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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 Oct 23, 2016, 1:42 pm (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Suicide car bomb rocks
Somali capital: police

Fate of child migrants uncertain
before France demolishes Jungle camp

Two Pakistan coast guard killed in
Pakistan's key CPEC port district

Venezuela congress presses for
Maduro trial, escalating standoff

Asian sailors freed by Somali pirates
arrive in Kenya for flights home

Rockwell Collins buys B/E
Aerospace for $62 per share

Battle for Mosul can shape
or break Iraq further

In escalation of crisis, Venezuela
congress to put Maduro on trial

Hungary's Orban rejects 'Sovietization'
by Brussels, defends nation state

Fighting in Somalia kills at
least seven soldiers: officials

Burundi police question U.S.
journalist, keep her fixer in custody

Burkina police kill jihadist
in firefight in capital

Kaine, Trump, U.S. lawmakers raise
concerns over AT&T-Time Warner deal

Trump would '100 percent' accept
election result if it's fair: son

Door to Lebanese presidency 'wide
open', will vote for Aoun: Hezbollah

Spain's Socialists clear way for
minority conservative government

Hezbollah MPs will vote for Aoun
to be Lebanon president: Nasrallah

Senate committee on antitrust to
'carefully examine' AT&T-Time Warner deal

Iraqi Kurds claim capture
of town in advance on Mosul

Aid agencies struggle to assist
wave of returning Afghan refugees

Turkey's ruling party has completed
proposal on presidency, PM says

Spain's Socialists agree to abstain
in prime minister confidence vote

Somalia's Shabaab seize third town
this month after peacekeepers withdraw

Two senior members of Britain's troubled
UKIP party enter leadership race

Still here? EU reality dims
British demand on full membership

AT&T-Time Warner may signal start
of new media industry consolidation

Iran's president says U.S. election
offers only bad or worse choice

Senior politician in South Africa's
ANC urges party leaders to quit

China police detain person for
spreading rumors of labor unrest

Algeria's ruling FLN
party chief steps down

Egyptians losing patience with
Sisi as economy deteriorates

Lithuania goes to polls with
center-right opposition set to win power

Saudi Arabia looks to Russia
to boost non-OPEC cooperation

Sanaa air raids resume as Yemen
truce expires, say residents

Two police killed, 19 people wounded
in bomb in east Turkey: sources

AT&T to pay $85 billion for Time
Warner, create telecom-media giant

A waste of money? Trump's border wall
falling flat in Arizona: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Japanese suicide pensioner blows himself
up in park, injures three others: NHK

