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Obama's Pragmatism
I think I’m beginning to understand Barack Obama’s concept of pragmatism better. Pragmatism is the name of a school of philosophy. The major point to understand is that, in the pragmatic view, we have to continue working hard at “business as usual,” regardless of what we believe is ethically right or wrong. As I understand it, Obama’s current philosophically-inspired position is that economic success is the major gauge of his leadership, simply because that is the way everything works in our civilization. Many aspects of our system are repugnant, probably as much to Obama as to some of those reading this, but according to his pragmatism we can’t get away from things as they are.

Obama’s is a deeply thought out attitude and not the same as a policy of continuous expediency. He demands that we throw ourselves into the world as we find it. I think he would say that any other attitude amounts to shirking our (his) responsibility to run the country for the good of everyone, including the good of people we detest.

This attitude can be compared with the one advanced by Victor Frankl in his book Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankl survived life in Auschwitz while following similar principles. I recommend Frankl’s moving and disturbing book without reservation to anyone who would try to see human beings as we are, inextricably connected to the world around us. In some ways the philosophy of Frankl is the antithesis of the agonized lament, heard in Jean-Paul Sartre’s play No Exit, that “Hell is other people.”

I’m not sure I can entirely accept either Obama’s pragmatism or Frankl’s grim determination to follow the road on which we find ourselves. Nevertheless I believe these are ideas that we need to take seriously, particularly in light of the current president’s apparently deep commitment to principles such as I am awkwardly trying to characterize here.

If Obama succeeds in getting himself voted in for another term, it will be interesting to find out what he does with his second four years. He may not change his policies, but I’m hoping he will start to explain, in much greater depth, the decisions he is making and the logic he follows in making them.

—Ralph    |  

Wiki-Leaking Bank Information
For anyone interested in learning more about Wikileaks, how it operates, its ethics and an example of the character of one leaker, I recommend watching this video. Probably because of server overload, the video may take up to about 15 minutes to begin playing. It’s worth the wait.
—Ralph    |  

USA Has a Right-Sided Bias
This week’s diplomatic spat between the US and Venezuela illustrates the built-in U.S. bias against leftist governments.
(Reuters) - Venezuela condemned on Thursday the United States’ revocation of its ambassador’s visa. […]

In the latest flare-up between the ideological foes, Washington withdrew the visa of ambassador Bernardo Alvarez on Wednesday in retaliation for the rejection by socialist President Hugo Chavez of Obama’s nominated U.S. envoy to Caracas.

Chavez had blocked [U.S. envoy] Larry Palmer’s arrival, after the diplomat accused Venezuela’s government of close ties to leftist Colombian rebels. [Palmer] also alleged declining morale and growing Cuban influence in Venezuela’s armed forces.

It’s easy to see why U.S. foreign policy is always so strongly biased against leftist governments: there are still substantial remnants of U.S. anti-communism, the pillar upon which most of Washington’s foreign policy rested from the beginning of the Cold War, around 1947, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Throughout 44 years of Cold War polarization, a strong tradition of U.S. anti-leftism became deeply rooted. And even though 20 years has now passed since the collapse of Russian communism, there is still a fixed expectation, both at home and in the rest of the world, that the U.S. will always oppose leftist governments such as Venezuela’s, while glossing over the faults of rightist states like El Salvador, to which

the United States has sent more than $1 billion in military aid […] in the last decade, and $2 billion more in economic assistance.
Anti-communist habits of thought also help explain why, two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, U.S. press and media still retain a strong right-sided bias. A reflexive “anti-communist” miasma of condemnation subtly permeates the atmosphere when any domestic policy appears to lean leftward.

As long as reactive hatred of communism and reactive fear of terrorism combine to lock U.S. political dialog into a tiny pen, there’s little hope we’ll hear sensible policy discussion any time soon.

—Ralph    |  

Ease of Use
Republicans no longer care how obvious they are about passing legislation exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy. They have no further need to hide this or anything else, because the likes of Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, Limbaugh and hundreds of other right-wing radio and tv presenters all over the country are able to spin whatever their favored politicians may happen to say into electoral gold.

