clinton server tech told FBI of
colleagues' worries about system


Eighteen killed in Islamic State
attack north of Iraq's Tikrit


UAE says Iran wasted no time in
undermining regional security


Obama says new black history
museum tells story of America


Protesters rally again to demand
Charlotte police release shooting video


Finns protest against racism after
man assaulted at neo-Nazi rally dies


Battle rages near Aleppo,
air onslaught continues


Ecuador hopes hearing marks 'beginning
of the end' of Assange saga


N.Y. Times endorses Clinton
in White House race


U.N., AU, EU press Congolese
leaders to stop political violence


Balkan route nations say to focus on
achievable ways to prevent new migrant influx


Thousands march in Dublin,
abroad for Irish abortion rights


India's Modi hits out at
Pakistan after attack in Kashmir


Hungary PM says Europe should
process refugees in Libya


Swaziland's rhino horn sale bid seen
doomed at U.N. meeting on wildlife trade


Corbyn calls for unity after winning
Britain's Labour leadership vote


Mourners weep at funeral for
black teen shot by Ohio police


Syrian government makes Aleppo
advance in major attack


Pope offers comfort to friends and
relatives of Nice attack victims


Gabon increases security after
court upholds Bongo poll win


Re-elected head of Britain's Labour
Party, Corbyn calls for unity


Leftist Corbyn re-elected as
leader of Britain's Labour Party


Clash kills soldier, Kurdish
militant in southeast Turkey


Syrian government seizes area in
Aleppo attack, death toll climbs


Black teen fatally shot by Columbus,
Ohio, police to be mourned Saturday


Warplanes press attack on
rebel-held eastern Aleppo


Anti-Brexit group challenges UK
government over Article 50 disclosure


Takata failed to report 2003 air
bag rupture to U.S. road authority


Indonesia arrests key people
smuggler who targeted Australia


Four al Qaeda members killed in
suspected U.S. drone strike: officials


Warplanes mount new strikes
on rebel-held Aleppo


Charlotte march peaceful, pressure
rises to release shooting tapes


Three dead in shooting at mall
in Washington state: media


Ohio system of purging inactive
voters not legal: court


Thai police raid on suspected foreign
forgery gang uncovers body in freezer


Australia welcomes arrest of alleged
key Indonesian people smuggler


Charlotte marchers demand
police release shooting tapes


School bus overturns near
Houston, injuring 14


Ecuador tells U.N. 'political
battle' needed to combat tax havens


Hillary Clinton postpones trip
to Charlotte -campaign statement


Brazil Supreme Court OKs probe
into allegations citing Temer


Target shakes up online
leadership with eye on rivals


Protesters in Charlotte demand
police release tapes of shooting


Costa Rica gets 100 illegal immigrants a
day hoping to get to U.S.


Gabon court rejects opposition
challenge to presidential poll result


Troops take to Charlotte
streets, dramatic video released


Appeals court overturns Indiana
death row inmate's conviction


As Syria cease-fire fails, Obama may
leave successor 'problem from hell'


U.S. says THAAD not negotiable, but
confident on North Korea sanctions


Twitter initiates talks with
tech companies over sale: source


Obama vetoes Sept. 11 Saudi bill,
sets up showdown with Congress


Loaded gun found in North Carolina
had fingerprints matching victim: CNN


'Bridgegate' trial star witness
describes favors for endorsements


Warplanes bomb Aleppo after
Syrian army launches offensive


Year's busiest week for U.S. IPOs
offers little comfort to banks


Yellowstone River reopens after deadly
parasite killed thousands of fish


Defying U.N., North Korea vows
to strengthen nuclear capability


Long a rival, Ted Cruz endorses
Trump in U.S. presidential race


Some Yahoo users close accounts amid
fears breach could have ripple effects



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