Spain's Socialists seen clearing the
way for end to political deadlock

Duterte hopes Philippine fishermen
can return to China-controlled shoal

French police chief promises change
after sixth night of protests: TV

Battle for Aleppo intensifies
after ceasefire ends

Explosions in Japanese park
kill one, cause not known: NHK

Opium crops spread in Afghanistan
as Taliban gains ground, U.N. says

Cubs to meet Indians
in World Series

Australian minister says rights
commissioner politicizing role

AT&T agrees to buy Time
Warner for $85 billion

Mass prison break in Haiti, 174
inmates flee after killing guard

Colombia airline restarts Venezuela
flights after warplane incident

Trump uses policy speech to attack
media, promises to sue accusers

Swedish Academy says up to Dylan if he
wants to come to receive Nobel Prize

Dozens of demonstrators arrested
at North Dakota pipeline

Exclusive: Goldman Sachs' Latam
investment bank chief to leave - source

Air strikes, fighting break Russian-declared
ceasefire in Syria's Aleppo

Rescuers save 2,400 migrants in
Mediterranean, recover 14 bodies

Maduro opponents march after
Venezuela referendum sunk

AT&T set to announce $85
billion Time Warner purchase

Trump vows to weaken U.S. media
'power structure' if elected

Two children killed in
Georgia home invasion: police

British anti-terrorist police find second
'suspicious item' after London arrest

Trump says will not approve AT&T-Time
Warner deal if elected U.S. president

Czech president denies scrapping
Holocaust survivor medal

Argentina looks to battle corporate
and public corruption with new laws

Taliban release drone
footage of suicide attack

Somali pirates free 26 Asian
sailors held since 2012

Venezuela's Maduro says oil
producers close to output cap deal

Aleppo city quiet on third
day of ceasefire, no aid yet

Egyptian court confirms 20-year
prison sentence on Mursi

Cameroon train crash
death toll tops 70

Singer kneels while performing
anthem at Miami NBA game

Zimbabwe's Mugabe skirts retirement
talk at burial of friend

Clinton far ahead in Electoral
College race: Reuters/ipsos poll

Fighting rages in Yemen as U.N.
seeks to extend 72-hour ceasefire

Russian helicopter crash
kills 19 in northwest Siberia

Death toll from Cameroon
rail crash climbs to 63

Philippines says to keep U.S.
ties but will not be subservient

Libya forces free 13 foreign captives
from militants in Sirte battle

Japanese and British fighter planes
meet for first time since World War Two

Afghan Taliban envoys in Pakistan to
discuss possible peace talks: official

French Socialist party leader says no French socialist
likely to win presidential election at moment

White substance found at Clinton
office not hazardous: police

Rescuers work to assist victims
of deadly Cameroon rail accident

Multiple injuries as double-decker
bus hits bridge in London

Iraqi army drives Islamic State
from Christian region near Mosul

Belgian shopping mall evacuated
as three gunmen rob jewelry store

Trump to lay out what he would do in
first 100 days if elected president

Sinai general
killed near Cairo

Merkel's Bavarian allies
back her for fourth term

EU should not forget Turkey
has alternatives, PM says

Belgian supermarket evacuated
over presence of armed man: Belga

Thai junta says Google removing
content with royal insults

Libya naval forces deny charges
of attack on migrant boat

Iraq storms main Christian town near
Mosul as Carter arrives in Baghdad

Australians rally for refugees in
stand against far-right sentiment

Huge crowd of mourning Thais sings
royal anthem in honor of late king

Hillary Clinton's campaign HQ
evacuated over white substance

Hooded gunmen threatened Venezuela
congress commission: opposition

Inquiry finds Syrian government forces
responsible for third gas attack

French police stage fifth night of
protest, Hollande pledges meeting

Ecuador judge orders jail for
ex-minister in Petroecuador bribery case

New Jersey governor knew of 'Bridgegate'
plan a month in advance: defendant

Trump gains on Clinton, poll
shows 'rigged' message resonates

U.S. to seek ex-HSBC executive's
extradition from Britain

Oklahoma rejects Russian request
to monitor election in state

More than 100 treated after chemical
accident in northeastern Kansas

Police cleared in shooting
death of Minneapolis black man

Peru protests risk halting one of
world's biggest copper mines: MMG

New NYC law, San Francisco lawsuit
highlight global risks for Airbnb

Pennsylvania college faculty
ends strike after tentative deal

Russian indicted in U.S. on
charges of hacking LinkedIn

Puerto Rico oversight board
wants lawsuits to remain frozen

Trump's 'rigged' election message
resonating, new poll shows

California lawmaker sentenced to over 3
years in corruption case -local media

Cameroon train derails; at
least 55 dead, hundreds injured

Parties to Yemen war exchange
accusations of breaching ceasefire

Mexico arrests ex-police chief
linked to student disappearances

FBI investigating cause of cyber
attacks: law enforcement official

U.S. citizens urged to defer travel
to Ethiopia: State Department

Montana judge targeted for impeachment
for 60-day incest rape sentence

Half of Republicans would reject election
result if Clinton wins: Reuters/Ipsos

At least 53 people killed, nearly
300 injured in Cameroon train wreck

Wall Street ends little
changed; Microsoft hits record

Cyber attacks disrupt
PayPal, Twitter, other sites

U.S. says it killed 8 al
Qaeda-affiliated militants in Yemen

U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Ginsburg to make opera debut

Church bells peal in town retaken
by Iraqi troops from Islamic State

Brazil government worried arrest
could hamper spending cap vote

New York governor approves
new regulations on Airbnb

Trump says he will be happy with his
White House bid - whatever the outcome

Philippines' Duterte says didn't
really mean 'separation' from U.S.