This wonderful ease of use of the populace is just one of the many miracles made possible by having so large a proportion of uneducated and under-educated citizens. Remember that the American economy is driven by consumption. You only have to know how to eat.

—Ralph    |  

What is a Conservative?
What exactly is an American conservative, anyway? I can’t think of a description that fits the present range of candidates. Is a conservative…
  • A religious fundamentalist who is fanatically opposed to abortion for any reason?
  • A wealthy individual trying to get his taxes reduced by giving money to a politician who promises to cut all taxes?
  • A person opposed to government spending (except for military, CIA, Homeland Security and “Black Ops” spending)?
  • An advocate of “white power,” also opposed to social services and immigration?
  • Someone who believes in “personal responsibility” (except when his or own family needs some kind of help)?
  • A politician who tries to block any legislative proposal advanced by Democrats, including legislation he or she has previously sponsored?
  • Someone who believes “Barack Hussein Obama” is secretly a Kenyan Muslim?
This is, of course, an ironic post, but it also contains a serious question: is there any common set of beliefs shared by self-described American conservatives?
—Ralph    |  

Reality vs Human Nature
We often hear that “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Public opinion, on the other hand, has a well-known bias in favor of ignorance and jingoism. The truth is usually evident, but will not be accepted until much later. This is especially true when the truth turns out to be unpleasant or (even worse) expensive.
—Ralph    |  

Angry with Barack Obama?
I get pretty disappointed, even angry with Obama because he has neither ended the wars nor closed Guantanamo, but then I have to remember how much I hated Lyndon Johnson for his horrible war in Vietnam. Because of the massive public reaction against that war, in 1968 Johnson did not run for a second full term in office.

But now we remember Lyndon Johnson as the president who moved the Civil Rights Act of 1965 through Congress, and signed it.

It’s true that Barack Obama isn’t the most popular president, and that he’s not helping other Democrats. Those are the unfortunate facts. But we can still hope that the legislation Obama and this Congress have passed will help the country over the long term.

—Ralph    |  

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com

Cached Aug 28, 2016, 4:42 am (all times Eastern US)
Cost of the War in Iraq
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Reuters News
Second boycotter says will rejoin
Libya's U.N.-backed government

Half of Germans against Merkel
serving fourth term: poll

Spain starts countdown to possible
third national election in year

Election result adds to Northern
Territory gas uncertainty

Turkish warplanes, artillery hit
targets in north Syria: sources

South Africa's finance minister to
be charged for graft: City Press

New tans, same old 'polycrisis'
as Europe's summer ends

Suspected 'terror' attack at Indonesian
church; no serious casualties

Suspected Kurdish militants fire rockets
at Turkey's Diyarbakir airport: media

As Obama heads to Laos, signs
of a tilt away from China

Nephew of Sinaloa cartel
leader killed in Mexico

Democrat Clinton receives
first security briefing

Bolivia accuses mining leader and
two others of minister's murder

Trump vows crackdown on immigrants
who overstay visas if elected

Up to 300,000 refugees to come to
Germany this year: migration office head

Trump tweets about killing of NBA
star's cousin, drawing criticism

Trump says would track immigrants
to ensure no visa overstays

Merkel's deputy says she underestimated
migrant integration challenge

Colombia's FARC rebels to hold final
conference, peace vote September 13-19

Cowboys quarterback Romo
has broken bone in back

Bongo aims to extend 50-year
family rule in Gabon election

Sarkozy says Britain should manage
asylum seekers on its own territory

Yemen's exiled government welcomes
U.S. plan for restart of peace talks

Scandal-hit Gupta family says plans
to sell South African holdings

Relative of Charlie Hebdo attacker
investigated for Islamist ties

German military wants security
checks on recruits, newspaper says

Kansas City area hit by floods
after three days of downpour

NFL's 49ers support quarterback
after he refused to stand for anthem

Turkey ratchets up Syria offensive,
says warplanes hit Kurdish militia

Venezuela ex-mayor Ceballos sent
to prison from house arrest

France's Ayrault urges Russia to
back U.N. resolution on Syria

Italy grieves as state funeral
is held for quake victims

Juppe pitches 'united France'
in presidential bid launch

Boko Haram landmine kills
four Chadian soldiers

U.N. Syria envoy presses for
speedy Aleppo aid delivery

Vatican says it has high hopes
of better ties with China

German rightists scale Brandenburg
Gate to protest immigration

Japan pledges $30 billion for
Africa over next three years

Sources deny report Merkel delaying
announcement on possible fourth term

Kurdish-aligned group in north Syria
says targeted by Turkish warplanes

Exclusive: Iraq plans to sell oil
through Iran if talks with Kurds fail

Syrian group says Turkey
targets village in air strikes

Fire kills 17 Kyrgyz nationals
in Moscow printing plant

France expels two Moroccans
considered serious security threat

Iranian refugee detained in Papua
New Guinea wins cartooning award

British PM to trigger Brexit without
vote by lawmakers: Telegraph

Jobs data to be a big deal
for record-high stocks

Italy holds state funeral for
35 of earthquake's victims

Cousin of NBA star Wade killed
in Chicago shooting: media

Malaysian student protesters
demand 1MDB arrest

Bangladesh police kill
'mastermind' of Dhaka cafe attack

Thailand frees prominent
activist over royal insult

Fire kills at least 16
in Moscow printing works

Tropical Storm Madeline forms
east of Hawaiian Islands: NHC

Italy quake death toll hits
284 on day of mass funeral

Taliban fighters overrun
district in eastern Afghanistan

Mississippi man arrested in
stabbing death of two nuns: police

El Salvador frees three ex-military
officials linked to 1989 murders

U.N. Security Council condemns
North Korea missile launches

Video emerges showing U.S.
police pursuing deaf driver

Pacific Tropical Storm
Lester now a hurricane: NHC

Hong Kong's first Zika
case tests negative

Justice Department to decide charges against
Arizona lawman in racial profiling case

Panic on NY subway train as crickets,
worms let loose in apparent prank

Tunisia's new government wins
parliamentary approval, eyes austerity

Partial win in fight over North
Carolina transgender bathroom law

Exclusive: FBI raids home of ex-College
Board official in probe of SAT leak

Yellowstone employee falls
to death in park canyon

Illinois governor urges 2018 vote
on 'rigged' political mapmaking

Caesars must face $11 billion
in lawsuits: U.S. judge

Icahn denies attempt to sell
Herbalife stock, buys more shares

Relief granted to transgender students
fighting North Carolina's bathroom law

Guard at New York City's Rikers
jail complex charged with rape

Woman kidnapped, held for 18 years cannot
sue U.S. over parole failures: court

Man convicted in Connecticut home
invasion murders tried suicide

Fed's Yellen sees stronger
case for interest rate hike

Bolivian miners lift roadblock after
deputy minister beaten to death

Convicted bank robber charged
in Toronto crossbow deaths

Maine governor apologizes for
obscenity-laced voicemail

No 'Arab Spring' in Zimbabwe,
Mugabe warns protesters

Redstone granddaughter agrees to
case dismissal, helps broader deal

Miami hotel bookings slow,
airfares fall since Zika outbreak

U.S. seeks to soothe Turkey ties,
press fight against Islamic State

Illinois pension fund lowers
investment rate, hikes state payment

U.S. considering speed-limit
device rule for trucks, buses

Clinton leads Trump by 5
points in Reuters/Ipsos poll

Brazil police seek graft charges
against ex-President Lula

Judge keeps in place California law
allowing physician-assisted suicide

Devastating bird flu strain
found in U.S. wild duck - USDA

U.S. public universities turning to
private sector to meet campus needs

USDA finds deadly bird flu
strain in wild duck in Alaska

Uber wins halt to N.Y.
price-fixing lawsuit during appeal

Judge in Redstone hearing urges
attorneys to reach agreements

Bomb disposal squad deployed in
central England after arrests

Ackman approached to buy
Herbalife shares owned by Icahn

Two plead guilty in 2014 armed
standoff at Bundy ranch in Nevada

FDA recommends Zika testing
for all blood donated in U.S.