London City airport declared
safe after 'chemical incident'

AT&T bids for Time Warner, 21st
Century Fox not interested: sources

Exclusive: U.N. chief mulls future in South
Korea where he tops presidential polls

Europe's Mars probe destroyed
after plunging to surface

London City Airport has been
declared safe - fire service

Health, energy stocks hit Wall
Street, Microsoft lifts Nasdaq

Ambulance service treats 26 people
after London City Airport evacuated

Student in debunked Rolling Stone
rape story got tattoo to mark attack

AT&T in advanced talks to
buy Time Warner: sources

Images indicate European
Mars lander destroyed: ESA

Muslims pray at Colosseum, protesting
against Rome mosque closures

Wall Street Journal offers all news
employees option to take buyouts: memo

Cloud from chemical accident in
Kansas dissipated: city officials

Philippines Duterte says he is not
severing ties with the United States

U.S. warship challenges China's
claims in South China Sea

Trump seeks to bar personal conduct
claims from Trump University trial

Student's leg amputated after
teacher slammed him to floor: lawyer

U.S. sees 'too many' troubling
statements from Philippines' Duterte

Burkina Faso forces foiled coup attempt
in early October, minister says

Residents say civilians among
dead in Myanmar army lockdown

U.S. man to plead guilty in
billion-dollar pyramid scheme: prosecutor

Chemical spill in Kansas town spurs
call for residents to stay indoors

S&P, Dow fall with health
stocks; Microsoft lifts Nasdaq

Syrian refugee in Germany tried to
make a bomb before suicide: report

Brazil Senate police chief arrested
for thwarting corruption probe

Atchison, Kansas residents told to
shelter in place after chemical spill

McDonald's U.S. sales revive
amid stiff competition

Packed passenger train derails
in Cameroon, wagons overturned

Attack on web provider disrupts
some sites on U.S. East Coast

Ex-SAP executive, two others
indicted in U.S. for insider trading

Trump and Clinton carry campaign
barbs into New York charity dinner

Wall St. drops on bleak GE
outlook; Microsoft blunts losses

UK police arrest teenager on terrorism
offences over item found on London train

Bunkers and booby-traps as Islamic
State makes a stand in Libya

Exclusive: U.S. runs freedom-of-navigation
operation in South China Sea - officials

U.S. web provider says probing
East Coast cyber attack

UK's May ready for tough talks,
but will fight over EU market

Lions' den or nest of doves? May's
first EU encounter was businesslike

British PM May says Brexit
talks with EU will take time

Duterte didn't really mean 'separation'
from U.S., Philippine officials say

Hungary PM sees stalemate
in EU migrant quota dispute

McDonald's sales beat estimates
as turnaround gathers pace

Syrian army and Russian jets halt
Aleppo bombardment for second day

UK's 'fake sheikh' undercover
reporter jailed for 15 months

Aleppo siege and air strikes are
war crimes: U.N. rights boss

Maduro foes say they are
barred from leaving Venezuela

GE beats on profit but cuts revenue
target on oil, gas weakness

German parliament approves
controversial espionage law

Exclusive: Parlez-vous Brexit? EU
negotiator wants Brits to talk French

Islamic State attacks Kirkuk
as Iraqi forces push on Mosul

Singapore says foreigners need
permit for public assemblies

Polling safeguards stepped up after
Trump's 'rigged election' claim

Spaceship carrying three-man crew
docks with ISS, NASA TV reports

France's Juppe says Anglo-French border
should be moved to England: Guardian

Swedish asylum center burns
down in suspected arson attack

Congo security forces killed dozens
in anti-government protest: U.N.