White House proposes rule to
welcome immigrant entrepreneurs

Brazil impeachment trial
suspended amid senators' row

Judge says has 'concerns' on
information given to Sumner Redstone

Clinton attacks Trump's outreach
to black voters in new ad

French court suspends burkini
ban, controversy goes on

Oops! Britney Spears does it again
in latest pop culture comeback

Venezuela's steep prices, scarcities
open the way for cardboard coffins

Former Bush adviser Wolfowitz
to vote for Clinton: Spiegel

Landmark Phelan building sold in
San Francisco for $375 million

South African police deny targeting
finance minister Gordhan: report

Brazil chief justice suspends
Rousseff trial amid senators' row

Cuba says U.S. commercial
flights welcome

Turkey signals no quick end to Syria
incursion as truck bomb kills police

Turkey opens bridge between
continents in megaproject drive

Hillary Clinton says her family's
foundation is looking for partners

Popping balloons trigger stampede
at Florida mall; nine hurt

Kerry, Lavrov push to finalize Syria
deal, evacuees leave besieged Daraya

Long-time Arizona sheriff Joe
Arpaio faces tough re-election bid

Mazda recalling 190,000
CX-7 vehicles in U.S.

Norway reschedules appeal against
mass murderer Breivik to January

U.S. second-quarter growth trimmed to
1.1 percent; consumer spending raised

Judge rejects prosecutor request
to appeal Pistorius sentence

Israeli troops kill Palestinian
who ran toward them, army says

Schooled in the short run, central
banks struggle with a long-term role

Hungarian PM Orban calls
for joint European army

Nigerian traditional rulers want
prisoners freed before Delta talks

Zimbabwe protesters, police
clash at anti-Mugabe rally

China to prosecute former statistics
bureau chief for corruption

Tunisia PM warns of economic
austerity, job cuts

As racial politics loom over election,
Obama's legacy is seen as mixed

India's Modi goaded Pakistan
in deliberate yet risky move

Philippine government, communist
rebels sign ceasefire deal

Suicide truck bomb blamed on
PKK kills 11 police in Turkey

Lotte vice chairman found dead
amid probe; suicide suspected

Anti-nuclear governor in Japan asks
Kyushu Electric to suspend nuke plant

California judge considers new
physician-assisted suicide law

Car bomb kills at least 11 at
police headquarters in Turkey

Senior Chinese general arrested
for corruption: HK newspaper

Death toll from blast in southeast
Turkey rise to 11: Turkish TV

Migrant influx pushes German population
growth to highest since 1992

Number of dead in Italy quake
climbs, first funerals to be held

Hungary to build second fence on
Serbian border to keep out migrants

Death toll in Somalia beach
restaurant attack rises to 10

Gunmen kill seven in ambush
in Pakistan's southwest

Man in boxer shorts jumps fence,
crashes pickup into plane: Omaha police

Nine dead, dozens wounded in blast at
police headquarters in southeast Turkey

Australia warns shipbuilder DCNS
after massive security leak

Blast at police checkpoint in
southeast Turkey; casualties feared

Obama's judges leave
liberal imprint on U.S. law

U.S. aid to Pakistan shrinks amid
mounting frustration over militants

Rescued after a month, Czech hiker
recounts friend's death in New Zealand

Judge in Stanford rape case will
stop hearing criminal cases

Indonesia's most-wanted awakens
new generation of jihadis

Obama expands Hawaii marine
reserve in final push on climate

Bolivia says deputy interior minister
killed after kidnap by miners

Colorado police use DNA to 'draw'
killer in unsolved triple murder

New Syrian rebel advance against
IS may take months, commander says

Blast at Belgian sports center
kills one, gas accident suspected

American university attack hits at
heart of Afghan liberal learning

Judge orders search of new Clinton
emails for release by September 13

Three die in crossbow attack in
Toronto, man in custody: police

Two nuns stabbed to death in
their home in Mississippi

Clinton, Trump clash over who
is best for U.S. minorities

U.S. Navy ship fires warning
shots at Iranian vessel

Male suspect in 1983 murders may be
living in L.A. as a woman: police

White House meets with Clinton,
Trump teams to discuss transition

As central bankers gather, some at
Fed make interest rate rise case

Power outage briefly halted flights
to Miami, nearby airports: FAA

Obama's TPP deal won't get
Senate vote this year: McConnell

Turkey fires on U.S.-backed
Kurdish militia in Syria offensive

Judge lets ex-NY assembly speaker
Silver stay free during appeal

Hispanic coalition asks
Trump to stop 'attacks'

Clinton ramps up Asian outreach
in three closely fought states

Colombia sends peace deal to
Congress as negotiators defend it

Exclusive: Chinese-Mexican man at center of $205 million
seizure could be extradited to Mexico in days - lawyer

Poverty will hobble Colombia's
anti-drugs push after peace deal

California Assembly passes bill
for private worker retirement plan

Volkswagen to spend at least $1.2 billion
to compensate U.S. dealers: sources

Zuma says backs finance minister
but can't stop investigation

Illinois man charged with bomb
attempt ruled mentally unfit

Al Shabaab militants bomb Somali
beach restaurant, gunfight ongoing

Italy quake toll hits 250 as
rescuers search flattened towns

Competency hearing sought for
ex-Los Angeles County sheriff

Lawsuit opens new front in
Obama immigration legal fight

Kerry calls for unity
government in Yemen to end war

Russia backs 48-hour Aleppo truce,
U.N. wants other sides to commit

Volkswagen reaches deal to compensate
U.S. dealers for polluting diesels

Peace much cheaper than war,
Colombia tells critics of FARC deal

French PM defends burkini
ban but some in cabinet wary

Illinois attorney general sues
Insys over fentanyl drug marketing

Mylan offers discounts on
EpiPen amid wave of criticism

Brazil's Senate begins
Rousseff's impeachment trial

Obama administration expects to
close Guantanamo prison: White House

Hungary offers Serbia help in
guarding borders against migrants

Czech PM backs European army
in talks with Germany's Merkel

Democrat Clinton vows to support
Colombia-FARC peace deal

Upbeat U.S. factory data suggests
business spending stabilizing

Orlando hospitals won't charge
nightclub shooting victims for care

Gun, bomb attack on American
University in Kabul kills 13

Georgia man gets 40-year sentence
for boiling water attack on gays

France, the burkini and
a 'battle of cultures'

U.S. core capital goods orders
surge; jobless claims fall

Amazon launches Amazon
Vehicles to help car buyers

In crime-ridden Israeli Arab
city, police seek new approach

Turkey sends more tanks to Syria,
demands Kurdish fighters retreat

Impeachment trial of Dilma Rousseff
begins in Brazilian Senate

U.S. jobless claims fall
for third straight week

Turkish opposition leader targetted
by Kurdish militants: minister

Kurdish militants behind attack
on Turkish opposition: minister

Biden says expects Guantanamo prison
to close before Obama leaves office

GM mustard clears hurdle
in India but more remain

Facebook to start using WhatsApp
data for targeted advertising

Iraq army captures Qayyara oil
region from IS, Abadi says

Biden: Nord Stream 2 pipeline
is a 'bad deal' for Europe

German military mulls options if
planes withdrawn from Turkish base

Mylan cuts patient
cost of EpiPen

Uber to let Londoners book
journeys weeks in advance

India says newspaper leak of submarine
papers doesn't compromise security

China expresses concern about
Indian missiles on border

Tech firms' encryption foe struggles
for U.S. Senate re-election

Clinton to accuse Trump of embracing
nativist political movement

India government panel clears GM
mustard but hurdles remain: sources

Central bankers eye public spending
to plug $1 trillion investment gap

South Africa's Zuma says has confidence in
finance minister, can't intervene in probe

New Zealand police rescue Czech woman
a month after deadly trekking accident

Duterte accuses Philippine senator
probing killings of taking drug money

Saudi coalition air strikes kill most civilians
in Yemen, Houthis also violate law: U.N.

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