Death toll hits 73 in
Myanmar ferry disaster

Reshuffle looms as Greek PM,
sagging in polls, seeks debt relief

U.S. mall investors set to lose
billions as retail gloom deepens

U.N. rights boss denounces air
strikes on Aleppo as war crimes

South Africa to quit war
crimes court: justice minister

Once asylum beneficiaries in 1956,
Hungarians now reject migrants

Dollar hits seven-month high,
stocks set for weekly rise

Philippine minister 'clarifies' Duterte
comments, says trade with U.S. safe

Thailand at a crossroads
following king's death, PM says

Church bells around the world toll
for civilian casualties in Aleppo

Russia summons Belgian ambassador
over row about Syria air strike: Ifax

ZTO spurns huge China valuations
for benefits of U.S. listing

Australia, with tight gun curbs,
announces new firearms amnesty

BAT offers to buy U.S. tobacco
firm Reynolds in $47 billion deal

Iraq declares curfew in oil
city under Islamic State attack

Turkish military says it killed 18
Kurdish militants in Iraq and southeast

No partner in sight, Twitter
faces tough solo choices

Milwaukee officer who killed black
man charged with sex assault

Australian shotgun row threatens
to ignite political turbulence

As Duterte embraces China, Japan's
Abe set to roll out warm welcome

Indonesian militant inspired by
Islamic State had weapons, ammunition

Pentagon chief to stress Iraq
sovereignty in Turkey talks

Asia stocks ease as stronger
dollar weighs on crude oil

Trump supporters tricked into buying
beers at Mexico City booze-up

Judge sides with Planned Parenthood
over Mississippi abortion law

Thai junta fines former PM Yingluck, orders
assets seized over failed rice scheme

NZ casino operator says Crown
arrests in China to impact business

Trump, Clinton tension seeps into
jokes at annual charity dinner

New Zealand cancels meeting with Hong Kong
democracy advocates on 'diplomatic' concerns

Trump's war chest one of smallest
in recent presidential campaigns

Activists in Thai opposition heartland
say no politics during mourning

Venezuela electoral body suspends
referendum drive, opposition fumes

Honduras passes law to stop drug
cash entering political campaigns

Activists rally on anniversary
of Chicago teen's killing

NATO trains Afghan troops to
make air strikes more accurate

Journalism group wants charges dropped
against pipeline protest filmmakers

Some opposition changes to Colombia
peace deal 'inviable': president

Dollar near seven-month high as euro
slides, Asia slips on weaker oil

Exclusive: Vatican and China in final
push for elusive deal on bishops

At her first summit, UK's May
tries to reassure EU on Brexit

Italy resists EU push for Russia
sanctions over Aleppo bombings

Survey companies hit the streets
to fill India's data gaps

Rats! New Yorker charged
with vermin control scam

Arizona inmate, wife indicted
in plot to bomb state prison

Russia wants to weaken
the EU, EU leaders say

U.S. vote authorities warned to be alert
to Russian hacks faking fraud: officials

Venezuela electoral council suspends
recall drive against Maduro

For Trump, challenging an
election loss would be tough

Nations agree on global road map
to steer breakneck urbanization

U.S. has few good options for
response to Philippines' Duterte

EU agrees to boost efforts to tackle
illegal migration from Africa

U.S. confirms 11th death linked
to faulty Takata air bag inflator

Mexico stops truck with 121 Central
American migrants bound for U.S.

In U.S. battle of election
T-shirts, 'Nasty Woman' rules

As May debuts in Brussels, EU
readies negotiating engine room

Microsoft shares hit high as cloud
business flies above estimates

Final Trump-Clinton debate draws nearly
72 million viewers, third largest ever

Yemen missile launch, Saudi-led
air strike strain truce

Venezuela political dialogue
difficult but must be pursued: Church

Smart mouth: Chinese fish fossil
sheds light on jaw evolution

Kentucky court strikes down
Louisville's minimum wage hike

U.S. urges Houthis to keep ceasefire,
discusses JASTA with Saudi

Peace, fiscal reform would help
Colombia draw investors: U.S. official

Austrian rightwinger riles former
EU boss Barroso in testy debate

Wall Street dips as
telecoms slump; AmEx surges

Obama says his departure
may fix what ails Obamacare

Wisconsin man pleads guilty
to supporting Islamic State

Long-time Arizona sheriff Arpaio
trails in re-election bid: poll

NSA contractor to face espionage
charges for alleged data theft

Trump's stance on election results
deepens Republican Party rifts

Trump-Clinton Round 3: big but not
better on TV than first debate

Saudi coalition violated law with
Yemen funeral strike: U.N. monitors

Baylor University faces U.S. probe
over response to sex assaults

Another North Korea missile fails
after launch: U.S., South Korea

Venezuelan government slams as racist
U.S. campaign ad linking Trump to Chavez

U.S. service member killed in
northern Iraq: military statement

Congressional race in Virginia
shows Trump drag on Republicans

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